Global Environmental Monitoring (GEM)
Sponsor: European Commission
Implementing Agency: Space Applications Institute, Joint Research Center, Ispra, Italy
The Planet’s surface - whether marine or terrestrial - plays a critical role in the climate system by influencing the cycles of energy, water, carbon and other key biogeochemical components. The terrestrial and marine ecosystems also provide a large range of services (such as provision of food, fuel and fibre) on which our daily lives depend. The Global Environment Monitoring Unit is part of the Institute for Environment and Sustainability at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre. It delivers products and services, derived from the analysis of satellite remote sensing data and numerical modeling, to directly support policies in the fields of Space, Environment and Sustainability, Climate Change and Development Aid.
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Global Monitoring in Support of Environment and Security (GMES)
Sponsor: The European Commission
Implementing Agency: Space Applications Institute, Joint Research Center, Ispra, Italy
Partners: European space agencies
GMES is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Space Agency , designed to establish a European capacity for the provision and use of operational information for Global Monitoring of Environment and Security.
In 2008 the foundations and the structuring elements of the European Capacity for Global Monitoring of Environment and Security should be in place and operating. This Capacity is seen to be composed of three modules, which together constitute the functional GMES "system":
1. the production and dissemination of information in support of EU policies for Environment and Security
2. the mechanisms needed to ensure a permanent dialogue between all stakeholders and in particular between providers and users
3. the legal, financial, organizational 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, thus 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. It will be achieved by developing compatibility between the existing elements, establishing cooperation between the organizations and filling the gaps where necessary.
Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD)
Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) members and affiliates
UN Food and Agriculture Organization
Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations Environment
Program (UNEP), Terrestrial Observing Panel for Climate (TOPC),
Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Canadian Forest Service (CFS),
Japans National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES),
US Forest Service (USFS), Michigan State University, the University
of Maryland, the University of New Hampshire, and the University
sustainable development of forests has emerged as one of the most
difficult, serious, and pressing environmental issues of our time.
Human-induced changes in Earth's forests have affected natural
resource availability, biodiversity, atmospheric composition,
and climate. Satellite observations provide a unique source of
consistent information about forests over wide areas in a short
period of time. Such observations are necessary to begin understanding
the complex feedback processes between forests and climate change.
They also provide resource managers with the information they
need to assess the current state of the forests, weigh the requirements
of different uses by multiple stakeholders, and manage forestland
resources in a sustainable manner. It is important to recognize,
however, that the information provided from satellites complements,
but does not replace, the detailed information obtained form aerial
photography and ground-based measurements.
Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) is a
coordinated international effort working to provide ongoing space-based
and in-situ observations of forests and other vegetation cover,
for the sustainable management of terrestrial resources and to
obtain an accurate, reliable, quantitative understanding of the
terrestrial carbon budget. Originally developed as a pilot project
by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) as part
of their Integrated Global Observing Strategy, GOFC-GOLD is now
a panel of the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS).
Integrated Global Observing Strategy
Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), Food and
Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Global Climate Observing
System (GCOS), Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), Global Terrestrial
Observing System (GTOS), International Council for Science (ICSU),
International Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research
(IGFA), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC),
United nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Climate Research
Programme (WCRP), and World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) unites the major satellite
and surface based systems for global environmental observations
of the atmosphere, oceans and land. IGOS is:
- a strategic planning process,
involving a number of Partners, that links research, long-term
monitoring and operational programs as well as data
producers and users in a structure that helps determine
observation gaps and identify the resources to fill observation
- a framework for decisions
and resource allocation by individual funding agencies, providing
- governments with improved
understanding of the need for global observations through
- presentation of an overarching
view of current system capabilities and limitations
thereby helping to reduce unnecessary duplication of observations.
- focused primarily on the observing
aspects of the process of providing environmental information
for decision making.
- intended to cover all forms
of data collection concerning the physical, biological, chemical
and human environment including the associated impacts.
- based on the recognition that
data collection must be user driven, leading to results which
will increase scientific understanding and guide early warning,
policy setting and decision making for sustainable development
and environmental protection; providing opportunities for
capacity building and assisting countries to obtain maximum
benefit from the total set of observations.
IGOS is based on the simple recognition that the range of global
observations needed to understand and monitor Earth processes,
and to assess human impacts, cannot be satisfied by a single program,
agency, or country and hence that international cooperation
is necessary to provide these observations. Effective monitoring
of our planet on a global scale requires cooperation on the same
scale. Everyone involved in the provision of Earth observations
should understand the overall needs and their respective roles,
so that they can address priorities without duplication or omission.
Satellite missions and in situ networks require many years of
planning, while continuity and coherence need to be assured between
national programs. These national programs need to support larger
international frameworks, since environmental issues transcend
national boundaries and are global in nature.
complex activities require integration at many levels. Thus IGOS
aims to bring both the strategic framework and the planning processes
which are needed to coordinate remotely sensed and in situ
observations, from both research and operational programs. IGOS
provides an opportunity for governments and international organizations
to rationalize programs to achieve new levels of synergy in providing
the observations required of our Earth to ensure that we can reliably
document significant global environmental parameters and processes.
international co-ordination on environmental issues on a political
level is apparent in the various initiatives and treaties which
have been implemented over the last few decades many of
which call for systematic observations of the Earth in support
of their implementation, such as:
- Agenda 21 and the UN Commission
on Sustainable Development
- The Convention on Biological
- The UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change, including the recent Kyoto Protocol;
- The UN Convention to Combat
- The Montreal Protocol of the
Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer
- The United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
above are just a few examples of international collaborative efforts
to recognize, define, and address specific environmental problems
which pose a common threat to the countries of the world. IGOS
might be regarded as a next logical step, providing a planning
process by which organizations can collaborate to coordinate their
resources in the planning and implementation of the observing
systems required to study and monitor these common problems
including support of the associated treaties and conventions.
is a sponsor or partner in a number of the activities listed on
this list of related initiatives.
Kyoto-Inv - Services for the Kyoto Protocol Implementation
Sponsor: Data User Programme (DUP) of the European Space Agency
Secretariat: Intecs Sistemi, Italy
Partners: Agriconsulting (Italy), NEO B.V. (Netherlands), Dataspazio (Italy), Planetek Italia (Italy), University of Trento (Italy), Telespazio (Italy)
Kyoto-Inv is a project aimed to build nation-wide EO based services for supporting the actors involved in the reporting on land-use change and forestry activities under the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The project is executed in the framework of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Data User Element (DUE) to favour the establishment of a long-term relationship between the User communities and Earth Observation.
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Kyoto & Carbon Initiative
Earth Observation Research and application Center, Japan Aerospace
Kyoto & Carbon Initiative is an international collaborative
project led by JAXA Earth Observation Research Center (EORC).
It forms the continuation of JAXA's on-going JERS-1 SAR Global
Rain Forest and Global Boreal Forest Mapping project (GRFM/GBFM)
into the era of the Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS).
The Initiative also includes the Global Imager (GLI) sensor onboard
the Advanced Earth Observation Satellite II (ADEOS-II).
Initiative is set out to provide data and information support
to the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol and International efforts for a Terrestrial
Carbon Observing system, as outlined by IGOS-P. Secondary mission
drivers are other environmental treaties (Ramsar Convention on
Wetlands, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention
on Biological Diversity) to which the Initiative can be expected
to provide direct or indirect support.
Ecosystem Assessment (MA)
World Resources Institute
A consortium of conservation organizations and biodiversity-related
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is an international work
program designed to meet the needs of decision makers and the
public for scientific information concerning the consequences
of ecosystem change for human well-being and options for responding
to those changes. The MA was launched by U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan in June 2001 and it will help to meet assessment needs
of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat
Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention
on Migratory Species, as well as needs of other users in the private
sector and civil society. If the MA proves to be useful to its
stakeholders, it is anticipated that an assessment process modeled
on the MA will be repeated every 5–10 years and that ecosystem
assessments will be regularly conducted at national or sub-national
MA focuses on ecosystem services (the benefits people obtain from
ecosystems), how changes in ecosystem services have affected human
well-being, how ecosystem changes may affect people in future
decades, and response options that might be adopted at local,
national, or global scales to improve ecosystem management and
thereby contribute to human well-being and poverty alleviation.
The specific issues being addressed by the assessment have been
defined through consultation with the MA users.
Wetlands Data Gateway
Sensing and the Kyoto Protocol: A Review of Available and Future
Technology for Monitoring Treaty Compliance
International Society for Photogrametry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS)
and the University of Michigan School of Engineering
Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change contains quantified, legally binding commitments to limit
or reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels and allows carbon
emissions to be balanced by carbon sinks represented by vegetation.
The issue of using vegetation cover as an emission offset raises
a debate about the adequacy of measurement and monitoring methodologies,
and of current and planned remote sensing systems and data archives
to both assess carbon stocks/sinks at 1990 levels, and monitor
the current and future global status of those stocks. These concerns
and the potential ratification of the Protocol among participating
countries is stimulating policy debates and underscoring a need
for the exchange of information between the international legal
community and the remote sensing community.
October 20-22 1999, two working groups of the International Society
for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) joined with the
University of Michigan (Michigan, USA) to convene discussions
on how remote sensing technology could contribute to the information
requirements raised by implementation of and compliance with the
terms of the Kyoto Protocol. The meeting originated as a joint
effort between the Global Monitoring Working Group and the Radar
Applications Working Group in Commission VII of the ISPRS, co-sponsored
by the University of Michigan. The meeting was attended by representatives
from national government agencies and international organizations
and academic institutions.
of the key themes addressed were:
- Legal aspects of transnational
remote sensing in the context of the Kyoto Protocol;
- A review of current and future
remote sensing technologies that could be applied to the Kyoto
- Identification of areas where
additional research is needed in order to advance and align
remote sensing technology with the requirements and expectations
of the Protocol; and
- The bureaucratic and research
management approaches needed to align the remote sensing community
with both the science and policy communities.
Sensing Technologies for Ecosystem Management Treaties
U.S. Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific
Affairs (OES) of the U.S. State Department
Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)
of Columbia University, Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente
e dos Recursos Naturais (IBAMA), Programa para la Conservación
de la Biodiversidad y Desarrollo Sustentable de Los Bañados
del Este (PROBIDES), and the International Division of the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service
project, which was completed in 2005, focused on the utilization of satellite remote sensing
data to improve the effectiveness of ecosystem-oriented multilateral
environmental agreements (MEAs). These agreements include, among
others, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance,
the Convention on Biological Diversity, the World Heritage Convention,
and UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. These conventions and site designations
serve to protect natural resources and biodiversity of international
importance, yet they are often constrained by lack of data and
information to support implementation. The project tested
applications of remote sensing at a Ramsar and Biosphere Reserve
site in northeastern Uruguay, and in Laguna Merín, the
adjacent transboundary freshwater lake (shared by Uruguay and
Brazil) that is threatened by land use practices, agrochemical
pollution, and over-fishing. Reports and data are available from the project website.
Satellite Monitoring as a Legal Compliance Tool in the Environment Sector
UK Arts and Humanities Research Council
The Centre for Law and the Environment, University College London
In October 2005, the Centre for Law and the Environment, Faculty of Laws (UCL) won a major funded research contract from the Arts and Humanities Research Council worth £308,000. This research which will run until December 2008 is concerned with the potential for using new developments in satellite technology for monitoring and enforcing national, European Community and international laws in the environmental sector. The research will be conducted with the co-operation of the Remote Sensing Unit in the Department of Geography (UCL). The project explores the potential and significance of employing satellite monitoring data as a compliance tool, in the context of step-changes in the resolution capabilities, geographical coverage, and costs of the technology that are currently taking place. This research will draw upon national and international experience to date and assess the opportunities that may be provided to address limitations in conventional inspection and enforcement regimes.
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Carbon Initiative (TCI)
Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) of the Committee
on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)
Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), and International
Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP)
(See March 2000 IGOS Bulletin, available on-line)
accurate understanding of the global carbon cycle is central to
informed decision-making on climate change. The UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol have acknowledged
the importance of terrestrial systems as carbon sinks and sources
and provide a basis for developing emission trading credits that
involve substitution and carbon sequestration in forests and potentially
in other ecosystems.
international agreements such as the Convention on Biological
Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification also have
direct interest in carbon both the vegetative and subsoil
components. In the light of the above, at its Fourth meeting (Stockholm,
November 1999), the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS)
partners approved terrestrial carbon as a theme for which a systematic
global observation program should be developed under the leadership
of the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS). The Partners
also called for TCO to be closely linked to the IGOS Oceans theme
of which carbon is an element.
consolidate and systematize global observations for terrestrial
carbon, there is first a need to agree on the observation and
modeling requirements; to harmonize the main projects and activities
that can contribute to a global observing system; and to identify
gaps and ensure their resolution. GTOS has initiated the Terrestrial
Carbon Observation Initiative (TCO) to achieve these objectives.
scope of TCO is characterized by emphasis on the current (at the
time of observation) spatial distribution of the sources and sinks
in terrestrial components of the biosphere; long-term, global
observation; and products for seasonal, annual, interannual, and
decadal periods. Thus, it encompasses the terrestrial and associated
atmospheric parts of the carbon cycle.
TCO will focus on determining the spatial distribution and temporal
trends of terrestrial carbon sources and sinks, i.e. net primary
productivity (NPP), net ecosystem productivity (NEP), and net
biome productivity (NBP), all measured as mass of carbon per unit
area per year. The longer term vision is to establish an operational
network of frequent observations and computer models, aimed at
documenting and understanding the present state of the terrestrial
component of the global carbon cycle in order to support policy
formation at the national and intergovernmental levels.
Treaty Enforcement Services Using Earth Observation