Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UN climate conference hears how EO can help

13.12.2007
The role of Earth Observation satellites in combating climate change is being highlighted at the United Nations climate change conference where thousands of delegates from more than 180 countries are gathered to begin negotiations of an international emissions-cutting agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

The Protocol commits its signatories to reduce levels of greenhouse gases – chief among them carbon dioxide – believed to be increasing global warming. Around 25 billion tonnes of extra carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere annually by human activities, mainly through burning of fossil fuels, land clearance and wildfires.

Because deforestation in tropical rainforests accounts for as much as 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, finding ways to curb or halt deforestation is high on the conference’s agenda. One scheme under consideration, called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD), involves developed countries offsetting their emissions by paying developing countries for every hectare of forest they do not cut down. In order for the carbon-accounting scheme to work, systematic monitoring of forests is crucial, with tropical deforestation as a major contributor.

EO monitoring

Earth Observation (EO) can provide baseline mapping by high resolution optical satellite sensors like Landsat’s Thematic Mapper, Spot’s HR, Terra’s ASTER, IRS-P6’s medium resolution AWIFS, Envisat’s MERIS and Terra’s MODIS instruments, which are the work horses for large area baseline mapping.

However, tropical rainforests are notorious for persistent cloud cover, which prevents traditional satellite sensors from making regular acquisitions. Satellite radar sensors flown aboard ESA’s Envisat and ERS satellites are able to produce reliable high-quality images of these areas because they are able to peer through clouds, haze and smoke.

Using Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) sensor, an automated satellite radar monitoring application for deforestation detection has been developed by SarVision, a spin-off of Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.

The application, which has been implemented in the extensive peat swamp forests of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, has played an important role in establishing the first REDD initiative generating carbon credits from the conservation of peat swamps. Peat swamp forests store large quantities of carbon in the ground, resulting in them releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases from deforestation and fires.

Envisat is providing a new ASAR acquisition of the same peat land area (6 000 000 hectares) every 35 days – timely enough for local partners to effectively deploy law enforcement or to inform policy makers. Local partners on the ground confirm clearings and burnt areas by regularly targeted field surveys and ultra light aircraft. The change maps, available to users online in Google Earth, are easy to grasp even for an untrained eye.

Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH (RSS) of Germany is also using EO satellites to monitor land cover change and the impact of fires in tropical peat lands and emissions of carbon dioxide emissions caused by peat fires and peat decomposition. The company uses Envisat’s ASAR, in combination with optical sensors, to improve biomass estimates of pristine and degraded forest ecosystems for REDD baseline assessment and monitoring.

According to Professor Florian Siegert, CEO of RSS, the large increase in area of oil palm on peat that is projected to take place in coming years to satisfy the biofuel demand will release much more carbon dioxide emissions than the fossil fuel it is supposed to replace. Rudy Rabbinge, Dean of Wageningen University, expressed concerns at the UNFCCC Forest Day saying it is "unwise to go in big scale on biofuel in developing countries."

Dr Susan Page of the Department of Geography, University of Leicester, involved in the EU-funded CARBOPEAT and RESTORPEAT projects said: "Current land use and land practice developments in Southeast Asia give grave cause for concern. While deforestation rates in non-peatland areas are decreasing slightly owing to depletion of forest resources, those on peatlands have been rising for the last 20 years.

"In 2005, 25 percent of all deforestation in Southeast Asia was on peatlands owing to demand for land on which to establish plantations. Current UNFCCC negotiations in Bali on REDD could offer a crucial opportunity to reduce carbon emissions from tropical peatlands and thus contribute to combating global climate change."

ESA participation

ESA is manning an exhibit throughout the conference to communicate its own Kyoto-supporting services, such as two REDD case studies set up to help policy makers come up with feasible compensation mechanisms for Bolivia and Cameroon.

On Thursday, ESA hosted a special side event, ‘Space supporting UNFCCC - global products for a better understanding of our climate,’ which covered global aspects for monitoring essential climate-variables (ECV) and sought to illustrate EO as a feasible and practical tool for climate change observation. With support from ESA, the Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) presented their REDD sourcebook providing guidelines for implementation mechanisms.

In the future, even better tools from space to monitor tropical deforestation will be available through the EU-led initiative Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), which from 2011 will begin launching the Sentinel satellites that will enable operational monitoring.

Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMS3HBL2AF_planet_0.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>