Insufficient precipitation levels in the UK during the dry summer of 2022 has led to low ground moisture and depleted reservoirs. As a result, the country could experience water shortages in 2023. To tackle the issue, water management through satellite imagery allows us to monitor the evolution of water reserves and to assess the accumulated deficit from one year to the next. One example is in the country of the Brontë sisters, below the town of Haworth, where the writers lived and set their famous novels.

The Brontë Country

In the South Pennine region of West Yorkshire, heavy rainfall replenishes reservoirs with fresh water. We can see the deficit of the reservoirs following the 2022 drought thanks to two comparative satellite images. These comparative images provide valuable insight into the water management decisions taken by managers in 2022 and 2023, given the challenging conditions caused by the drought and the potential water shortages in the region. In the Pléiades image taken on 13th August 2022, the water level of the lakes has significantly decreased, revealing exposed, long earthy banks up to 70 meters wide. The Pléiades Neo image acquired on 13th June 2023, before the summer, highlights the cumulative water deficit from one year to the next.

Pléiades August 13, 2022 - 50cm resolution - South Pennine region of West Yorkshire, UK


Pléiades, August 13, 2022
South Pennine region of West Yorkshire

Pléiades Neo June 13, 2023 - 30cm resolution - South Pennine region of West Yorkshire, UK


Pléiades Neo, June 13, 2023
South Pennine region of West Yorkshire

The two Gorple reservoirs

In the comparative satellite images of the Gorple reservoir, we can see that the two successive reservoirs of Gorple displayed differences in water usage in 2022 and 2023.

In 2022, the water of the lower reservoir has been used more abundantly, resulting in the exposure of its banks by over 50 meters. In 2023, the water management decisions focused on saving water in the superior basin, as evident from the image showing its bank exposed for only about 20 meters. The water management decisions in 2023 clearly focused on saving water in the upper reservoir. However, its visible banks still indicate a deficit. Unfortunately, the deficit of the lower reservoir in 2023 was not adequately compensated.

The three reservoirs of Walshaw Dean

The water conservation of the upper reservoir was consistent in both 2022 and 2023 while the middle reservoir experienced a water deficit. The lower reservoir appeared to be maintained at a regular operating level. The 2023 image of the middle reservoir shows the cumulative water deficit from both 2022 and 2023, indicating a worsening water situation in this region of the UK.

Widdop Reservoir

In 2023, the spring rains filled the Widdop reservoir, which has returned to its usual low water level. This marks an improvement compared to 2022 when reservoir’s banks were exposed in certain areas, with stretches of more than 70 meters uncovered due to water deficit.
Pléiades image satellite - 50 cm resolution - Widdop reservoir England


Pléiades August 13, 2022 - The Widdop reservoir

Pléiades Neo image satellite - 30 cm resolution - Widdop reservoir England


Pléiades Neo June 13, 2023 - The Widdop reservoir


Open Data on Drought

Airbus has taken the initiative to provide monthly SPOT data from May to December 2023 in Opendata on the French department of Pyrénées Orientales. This initiative allows institutions, universities and the private sector to leverage this data to develop artificial intelligence solutions. These solutions can then provide rapid, precise and impartial information to territorial decision-makers, managing this crisis.