Environment and climate: The space perspective - Simonetta Cheli


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Press Conference, Rome 21 Dec 2012.
Simonetta Cheli, Head of Coordination Office, Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes, ESA, ESRIN

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Environment and climate: The space perspective - Simonetta Cheli

  1. 1. Environment and climate: The space perspective Dr. Simonetta Cheli Head, Coordination Office of the ESA Earth Observation Programmes 21 December 2011, Rome
  2. 2. Point of departure: Earth from space • Called a “fragile oasis”, Earth is our home with finite resources • Powered by the Sun • Newly “discovered” with the advent of the space age
  3. 3. The human race: ever growing • According to the UN Population Reference Bureau, the world’s population is reaching the new milestone of 7 Billion in October 2011 • The speed of growth is alarming, with estimated 9 Billion by mid-century
  4. 4. The human footprint: not just a metaphor Credit: University of Heidelberg Example 1: The global distribution of NO2 as an indicator of atmospheric pollution. Data are based on observations from Envisat. Correlation with human settlements and (industrial) activity.
  5. 5. The human footprint: not just a metaphor Example 2: Artificial surface patterns as result of human land use for agriculture / food production (Phoenix, Arizona; and Imperial Valley [USA]).
  6. 6. The human footprint: not just a metaphor Credit: University of Sheffield Example 3: Traces of human activity in hostile environments – soil irrigation in the southern Sahara as seen by the Envisat mission (detail).
  7. 7. Pollution over mega-cities Smog over south-east China, © NASA Earth Observatory
  8. 8. The vantage of outer space Credit: University of Sheffield The advantage of satellite observations from space:  Perpetual observations  Global coverage  Short revisit cycles and long-term data sets  “Accessibility” through over-flight  Newest measurement technologies  International cooperation
  9. 9. In orbit: ESA Earth Observation missions  17 missions in space by 2015  More than 4000 projects worldwide use their data – increasing further  More than 100 Terabyte of data per year  30 partner missions
  10. 10. The discovery of the “System Earth”: Earth systems science Earth system science seeks to integrate various fields of scientific study to understand the Earth as a system. It considers interaction between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere (geosphere), biosphere, and cryosphere.
  11. 11. The IPCC Report 2007 – a 3.4°C increase in annual temperature (up to 3.7°C in spring), and – a 23% decrease in winter rainfall, and – a 13% decrease in spring rainfall  Precipitation: decrease in arid regions and increase in wet areas  Storms: significantly stronger  Sea level rise: up to 48cm until 2100 Global temperature increase between + 2.4 and 6.4 degrees until 2100 Point of departure: A changing environment Surface air temperature anomalies for southern Africa until 2100  Africa: Predictions for the southern African region (averaged):
  12. 12. GMES: Global Monitoring for Environment & Security  Flagship programme of EU and ESA: European independency and contribution to GEO  The Sentinel-Satellites and partner missions will provide long-term space observations  7 satellite launches between 2013 and 2015  Services for a multitude of users and benefits for all European citizens & beyond  EC discusses extension of GMES Africa  Open and Free Data Policy planned
  13. 13.  The work of science communities and ESA for 11 selected ECVs has started  ESA is coordinating the programme at international level, e.g. with EUMETSAT and EU  The Climate Change Summits in Copenhagen & Cancun have underlined the importance of this activity The “ESA Climate Change Initiative” Surface temperature changes based on natural forcings only (blue) or natural and anthropogenic forcings (pink); observation average (black) Source: IPCC 2007
  14. 14.  UN Development Goals  Water: the “ blue gold” of the 21st century  The geopolitics of climate change: stability, security of supply  Access to and use of energy  From global warming to global warring Climate Change: a threat to security – demanding better preparedness
  15. 15. Climate Change and Security: an inherent link Climate variations influence:  agricultural productivity  resource availability  health risk  migration patterns and ultimately  conflict level of societies * ‘2500 Years of European Climate Variability and Human Susceptibility’, Büntgen et al., Science, 2011
  16. 16. A recent study in NATURE (Hsiang et al., Aug. 2011) found that in El Nino years, twice as many civil wars occurred on global level, suggesting that there is a link between climatic developments and societal stress levels. Civil conflicts and climate: an association
  17. 17. Example: The Dafur Crisis – assistance from orbit • Satellite maps and geographical information products directly for users in the field • Use of ten sensors from nine spacecraft • Envisat's ASAR identifies roads, shows land relief and is sensitive to the presence of water • Maps are produced within 10-12 hours of satellite image acquisition • Information is supplied to NGOs to intervene more effectively
  18. 18. Conclusions  Spaceship Earth: not only a metaphor  Climate and environmental variations have a fundamental impact on how we live, behave and plan our actions  Worsening conditions lead to stress on societies  Space technologies help to assess the state of the planet and understand its functioning  Space applications help the sustainable management of food and water resources and to release stress on societies
  19. 19. ESRIN – the ESA centre in Italy Some 30.000 visitors per year and a wealth of international scientific conferences  642 staff and contractors are working on site – Earth Observation – Vega Department – Corporate Informatics – Telecommunications – Contracts, Site, Personnel, Communication – ASI Science Data Centre – ESA Security Office