View from Space Station. Image: NASA

The World Science Day for Peace and Development established by UNESCO in 2001 is commemorated every year on 10 November. It is not only a symbolic but essential celebration considering that Science is at the center to reach the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Action and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The peaceful use of Space science and technology is vital for economic and social development in different fields like agriculture, global health, environment, sustainable development, education, Humanitarian assistance among others.  In the case of Disaster Management, the use of technology helps to reduce the impact of disasters... read more

Publishing Date: 11/11/2016
Participants at the Earth Info Day

On Tuesday 08 November 2016, UNFCCC organized the “Earth Info Day” during CoP 22 as part of the SBSTA activities.  The event was used to showcase the benefits of Earth observation to track the manifestations of climate change in the atmosphere, in the oceans, and the polar caps.  The opportunity was used to make participants attending this event aware of the strengths of Earth observation technologies to track the uneven manifestation of sea-level rise in different regions of the world, the melting of ice in the polar caps, in Greenland and in glaciers, the changes in concentration of greenhouse gases in the... read more

Publishing Date: 10/11/2016

With the entry into force of the Paris climate change agreement on 04 November 2016; the Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention (CoP) in Marrakesh is essentially the first conference of parties dealing with its implementation.  As in previous CoPs, delegations from many Member States are meeting to agree on the ways in which the Paris agreement will be implemented.

UNOOSA is participating in various events including the special meeting of Heads of Space Agencies, to be attended by the Director of the Office, the 45th SBSTA session, the Earth Information Day organized by UNFCCC under SBSTA, and the session of the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP).  The opportunity has been used to make delegations attending the SBSTA session aware of the UNISPACE+50 process launched by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and UNOOSA since last year, that is aimed to... read more

Publishing Date: 10/11/2016
OCO-2 measurment from 2014. Image: NASA

Scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, produced three maps of carbon dioxide emissions based on satellite observations from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) and combining it with an innovative data-processing method.

This is the first time a satellite measures carbon dioxide with extreme precision permitting the creation of maps based exclusively on the data it provides.  Three highest-emitting areas of the planet: eastern United States, Central Europe and East Asia are the focus of the mapping. The complete results were published on 1 November 2016 in the paper “Direct Space-Based Observations of... read more

Publishing Date: 09/11/2016
ISS Expedition 49 crew. Image: NASA

The International Space Station (ISS) is celebrating 16 years of space living. The station was built with the contribution of space agencies from 15 countries between 1998 and 2011.  The first crew from the Russian Federation and the United States arrived in the station on 02 November 2000.   According to ESA, the station weights almost 400 tonnes and has more than 820 cubic metres of pressurised space - enough room for its crew of six persons and a vast array of scientific experiments. More information from ESA about ISS here. The station orbits around the Earth roughly every 90 minutes. In recent years the Space Station has been fitted with high definition cameras that provide images of Earth.  Crews in... read more

Publishing Date: 05/11/2016
Monitoring Hurricane Matthew. Image: NASA

Satellites improvements are an important contribution to the monitoring and forecasting of future storms. NASA is managing a new group of eight economical microsatellite observatories, called the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) that will be orbiting the Earth at low level. Each observatory will be evenly placed around the world. The mission’s launch is expected for 12 December 2016 from Cape Canaveral in Florida and it will start operating at the beginning of the 2017 hurricane season in the Atlantic. 

The goal is to measure areas within a storm that were out of reach to space observation in the past like strong inner rain-bands and superficial winds close to the eyewall of hurricanes... read more

Publishing Date: 03/11/2016
Geohazards in Europe. Courtesy of ESA

Monitoring the soil after seismic activity is fundamental to understand the small but significant modifications on the soil. Thanks to the merge of satellite imagery and computing is possible to do it automatically nowadays. The Copernicus Sentinel-1 twin radar satellite takes consecutive pictures of the same place and the imagery is then combined with cloud computing to unveil millimeter variations.

This well-known practice was developed in the 80’s using GPS centimeter measurements.

The on-line and cloud-based Geohazards Exploitation Platform allows the processing of large amount of satellite information covering vast geographic regions, showing the benefits of ICT when applied to earth... read more

Publishing Date: 29/10/2016
Satellite Image of New York City. Courtesy of ESA

The relevance of Satellite images to estimate the number of people living in urban or rural areas was presented on 18 October 2016 by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) held in Quito, Ecuador from 17 to 20 October 2016.

This vital information is presented in the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL), a new, open and free tool that is also the most complete and reliable of its kind. Besides providing information on where people live, it is also an evaluation instrument when it comes to determine which urban centers are exposed to disasters.  

The GHSL shows the growth in population and of built up areas over the last 40 decades.  The... read more

Publishing Date: 25/10/2016
Ice change in Greenland. Courtesy of ESA

On 20 October 2016 the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument released its first imagery. The tool is the most new of the Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite, operated and managed in collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat). The data it will provide includes among others: information on oceans, continental water, events like el Niño and... read more

Publishing Date: 21/10/2016
Indicators, image courtesy of UNDRR

An Open-ended Intergovernmental Expert Working Group on Indicators and Terminology was established by the UN General Assembly in June 2015, as a way to steer efforts regarding indicators to assess advances in the context of the seven targets established in the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The experts in this OEIWG are nominated by Member States (countries). By June 2016, 255 experts form 107 Member States have been nominated to participate in the OEIWG.

UNDRR organized the third meeting of the OEIWG in September 2015 to examine and discuss the indicators to monitor the 7 Global Targets established on the Sendai Framework. The whole document is available... read more

Publishing Date: 08/10/2016
Terminology, image courtesy of UNISDR

The Sendai framework for action includes a call to update the disaster risk reduction terminology.  A special group has been set up to steer this effort.   The Office for Disaster Risk Reduction of the United Nations published the results the latest deliberations of this group in a background paper which aims to provide information that contributes to the implementation of the Sendai Framework.

The document offers information on the historical development of the Disaster Risk Reduction Terminology produced by the UNISDR which started in 2002 and has continued till recent years. A review process of the “2009 UNISDR Terminology” started in 2014 supported by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group (STAG) and its member the European commission Joint Research Center (EC-JRC) and their partners.

To access the complete document,... read more

Publishing Date: 08/10/2016
Image courtesy of NASA by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Adam Voiland.

On the 17th of July 2016, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) captured images of the Hurricane Darby and... read more

Publishing Date: 28/07/2016
Inundations caused by Hurricane Alex in 2010 in Mexico. Image courtesy of Flickr website

The Atlantic hurricane season takes place every year from the 1st of June to the 30th of November . This year, activity in the Atlantic basin began unusually early with the development of Hurricane Alex in the eastern Atlantic in January. The National Hurricane Center said it was the earliest hurricane to form in the Atlantic since 1938.

The NASA satellites provide information on cloud extent, sea-surface temperatures, geographic locations and rates of rainfall within each storm, and even surface winds. All of that information is used to create daily hurricane updates and its very useful in early warning systems and in... read more

Publishing Date: 25/05/2016
Landsat Earth observation images enables knowledge on land and resources (Image: USGS).
In 2008, Landsat Earth observation images became available to all users free of charge. Since then, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) portal has provided roughly 30 million Landsat Earth observation images for users to download. Within the next years, downloads of satellite imagery are expected to increase further. 
Landsat imagery is useful in different fields such as environmental monitoring,... read more
Publishing Date: 18/11/2015
Earth observation agreement articulates space agencies from EU and USA to use earth observation technology to mitigate the impact of natural disasters. (Source: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center)

The European Commission and the United States confirmed a new agreement to facilitate data sharing from the Copernicus constellation of Sentinel Earth Observation satellites among a broad spectrum of users on both sides of the Atlantic. The treaty was signed on 16 October in Washington.

Earth Observation for different purposes is the main goal of the new cooperation policy. Climate change research, enhance forecasting, ocean and atmospheric monitoring, land use management and... read more

Publishing Date: 22/10/2015
At the Eye on Earth Summit 2015 the UAE highlights the use of space assets (Image: NASA).

Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAE) reinforced the agency’s commitment to strengthen international collaboration through space agency cooperation for the use of space assets in environmental research. 

In his speech at the Eye on Earth Summit 2015 in Abu Dhabi, Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi highlighted: “Space assets are our ‘Eyes on Earth’ and enable us to perform Earth Observation. GNSS and... read more

Publishing Date: 09/10/2015
Satellite image of the water-scarce Sahara desert in Algeria (Image: ESA)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will develop an open-access database using satellite information to support water-scarce countries in the Near East and North Africa, where droughts and food security are major issues. The portal’s objective is to gather and assess satellite data in order to enhance land and water productivity, and to foster the sustainability of agricultural systems. Its development will presumably begin in October 2015.

This new four-year  project will be carried out at three spatial scales: the continental level over the whole of Africa and Near East, country and river basin level and, irrigation scheme level. Additionally, FAO will provide technical support in land... read more

Publishing Date: 25/08/2015
Hurricanes hitting the U.S. will be easier to predict with the new satellite mission (Image: NASA)

NASA has began to build its new satellite mission focused on predicting hurricanes, called Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), with the collaboration of the University of Michigan. It will comprise eight Earth observation (EO) microsatellites which will be able to measure ocean surface winds associated with tropical cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes throughout their life cycle. Their launch is expected in late 2016 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The satellite constellation will offer a new image of... read more

Publishing Date: 20/08/2015
Difference from average emissions for 2014 in grams of carbon per square meter per year (Image: NASA)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has published a report in which the quantity of carbon dioxide and other pollutants produced by fires that remains in the atmosphere has been determined.

The estimation of the polluting emissions into the atmosphere is possible thanks to the data produced by computer models that combine satellite observations of burned area and active fires together with information about... read more

Publishing Date: 19/08/2015
WorldView-3 getting ready for its launch one year ago (Image: DigitalGlobe)

The WorldView-3 satellite sensor has completed a successful year in orbit after its launch on August 13, 2014. During this year it has contributed to disaster and humanitarian efforts in critical situations such as the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015.

The advanced fourth-generation satellite WorldView-3 was licensed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and contributed to DigitalGlobe’s constellation being its first super-spectral and high... read more

Publishing Date: 18/08/2015
Parts of land lost to the sea along the last four decades (Image: Zachary Tessler/USGS and NASA)

Sea-level rise is increasing the risk of flooding in coastal deltas, a recent study has shown. Global datasets help estimating how and where delta flood risk will be higher.

Deltas are prone-flooding areas where over 340m people have established their home, now future sea-level rise associated with climate change is representing a greater risk for them. The threat to all coastal communities around the world has increased in the deltas due to their exceptional geological characteristics.

A suite of global datasets has allowed a group of researchers to estimate how and where sea-level rise and land subsidence, a combination called relative sea-level rise (RSLR), will intensify delta flood risk. The highest risk increases are... read more

Publishing Date: 13/08/2015
Image captured by Sentinel-2A satellite on the vegetation of Northwest Sardinia, Italy (Source: ESA)

There is a need for wider coordination between conservation organizations and space agencies to decide which variables tracked from space can be useful in order to monitor changes in biodiversity on a global scale. It is crucial to identify these changes as they may very well have impacts on the occurrence of natural disasters, such as droughts, landslides, floods and wildfires. 

Although the definition of biodiversity and the factors that influence it seem clear, it is difficult to quantify, as it cannot be reduced to physical units. Moreover, scientists have tried to set variables for measuring biodiversity but they faced additional problems, as the lack of access to data, uncertainties in the continuity of observations and limitations of satellite imagery. ... read more

Publishing Date: 13/08/2015
Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, monitoring  precipitation measurements from space (Source: NASA)

A joint study by Cornell University, Princeton University and The Aerospace Corporation found that the current portfolio of rainfall satellites is insufficient to meet information needs for global flood monitoring, and that further loss of satellites would dramatically worsen data coverage.

According to the authors, there are currently 10 rainfall monitoring satellites, but four of them have become obsolete and the rest are reaching the end of their lifespan. However, no specific plans exist to replace them with new satellites that measure real-time rainfall. This is a major problem as the data captured by these space artifacts is essential for flood management: the information is introduced into sophisticated models to forecast the timing and intensity of floods, allowing governments to take action to mitigate the impact of flooding.

Even with the current set of 10 rainfall... read more

Publishing Date: 12/08/2015
I-Band image of the storm provided by VIIRS instrument (Image: NASA)

As ESA announced, the Meteosat Second Generation-4 (MSG-4) captured its first image of Earth yesterday, 4 August. At the same time, international satellites were providing critical information about the Super typhoon Soudelor’s, which is affecting the Pacific Ocean. These two events highlight the constant role Earth observation is playing in monitoring and forecasting climate events.

The first image captured by the Spinning Enhanced... read more

Publishing Date: 05/08/2015
Artist’s conception of SMAP taking data from orbit (Image: NASA)

NASA will release on August 2015 the first Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) data, the beta version of L1 radar and radiometer data. The SPAM mission was developed in order to record surface soil moisture measurements with high levels of accuracy and resolution.

It will improve weather and climate forecasts, flood predictions and drought monitoring systems. The measurements provided by the SMAP global mapping open a new path for monitoring the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere.

As explained on the website of the International Society for Optics and... read more

Publishing Date: 04/08/2015


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