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
Cascading use is also beneficial for wood
11.12.2017 | Technische Universität München
The future of crop engineering
08.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences