Earth Observation News

Reading time: about 8 minutes.


SWIFT E-News n°13

October 2010 issue

In this Issue
1. Highlight: Final adoption of the regulation on the GMES programme and its initial operations (2011-2013)
2. TanDEM-X delivers first positive results
3. Earth Observation satellites help rescue operations after heavy floods
4. Earth Observation satellites used for monitoring recent fires in Europe
5. The European Environment Agency takes a closer look to Europe’s mountains and coasts
6. The European Commission forecasts average crop production in Europe for 2010
7. Outcome of the Bonn conference and next steps in the global climate change talks
8. The EU seeks US partners for join space research projects
9. Publication of the 2009 Environment Policy Review
10. The European Commission adopted criteria for good environmental status of marine waters
11. Launch of the Marine Knowledge 2020 initiative
GMES Project Corner:
12. Recent activities of the MACC project
13. MyOcean Science Days 2010

1. Final adoption of the regulation on the GMES programme and its initial operations (2011-2013)

Following the European Parliament’s first reading approval, the proposal for a regulation on the GMES programme and its initial operations (2011-2013) was finally adopted by EU Ministers during the General Affairs Council meeting of 13 September 2010. This was the final step of the co-decision procedure, after which the regulation has become an EU law aimed at establishing GMES as an operational programme, allocating additional funds for its initial operations and putting into place the necessary structures for its governance. Prior to the adoption of Ministers, the General Secretariat of the Council published on 3 September 2010 a joint declaration of the European Commission and the Council which refers to the adoption of the GMES regulation, and points out, among others, that the Commission will present during 2011 a new legislative proposal on the GMES programme beyond its initial operations.

Read More…

2. TanDEM-X delivers first positive results

On 16 July 2010 the first joint acquisition of the German Earth Observation satellites TanDEM-X and TerraSAR-X have worked well, and a few days later, DLR researchers published the first 3D elevation model which shows a Russian island in the Arctic Ocean with an unprecedented accuracy. In August 2010, TanDEM-X responded to its first call for crisis assistance in the case of the heavy floods in Pakistan. Although the TanDEM-X was not fully calibrated yet at that time, the interferometric data it acquired in formation with its twin satellite has provided a reliable technique to map floods instantaneously and more accurately. By the end of August, over 1000 products have come out of the DLR’s operational processing chain, and some of them are already of very high quality, showing details that were not previously visible from space.

Read More…

3. Earth Observation satellites help rescue operations after heavy floods

During the months of July and August 2010, heavy rains hit numerous regions over the world, the northern Pakistan being the most devastated, followed by some EU countries, namely Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. In the framework of both the International Charter Space and Major Disasters and GMES, data from a range of Earth Observation satellites have been used to generate essential maps of the flooded areas in order to support rescue operations on the ground. Radar imagery was acquired by the Envisat’s ‘ASAR’ instrument, as well as optical imagery by the Envisat’s ‘MERIS’ instrument and the French Spot 5. Furthermore, the German TanDEM-X has provided its first crisis assistance, while the ESA’s SMOS mission acquired data of the water content in the soils of the affected area, both through interferometric techniques.

Read More…

4. Earth Observation satellites used for monitoring recent fires in Europe

Destructive wildfires exploded in Russia during July 2010, impacting lives of thousands of citizens and destroying millions of hectares of crops. The MACC project (developing the pre-operational Atmosphere Service of GMES) has helped the rescue operations by producing daily estimates of the emission of aerosols from fires, thanks to satellite measurements of thermal radiation. Additionally, by using satellite imagery, the Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the Joint Research Centre (JRC-IES) has analysed the occurrence and distribution of forest fires in the European part of Russia, since the beginning of July. JRC-IES has also analysed the impact of the Russian fires on land cover and peat soils. More recently, the SAFER project (providing the pre-operational Emergency Response service for GMES) was activated on 31 August by the French Civil Protection as a response to the forest fires that hit the south of France. In this context, rapid mapping products have been produced from high resolution optical imagery.

Read More…

5. The European Environment Agency takes a closer look to Europe’s mountains and coasts

As part of a series of ’10 messages for 2010’ related to biodiversity in Europe, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published on 28 July 2010 an assessment on mountain ecosystems. As main message, the assessment stresses that Europe’s mountains are rich in biodiversity, but more and more threatened by land abandonment, intensification of agriculture, infrastructure development, unsustainable exploitation and climate change. Later, on 25 August 2010, the EEA published an assessment on Europe’s coasts, warning that these zones are under increasing pressure from erosion, pollution, climate change, urbanisation and tourism.

Read More…

6. The European Commission forecasts average crop production in Europe for 2010

As part of its regular activities, the Monitoring Agricultural ResourceS Unit (MARS) of the European Commission published on 4 August 2010 a forecast for the main crop yields throughout the Union for 2010 and an analysis of the areas most affected by stress conditions. According to the forecast, the total cereal production in 2010 should be close to the average from the last five years, the yield per hectare will be 5% above average, while overall cultivated areas have decreased. In addition to the forecast, the Commission published a Memorandum which provides supplementary information, maps and graphs, as well as crop yields forecast for Russia. The forecast indicated that Russia was threatened by critical weather conditions that will lead to a significant yield reduction, in particular along the Volga River.

Read More…

7. Outcome of the Bonn conference and next steps in the global climate change talks

The latest United Nations-led climate change negotiations took place on 2-6 August 2010 in Bonn, Germany. This meeting was the third of a series of four international negotiating sessions, following the December 2009 Copenhagen climate conference and preparing the December 2010 Cancún climate conference. Building upon the Copenhagen Accord, the Bonn conference has focused on important elements to be agreed upon in Cancún. Nevertheless, the progress made by governments in Bonn has been perceived differently – for the UNFCCC Executive Secretary countries made progress towards deciding the shape of a successful result at Cancún, however, they must radically narrow down theirs choices; for the European Commissioner for Climate Action the Bonn negotiations have been ‘back-sliding’, whilst for the US lead negotiator countries were ‘stepping back’ from their pledges made in Copenhagen.

Read More…

8. The EU seeks US partners for join space research projects

On 20 July 2010, the European Commission launched a call for proposal, under the FP7 Space Research Programme, with a budget of € 99 millions. One day later, a conference was held at the Stanford University, California, US, organised by the Science Section of the EU Delegation to the US. The aim of this event was to inform the US space related research community about the EU Space Research Program, the topics of the current call for proposals, and the opportunities for US interest parties to collaborate with EU partners for space research projects. In fact, the Commission would like to generate a considerable degree of mutual interest and potential synergies between US and the European space research communities, which are both recognized as leading actors in the space field.

Read More…

9. Publication of the 2009 Environment Policy Review

The 2009 Annual Environment Policy Review was published by DG Environment on 10 August 2010. The Review defines recent environmental trends and policy developments at EU and national level as well as the progress towards the EU’s key environmental goals as set out in the 6th Environmental Action Programme. Although 2009 was an active year in all areas of environment policy and progress is evident in some areas, there is still a lot to desire for promoting green growth, making Europe more resource efficient and fighting loss of biodiversity.

Read More…

10. The European Commission adopted criteria for good environmental status of marine waters

The aim of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, adopted in June 2008, is to protect more effectively the marine environment across Europe. As a requirement under the Directive, the European Commission adopted on 1 September 2010 a decision outlining the criteria necessary to achieve good environmental status for Europe’s seas. The criteria and associated indicators will help Member States to develop coordinated marine strategies within each regional sea, ensuring consistency and allowing progress to be compared between regions. Some criteria are fully developed and operational, but others require further refinement, therefore additional scientific understanding for assessing good environmental status will be needed.

Read More…

11. Launch of the Marine Knowledge 2020 initiative

Responding to the users’ demand for creating an integrated European architecture on monitoring and measuring the seas, the European Commission has presented on 13 September 2010 the Marine Knowledge 2020 initiative. The latter aims at unlocking, assembling, and facilitating the use of marine data, which will help to enhance understanding of Europe’s seas and oceans as well as to foster competitiveness among marine data users. For that reason, the Commission has proposed an additional budget of €18.5 million per year for 2011-2013 for assembling data – approximately €11 million through the GMES programme. Additionally, the Commission has launched on 20 July 2010 the “The ocean of tomorrow 2011” call which will allocate €45 million to research projects targeting innovative and sustainable maritime activities.

Read More…

GMES Projects’ Corner

13. Recent activities of the MACC project

Main recent activities of the MACC project (developing the pre-operational GMES atmosphere monitoring service) include daily estimates of the emission of aerosols from fires in Russia detected by satellite measurements of thermal radiation, and provision of a number of products related to the distribution of stratospheric ozone and UV radiation at the surface. MACC is also planning its Second and Third General Assemblies to take place respectively in October 2010 and May 2011.

Read More…

14. MyOcean Science Days 2010

The first scientific colloquium on the MyOcean project (developing the pre-operational GMES marine monitoring service) will be held on 1-3 December 2010 in Toulouse, France, with the aim to discuss the development of the monitoring and forecasting systems, the quality control and processing of observations feeding into the assimilative systems, and the usage of MyOcean products for scientific applications. As part of the event, a call for abstracts has been launched on a range of themes related to MyOcean. The colloquium is open to all MyOcean participants as well as to scientists involved in the research topics of the call for abstracts.

Read More…

Source GMES.Info