A clearer view of earth observation data

An EU-funded project launched in Barcelona, Spain on 17 February has set out to enhance the usability of global environmental data. With its strong emphasis on standardised quality metadata, it is expected to boost the readability of the GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) databases.

The new project, called GEOVIQUA ('Quality-aware visualisation for the Global Earth Observation System of Systems'), has secured an EU contribution of EUR 3.27 million to its total budget of EUR 4.02 million. EU support for this three-year endeavour is provided under the environment Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

The project involves partners from Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK as well as the European Space Agency (ESA), led by the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. Announcing the launch, CREAF explained that GEOVIQUA 'aims to develop a rigorous estimation framework for quality, uncertainty and usability of global environmental data and to disseminate the quality information to users via browsers and data viewers'. In doing so, GEOVIQUA is expected to make a significant contribution to the development of GEOSS, an international public infrastructure dedicated to centralising and disseminating data generated by land-, sea-, air- and space-based earth observation systems. One of the objectives driving the deployment of this global data network is to inform decision-making processes.

GEOSS focuses on a range of complex issues where precise spatial and temporal resolution data is of particular relevance to society. The GEOSS provides data and information across nine societal benefit areas (SBAs), complex clusters of issues which require accurate spatial and temporal resolution data., The nine SBAs listed in the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan are as follows:

1. Reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-induced disasters.
2. Understanding environmental factors affecting human health and well-being.
3. Improving management of energy resources.
4. Understanding, assessing predicting, mitigating and adapting to climate variability and change.
5. Improving water resource management through better understanding of the water cycle.
6. Improving weather information, forecasting and warning.
7. Improving the management and protection of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems.
8. Supporting sustainable agriculture and combating desertification.
9. Understanding, monitoring and conserving biodiversity.

The Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) will be a 'distributed system of EO systems', building on and strengthening current co-operation efforts among existing observing and processing systems within their mandate.