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GEO in the News

GEO boosts access to data for Haiti earthquake

Time reports that GEO members are providing data making it possible to assess the geological forces that caused last month's devastating earthquake and to evaluate options for post-disaster reconstruction. "GEO is working to break through the bureaucratic logjams in which such data often become mired." Read more here.


CODATA newsletter examines GEOSS

CODATA interviews GEO Secretariat Director José Achache about data sharing and other GEO priorities in a special issue of its newsletter.


EARSC newsletter highlights GEO

The spring 2009 edition of the Earth Observation magazine of the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) features an interview with GEO Secretariat Director José Achache about the progress being made by GEO in implementing GEOSS and engaging the private sector.


Tunis hosts seminar on water cycle in Africa

TUNIS, TUNISIA, 5 Jan 2009 - A four-day symposium on "The water cycle in Africa", which is part of a coordinated, comprehensive and sustainable earth observation programme, opened on Monday in Tunis as part of an intergovernmental cooperation programme, organisers said.

The programme consists of a 10-year plan (2003-2013) aimed at consolidating the Earth Observation Global Systems (GEOSS) agreed during the Earth Summit in Washington in July 2003. Read full article.


Ghana Ready To Support Evaluation Of Africa's Ecological System

GHANA (Daily Graphic), 28 Oct 2008 - The Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, has expressed the country's readiness to participate in any initiative on the continent to build the capacities of professionals and institutions to develop decision support systems and relevant applications for the monitoring, management and evaluation of Africa's ecological systems.

Speaking at the opening of the seventh international conference of the African Association of Remote Sensing and the Environment (AARSE) in Accra yesterday, Alhaji Mahama said such applications were also necessary to enhance the effective management of natural resources on the continent for the benefit of present and future generations. Read full article.


José Achache [photo: Joerg Reichardt]  
José Achache
[photo: Joerg Reichardt]

Captain Calamity Crunches Data for Global Warning System

Talk about a high-pressure job: Network the world's environmental sensors, build a system to integrate the petabytes of data they produce, and, oh yeah, pull it all together to predict when disasters (like Katrina's siblings) are about to strike. French geophysicist José Achache is one lucky geek.


Earth is peppered with high tech monitoring hardware—from polar-orbiting satellites to instrument-laden buoys. Problem is, they're all operating in Babel-style disconnect. "We're spending billions a year on observation systems," Achache says. "But because of our fragmented approach, we're suboptimal." Achache—whose resume includes such nerdeaucratic posts as deputy director general of the French space agency and director of Earth observation at the European Space Agency—is leading the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, a 10-year endeavor to link the data-collection tech of 74 nations. Crunch enough data, the thinking goes, and scientists will be able to create better climate models and forecasts (theoretically giving us a head start on nature's cavalcade of calamities). Read full article


Measuring air quality in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA (The Associated Press), 30 Sep 2008 - Air quality in Central America, the Caribbean and southern Mexico will be monitored by specialists who can warn about the presence of smoke from forest fires or volcanic activity, using information gathered from satellites of the U.S. agencies NASA and NOAA.

The tool, part of "SERVIR-AIR", can be accessed on the internet and was launched during the Second Symposium on the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) held in Panama. The symposium was a huge success, with representation from 21 nationalities, 18 governments and 16 organizations... Read full article in Spanish. English translation will be available soon.


NOAA administrator leaving

WASHINGTON (AP), 24 Sep 2008 — Conrad C. Lautenbacher is resigning as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he announced Tuesday. Lautenbacher, who for nearly seven years has led the agency that forecasts weather and climate, studies the oceans and operates marine fisheries, will leave office Oct. 31.


He led U.S. efforts to create the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, which now includes more than 70 countries and 50 international organizations.

And he was instrumental in the development of a tsunami warning system in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans following the disastrous Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004

Read full artcile. See also NOAA website.


Bangladesh adopts long-time flood forecasting technology

BANGLADESH (TH), 18 Sep 2008 — Bangladesh Water Development Board has adopted a long-time flood forecasting technology to cope with the perilous impact of climate change.

Instead of existing 3-day forecasting technology, the long-time one consists of three types of forecast schemes: short term (1-10 days), medium term (20-25 days) and long term (1- 6 months), local daily The Independent reported Sunday.

Read full artcile.


Voluntary co-operation can work on global problems

Science and Development Network (IISD/MEA Bulletin) 15 Sep 2008 — The development of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) demonstrates that voluntary collaboration between governments and international organisations can be an effective way to address some of the world's pressing scientific concerns, says Michael Williams.

GEOSS, which will provide better access to environmental change data and analysis — to help the fight against global warming, biodiversity loss and resource depletion — relies on a flexible form of governance embodied by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), says Williams, a spokesman for GEO...

Read article on Science and Development Network and full article in IISD/MEA Bulletin


Keeping watch on Planet Earth

(Energies - the totalgroup’s external magazine No14) At the 2003 Earth Observation Summit in Washington, around thirty governments adopted the G8 Evian proposal to bring all Earth observation systems under one umbrella to create a permanent and global set of indicators and monitor the Planet’s condition, natural phenomena and the changes caused by humans. This cooperative system for observation, measurement and forecasting, called the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), is now becoming a reality, bringing together different countries as well as disciplines and pooling already-existing observation infrastructure on all continents. A new tool to preserve Planet Earth?

Read full artcile.


Businesses join effort to fight climate change through carbon offsets
(Infocom, 22 Aug 2008, Costa Rica)

During the celebration of National Parks Day last Aug. 22, several companies, along with the Climate Change Friendly Program, joined efforts to educate about and compensate for the impact of climate change, thus benefitting the planet’s environmental health.


Costa Rica has joined the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) — the climate change control system that provides for a multilateral exchange of scientific information about the impacts of global warming on the planet. Read full article

More research-based climate modelling underscored
(The New Nation, 21 Aug 2008 - BSS, Dhaka)

Meteorological scientists began a two-day seminar here on Wednesday emphasising the need for more research-based climate modelling through the SAARC Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC) to cope with climate change....

Talking to BSS, Dr Nazrul Islam said in view of looming impact of climate change, the government has taken a 10-year implementation plan under the framework of Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to improve sustainable water resource management in Bangladesh.

The GEOSS will help improve the country's water resources management through sharing data and information system as part of regional cooperation among the South Asian countries, he said... Read full artcile


Bangladesh’s Meghna to be model basin for flood forecasting
(Thaindian News, 11 Aug 2008 - IANS)

Dhaka, Aug 11 (IANS) Bangladesh is set to evolve a model for forecasting floods and rainfall starting with the Meghna river after which the other river basins of the country would also also be included in the proposed system. The 10-year plan has been initiated with Meghna and the first model is set to be complete by 2011, the Daily Star reported Monday.

Flowing as the Ganga from the Himalayas in India, the river acquires the name Meghna once the Brahmaputra joins it in Bangladesh and is the major river system of the country.

The plan is being initiated in view of looming impact of climate change, under the framework of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to improve sustainable water resource management in Bangladesh.

The GEOSS, an alliance of 52 governments, including the European Commission, is assisting the South Asian countries to improve the region’s water resources management through sharing data and information.

As part of the move, Asian Water Cycle Initiative (AWCI) under the GEOSS, a comprehensive environmental data and information provider worldwide, has selected the Meghna basin as a model basin. Read full article


Disaster Response Imagery Ample, but Distribution Still Tough
(Space News, 9 June 2008)

The Myanmar cyclone and Chinese earthquake disasters demonstrated that the world has plenty of imaging satellites to monitor disasters but is still unable to make imagery and other data easily and widely available to emergency-response teams, government officials said.


The Group on Earth Observations, known as GEO, based in Geneva and created by around 60 nations, is assembling an Internet portal that ultimately should provide one-stop-shop service permitting disaster-response teams to select from a range of space-based sensors overflying the affected areas.

José Achache, GEO's director, said June 5 that his organization is assembling such a website but that it is not yet ready. When it is, he said, at least one bottleneck in the disaster-response chain — where to go to find out what satellite data is available — will be removed.


China's Fengyun-3a satellite to advance monitoring of weather and environment

The China Meteorological Administration has launched the first satellite in its new Fengyun-3 series of Earth observation satellites. The Fengyun-3a, a second-generation, sun-synchronous, polar-orbiting satellite, was launched on 27 May. Its payloads include a Visible and Infrared Radiometer (VIRR), an Infrared Atmospheric Sounder (IRAS), a Micro-wave Temperature Sounder (MWTS), a Micro-Wave Humidity Sounder (MWHS), a Medium Resolution Spectral Imager (MERSI), and several other monitors. By strengthening numerical weather prediction and environmental monitoring, the Fengyun-3a promises to make an important contribution to the implementation of GEOSS.

EUMETSAT and JRC agreement on climate to support GEOSS
(CORDIS news, 28 March 2008)

As the consequences of climate change become increasingly apparent, two European bodies, EUMETSAT and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), have come together and signed a collaboration agreement. Data generated by EUMETCast, EUMETSAT's near-real-time broadcast system for environmental data, will allow the JRC's African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Observatory to generate data...

This will contribute to building the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.


Protect the climate - but don't forget the science
(, 28 March 2008, by Richard Anthes)

It is clear that our planet is warming at an unprecedented rate and that human beings are the major cause. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other organizations last year took note of the record warmth in midwinter to the stunning loss of Arctic sea ice in the summer...


Developing Countries Get Help to Cope with Climate Change
(Environmental News Service, 28 February 2008)

WASHINGTON D.C. -- A new agreement between the World and the National Oceanic and Aeronautics Administration (NOAA) of the US promises to help realize the societal benefits of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, particularly in the Americas. Read full article


Global push to predict weather
(Courier Mail, 21 February 2008)

Example of impact of extreme weather & climate events: flooding  

Australia's Governor-General has spoken to the leaders of China, Russia and the US about a joint "space-age" project for more accurate forecasts of floods, drought and weather. This high-level support for strengthening Earth observations highlights the importance of GEO's Project on "The socio-economic and environmental benefits of a revolution in weather, climate and Earth system analysis and prediction".


Olympics - Harsh Spring Sandstorms Forecast For North China
(Planet Ark, 21 February 2008)

BEIJING -- Northern China is likely to be hit with more frequent and more severe sandstorms this year, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday, posing a challenge to Olympics organisers hoping for blue skies over Beijing.

Telecoms to save lives when disaster strikes
(Dataweek, 20 February 2008)

The Global Forum on 'Effective Use of Telecommunications/ICT for Disaster Management: Saving Lives' closed recently, having launched two important initiatives, the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies and the ITU Network of Volunteers for Emergency Telecommunications.

The Bush Plan for Climate Change by James L. Connaughton and Daniel M. Price
(Wall Street Journal, 26 January 2008)
Following the adoption of the “Bali Roadmap”, the White House emphasizes the role that the Global Earth Observation System of Systems can play in supporting climate monitoring and adaptation.

A plan for monitoring Africa's weather
(Christian Science Monitor, 5 December 2007)
As climate change makes the developing world even more vulnerable to natural disasters, developed countries extend a global partnership for sharing satellite images.

Global Earth Observation System Could Significantly Cut Disaster Toll
(VOA, 30 November 2007)
A new global Earth observation system, that could save lives in disasters such as the recent cyclone in southern Bangladash, is being reviewed at a ministerial-level summit in Cape Town this week.

Chinese-Brazilian satellite images to be distributed free to Africa
(Macauhub, 29 November 2007)
Brazil and China plan to freely distribute satellite images to Africa that will aid the observation of natural disasters and other phenomena, officials from both countries said in Cape Town Wednesday.

Countries Urged to Create Disaster Warning Systems
(Reuters, 29 November 2007)
Governments in rich and poor countries should focus more on investing in early warning systems that can save lives in natural disasters, a United Nations expert said.

Global System Could Cut Disaster Toll by 2018
(Reuters, 29 November 2007)
A global satellite system should come on line next decade, potentially saving billions of dollars and thousands of lives by boosting preparedness for natural disasters, a top scientist said.

World's Sunniest Spots Hint at Energy Bonanza
(Reuters, 29 November 2007)
Southern California is sunny, the French Riviera is sunny, but NASA says the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the Sahara Desert in Niger are the sunniest -- and the information could be worth money.

China, Brazil give Africa free satellite land images
(AFP, 28 November 2007)
China and Brazil will give Africa free satellite imaging of its landmass to help the continent respond to threats like deforestation, desertification and drought, the two countries said Wednesday.

Global system could cut disaster toll by 2018
(Reuters, 28 November 2007)
A global satellite system should come on line next decade, potentially saving billions of dollars and thousands of lives by boosting preparedness for natural disasters, a top scientist said on Wednesday.

Planetary Check-Up Starts With the Oceans
(IPS, 27 November 2007)

High-level officials began meeting in Cape Town, South Africa to see if governments have the will to create a Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO).

Ocean monitoring system 'vital to mankind'
(Telegraph, 25 November 2007)
A monitoring system for the world's oceans is vital for the future of mankind, according to an international group of scientists.