Floods, landslides, and droughts are hazards that are triggered by excess or shortage of precipitation. Monitoring precipitation is important to see those hazards coming and to enable decision makers to take measures as early as possible. Precipitation data - together with anciliary data - thus help to prevent that natural hazards turn into disasters.
Early detection of droughts is important for managing emerging crop losses to prevent or mitigate possible related famines, and for dealing with increased fire risk. Satellite imagery helps to monitor precipitation, soil moisture, and vegetation health to support drought early warning systems. It is used to feed monthly drought bulletins and to issue warnings. Near-real-time data related to drought are available free of charge via several regional and global platforms.
The European Union Copernicus programme will be supported by services of the European Data Relay System (EDRS) according to a recent press release. ESA and Airbus DS have signed a service level agreement on 20 February 2015 to provide high-speed communications to the Copernicus Sentinel-1 and -2 dedicated missions, starting in 2015 until 2021, with an option for extension until 2028.
Vegetation indices derived from Earth observation satellites are important for wide range of applications such as vegetation monitoring, drought studies, agricultural activities, climate and hydrologic modeling. Vegetation monitoring plays an important role in drought early warning systems, which help to anticipate the risk of food crises at local and global scale.
In order to simplify and economize the storage and processing of large-scale raster data, the United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency recently made available the new MapReduce Geo (MrGeo) application.
Digital elevation models (DEMs) are needed for mapping and modelling natural hazards and risks that are influenced by topography, for example floods and landslides. Satellite data provide elevation information.
The United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on 29 August 2014 the establishment of an Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG) on the DataRevolution for Sustainable Development. He expects the group to provide him with inputs to shape “an ambitious and achievable vision” for a future development agenda beyond 2015 to succeed the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).