Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Global space cooperation for disaster relief


The recent tragedy striking the coastlines of the Indian Ocean has highlighted the benefits of international cooperation in Earth Observation for the management of disaster relief, while demonstrating the scope for improved cooperation in the future.

International Charter on Space and Major Disasters

Immediately after the first tsunami struck in the Eastern Indian Ocean the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was invoked by three different agencies. India activated the Charter for access to data over its own territory, the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs activation related to Indonesia and Thailand and the French Civil Protection Agency opened the Charter for the case of Sri Lanka.

The Charter was implemented in 2000 to ensure the ready and immediate access to Earth Observation data from participating space agencies by those dealing with major disasters.

As a result, data have been acquired from many satellite sources since immediately after the event, including ESA’s Envisat, ERS and Proba satellites, the French SPOT series, Canada’s Radarsat, the USGS Landsat and India’s IRS series together with very high resolution data from the IKONOS and Quickbird series supported through the German Space Agency DLR and NASA respectively. Satellite data from before the disaster have also made a major contribution by providing a historical analysis baseline.

All data have given to the relief agencies in the field, with higher-level derived information being developed and made available by image processing and value-adding agencies.

The main benefit of the data has been to allow an immediate assessment of the extent of the damage in those areas where local information is either impossible or difficult to access, and to give a more general overview of the affected areas.

Many different agencies have been involved: for a complete list, together with examples of data and information products, visit the ESA Earthwatching website (see right navigation bar link).

But the disaster has also shown the need for improved in-situ data from floating buoys and from bottom pressure sensors, such as those available in the Pacific Ocean. It has also shown the need for improved communications between agencies: the Pacific tsunami warning system was able to detect that an earthquake had taken place in the Indian Ocean, not affecting significantly the Pacific, but the lack of communications between the various geographical regions, together with the lack of local preparedness and contingency planning, meant that full use of this information was not made. This could perhaps have saved many tens of thousands of lives, as only a modest response by those living close to the affected shorelines would have been crucial.

Towards a Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS)

In July 2003 the first summit of nations and organisations involved in Earth Observation was held in Washington DC, hosted by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It marked a first step in putting in place a global system of systems for improved coordination of observations of the Earth, whether from satellites or ground-based, oceanographic and atmospheric in-situ sensors. Summit participants launched the intergovernmental ad hoc Group on Earth Observations (GEO) to set up a ten-year implementation plan for the development of such a system of systems.

A second Earth Observation Summit hosted in April 2004 in Tokyo by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi furthered the process and it is expected that the third Summit, scheduled for 16 February 2005 and hosted by the European Commission (EC) in Brussels will adopt the plan and authorise its implementation. These recent tragic events have shown the important benefits that could be derived from a successful implementation of the GEO plan.

Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES)

The primary European contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems is the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative. Jointly led by the EC and ESA, this initiative will bring together the capacity of Europe to collect and manage data and information on the environment and civil security, for the benefit of the European citizen.

This European capacity is composed of three modules, which together constitute the functional GMES ’system’:

The production and dissemination of information in support of EU policies for Environment and Security;

The mechanisms needed to ensure a permanent dialogue between all stakeholders and in particular between providers and users;

The legal, financial, organisational and institutional frame to ensure the functioning of the system and its evolution.

Many elements of the modules already exist but have been conceived, designed and managed in isolation, limiting interoperability and production of relevant information. The coherence, efficiency and sustainability of a shared information system for Europe will be the added value of GMES. Proposals for the next phase of GMES, including the development of an operational series of Earth Observation satellites building on the European experience, will be made to ESA and EC Ministers in 2006.

Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data
22.03.2018 | University of Southampton

nachricht New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world
22.03.2018 | University of Cincinnati

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>