According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification is a process of land degradation that is partly due to human-induced activities. With their view from space, satellites can track land-use changes that often drive desertification – such as over-cultivation, ill-managed irrigation and deforestation.
As stated by the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon, "The theme of this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought … reminds us that climate change and desertification interact with each other at a variety of levels. They are two major manifestations of the same problem.
"On this World Day, let us strive to address desertification and climate change in a synergetic fashion, as part of an integrated approach to achieving sustainable development for all."
Desertification does not so much refer to the spread of existing deserts as the creation of new ones, through the reduction of productivity of vulnerable dryland areas by soil deterioration and erosion as well as the long-term loss of natural vegetation.
Because dryland desertification can be remedied or even reversed by using appropriate land management techniques, monitoring and forecasting areas most at risk are essential. As well as highlighting any relevant land use change, the view from space can support authorities in getting an overall picture of key pressures on land, such as burned land due to forest fires, erosion processes and their trends over time. This information, together with climatic data and socio-economic information provides an overview of the main causes and effects of land degradation.
ESA has been working closely with the UNCCD secretariat for more than five years to develop user-tailored and standardised information services based on satellite observations to assess and monitor desertification and its trends over time.
In 2004, ESA launched a satellite-based information service called DesertWatch to work with three of the European countries most affected by desertification – Italy, Portugal and Turkey. In addition to helping national and regional authorities to assess and monitor land degradation and desertification, DesertWatch also aims to support these authorities in reporting to the UNCCD.
To this end, satellite observations have been combined with in-situ information, processing tools, numerical models and geo-information systems to create standardised and comparable geo-information products that can be used to satisfy UNCCD reporting requirements.
The DesertWatch project is now close to completing its second phase, during which a full operational system has been developed by an international consortium. The DesertWatch information system will provide key public administrations with a large number of indicators and geo-information products relevant to monitoring and assessing the status of land degradation.
The ultimate objective of DesertWatch is to install software tools in the main operational centres of participating countries to help national and local authorities to complete and improve their assessment on land degradation and facilitate their decision making process in their fight to combat desertification.
The Eighth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 8) of UNCCD will be held in Madrid, Spain, from 3 to 14 September. The COP is the main decision making group of the UNCCD, which meets regularly to further the Convention's objectives.
ESA will host a side event throughout the UNCCD COP entitled ‘Earth Observation Technology to support the UNCCD: the DesertWatch project’. DesertWatch is taking place as part of ESA’s EO Data User Element (DUE).
Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy