May 01, 2016

Eye in the sky focuses on climate change

Written by SNWA. To mark Big Data Week (May 2-6) ScienceNetwork WA asked Dr Kathryn Barker from the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre to delve into how a satellite earth-monitoring project will vastly improve mankind’s understanding of how climate change is affecting the planet.

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Earth observing satellites can play a fundamental role in gathering reliable and accurate environmental information.

Earth observations have been used for decades in areas such as weather forecasting and urban planning; they can also provide insight into climate change, risk and damage insurance assessments.

This information enables us to understand how our planet and its climate are changing, and how human activities influence these changes in our daily lives, now and into the future.

Decision makers, business and citizens alike can use this information to take appropriate action and protect mankind’s well-being and climate security.

A new generation of Earth observing satellites, called the Sentinels, are being launched as part of the most ambitious Earth Observation programme to date.

The European Commission (EC), in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), heads Copernicus, the European Monitoring Programme.

This programme specifically addresses land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security issues.

For the next 30 years data will be collected from space, sea and land providing reliable and accurate information.

Collectively the Sentinels are expected to collect four terabytes of data per day from radar, altimetry, optical and atmospheric sensors.

The Copernicus satellites are already providing a highly economical, fast and efficient method to view remote and urban Australia.

Correspondingly this means that the Australian research sector, spatial industry and the national science agencies GA and CSIRO can benefit significantly from access to the observations Copernicus provides.

As a result the Australian Government has established a strategic partnership with the European Commission (EC) to ensure Copernicus data are accessible in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

This densely populated region which is experiencing high rates of economic growth, faces significant challenges in areas where earth observations can help.

There will also be opportunities for Australian industry to create innovative products and services in agriculture, fisheries, transport, mining and energy sectors.

Copernicus data is such a powerful resource it will also be able to support the management of iconic sites such as the Great Barrier Reef.

It is envisaged that a high-speed data access and analysis hub, managed by Geoscience Australia (GA), will provide access to over 12 petabytes of data by 2025.

This Thursday’s Big Data From Space presentation will address so-called ‘big data’ challenges in research, such as those presented by Copernicus.

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