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
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences