Image courtesy of ESA.

On 7 March 2017 ESA launched the new Sentinel-2B satellite from the Kourou spatial station in French Guyana as a twin to the Sentinel-2A which has been in orbit since June 2015.  Together, the two Sentinel satellites will cover the surface of the Earth every five days.  This improved coverage will be of extreme value to those involved in disaster risk reduction and emergency response efforts as the satellites will reduce the re-visit time to areas affected by disasters worldwide.

Publishing Date: 08/03/2017
Image courtesy of NASA/NOAA

GOES-16 is the first spacecraft of NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) next-generation geostationary satellites.  NASA informed on 23 January 2017 that it had sent the first high-resolution images. This incredibly sharp imagery now opens new weather forecasting possibilities, as it provides more detailed view of hazardous weather and reveals features that previous instruments might have missed. The forecast can thus be more accurate and provide better information to emergency managers. 

To see GOES-16’s first images, visit NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service website:


Publishing Date: 14/02/2017
Images courtesy of NASA.

NASA’s platform Images of Change has added new series of images that show how the mankind has changed the planet. The images were being captured over time and then compared; the changes can be seen clearly. They show e.g. shrinking glaciers, deforestation, urbanization, lake level fluctuations and other phenomenon. To see the changes, click here:,-arizona. According to NASA these images serve as a source for studying the planet Earth’s transformation as well as for creating necessary policy measures.

Read more at: read more

Publishing Date: 04/02/2017

The 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in Cancun, Mexico on 22-26 May. It is the first time that the Global Platform Session is hosted outside Geneva. There are more than 5,000 participants expected, including policy makers and disaster risk managers.

The Global Platform is being held biennially since 2007 and it is one of the world’s biggest gatherings of disaster risk reduction stakeholders. It brings together government officials as well as leaders from the private sector, science and civil society and it facilitates the dialogue among them.  The Platform also aims to establish a stronger and more sustainable movement towards disaster risk reduction and create new alliances for the investment, development and use of tools applied in disaster risk reduction.

UN-SPIDER will take part in the Global Platform Session as it has done in previous occasions, and is working with the partners of the Global Partnership using Space Technology... read more

Publishing Date: 03/02/2017
Sentinel-2 maps changes in inland water bodies. Image: courtesy of ESA

Scientists from the Join Research Center collaborating with Google have quantified changes in global water surface which are documented in interactive maps they created for the modifications happening over the past three decades.

They created the Global Surface Water Explorer using more than three million satellite scenes collected between 1984 and 2015 and produced using 10000 computers running at the same time.  Each individual image was converted into a set of global maps with a resolution of 30 meters allowing the users to assess changes in the location and persistence of surface water at the local, regional and global levels.  

The Explorer shows that water surface have increased during the considered time period. While some 90000 km2 of permanent surface water is disappearing, 180000 km2 of new permanent water bodies are forming in some regions of the world. The decrease is related to drought and human action including river diversion, damming and unregulated... read more

Publishing Date: 09/12/2016
Lanslide. Image: NASA

Extreme events like heavy rainfall, storms or hurricane activate landslides. Unstable soil surface conditions can make heavy rains act as the triggering point for mud, rocks and/or debris to move down from mountains and hillsides. These mass movements cause unexpected human and economical losses. Heavy rainfall is the most common cause for landslides although earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, erosion, collapse of groundwater reservoirs, ice melt can also cause them.

NASA developed the Global Landslide Catalog (GLC) to indentify rainfall-triggered landslides incidents in the planet, no matter the size, impact or location. The GLC collects information from media, disaster databases, scientific reports and other sources. The Catalog has been gathered since 2007 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. For more information on the GLC please click here.


Publishing Date: 12/11/2016
IMERG visualization. Image: NASA

The Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurment or IMERG released through NASA GES DISC, is a global rainfall dataset providing precipitation rates for the whole planet every half hour. Estimating the amount of accumulated rainfall for any region over a period of time is possible using IMERG. The NASA Scientific Visualization Studio site offers an animation that shows an example of rainfall in the planet during a week in August, 2014 and can be accessed here


Publishing Date: 12/11/2016
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 both at the human and material level. During the last two centuries natural disasters, like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides and wildfires have become more frequent, unpredictable and intense. Before a storm, for example, remote sensing information provides with systems and models to anticipate... 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 atmosphere in recent decades, and of the changes in temperature and salinity that the oceans are experiences as a result of the absorption of heat and CO2.   The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) took the opportunity to present information on the GCOS Implementation Plan that has been presented to the CoP for consideration; as well as efforts to be conducted by the World... 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 shape the Space 2030 agenda.  UNOOSA made delegations and observers aware of its efforts 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 Anthropogenic CO2 Emission Areas from OCO-2” that appears on the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

One of the key points of the OCO-2 mission that was launched on July 1st 2014, is to be an innovative tool for understanding the sources of carbon dioxide emissions and how they change over time is . For more information about... 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 orbit can collect images of specific events on the planet as they unfold, which can contribute to disaster response efforts. For more images click... 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. The measurement will be done with GPS signals and technology on a small scale, which means that there is no need for active devices like radars or lasers.  This technology is essential for emergency management authorities and other stakeholders like weather forecasters that... 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 observation.

In the nearest future the plan is to cover all tectonic plates in the world contributing to the preparedness and risk reduction in case of volcanic hazards or tremors. 

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 world urban population living in coastal regions has duplicated, from 45 million people on 1975 to 88 million people on 2015, reported EARSC. This expansion also increases the risk to... 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 la Niña and changes in weather, which contribute to examine how healthy the planet is. 

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 here

There are vital issues to be considered by the OEIWG including: the scope of the indicators (including hazard category and data collection), the normalization, temporal issues ,... 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, including the methodology, consultation process and results, and the updated terminology, click... 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 Tropical Storm Estelle.

Those two natural phenomena follow previous ones which also occurred in the eastern Pacific Ocean named Agatha, Blas and Celia. If those different disasters did not perpetrate any damage and remained above the water, they are part of the hurricane season in Eastern Pacific which appears every year. 

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 disaster preparedness efforts.

NASA has many resources covering 2016’s Atlantic Ocean and Central Pacific hurricane seasons which are now... 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, disaster risk reduction and disaster management, resource management, climate change, as well as to track population developments. Landsat imagery enables knowledge on land and resources, which is essential for governments and economies. 
Today, more than 30 countries possess Earth observing satellites worldwide. Current trends show an increase in cooperation between national governments and... 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 mitigation of natural disasters are some of the focus areas.


This new agreement will benefit institutions such as the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospherics Administration (NOAA); and the U.S Geological Survey (USGS). It enables representative institutions from both sides to access full and free... 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 satellite communications are indispensable tools for environmental monitoring and management and help pave the way for a sustainable, safe and ecologically balanced environment.” 

Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi further emphasized that the mandate of the UAE to promote earth monitoring and tracking... 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 monitoring and water productivity, identifying productivity gaps, suggesting solutions and contributing to a sustainable growth in agricultural production.

The project is funded by the Government of the Netherlands and FAO will be in charge of its implementation in conjunction... 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 wind speeds over the entire tropics every few hours, instead of the current space artifacts that provide them every few days. Moreover, it will be able to monitor and forecast swift changes in wind speeds, hurricane intensity and storm surges.

The CYGNSS mission passed two NASA examinations and the assembly of the first microsatellite began last August 14. Each satellite would weight roughly 64 pounds (29 kg) and measure approximately 20x25x11 inches (... read more

Publishing Date: 20/08/2015


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