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
First step to get located and informed about surrounding geographic data (Image: Esri)

A new app called Field Notes, developed by the mapping technology company Esri, allows identifying the impact of climate change in the surroundings of the user's area.

This new product could help governments, academics and policymakers, among others, to prepare for the upcoming events caused by climate change. At the same time, it creates a higher understanding about the world and the ongoing changes.

The project offers precise geographic information about any location on the globe. This includes the risk of natural hazards and could for instance describe how far is the nearest earthquake zone or the nearest volcano.  

“One of the things that has been lacking before this map came out is this sort of common language way of talking about the eco-system at a higher level,” said... read more

Publishing Date: 04/08/2015
DEVELOP participants using Earth Observation imagery (Source: NASA)

DEVELOP, NASA’s Applied Sciences’ Capacity Building Program, organizes a Virtual Poster Session (VPS) for this summer 2015 where participants can send their projects on Earth observation (EO), disaster risks, water monitoring, mapping invasive species distribution and environmental concerns. It features 178 researchers across 15 DEVELOP locations, who carry out 38 projects.

The participant projects need to analyse societal and scientific dilemmas and discover ways in which these issues can be better forecasted, monitored or mitigated through the application of NASA EO.

The competition... read more

Publishing Date: 03/08/2015
Fire seasons have become longer in areas marked with red and orange (Image: NASA)

A new joint study between the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Interim Reanalysis (ERA-Interim) reveals that fire seasons have lengthened between 1979 and 2013. Moreover, the researchers also discovered that tough fire seasons have become more frequent during this period.

This analysis was carried out by using satellite data on maximum temperatures, minimum relative humidity, the number of rain-free days... read more

Publishing Date: 31/07/2015
Testing phase of Sentinel-5 Precursor before its launch in 2016 (Image: ESA)

The Sentinel-5 Precursor will start its testing phase leaving from the UK, before its launch from Plesetsk, Russia in April 2016. The Sentinel-5 Precursor is using the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROMPOMI) and it has been developed by Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands for the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Netherlands Office.

The new aircraft will provide atmospheric chemistry data for the global monitoring programme for environment and security, Copernicus.  It aims to take a higher resolution of measurements of ... read more

Publishing Date: 29/07/2015
Annual change in groundwater storage from 2003 to 2013 in the 37 largest aquifer systems in the world (Image: NASA)

A recent study partly based on data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) has highlighted the risk of using groundwater basins for human consumption without a concrete knowledge about the remaining quantity of water.

The pair of satellites GRACE, that measures small changes in mass and gravity near Earth’s surface, has allowed scientists to observe water mass and its gravitational tug. This way they were able to follow the movements of water around the planet.

Due to the impact that running out of supplies in the current primary source of freshwater for approximately two billion people could cause, the limited knowledge on the state of large groundwater systems becomes an important risk. The research team found that the quantity of freshwater in around one third of the aquifers in the world has been strongly reduced... read more

Publishing Date: 29/07/2015
CryoSat-2 satellite image measuring Arctic sea ice thickness (Image: ESA)

Researchers at London’s Global University (UCL) and the University of Leeds discovered that the volume of Arctic ice increased 33% between 2013 and 2014 due to an unusually cool summer in 2013. The study, published in Nature Geoscience and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), was carried out by using 88 million measurements of sea ice thickness recorded by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) CryoSat-2 mission between 2010 and 2014.

Between 2010 and 2012 the satellite results indicated a 14% reduction in... read more

Publishing Date: 27/07/2015


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