Space and the Arctic

Last week I took part in a workshop organised by the European Space Agency, Swedish National Space Board, EUMETSAT, the European Commission and SMHI amongst others. The workshop was entitled Space and the Arctic 2009, the aim was:

"to identify the needs and challenges of working and living in the rapidly changing Arctic and explore how space-based services might help to meet those needs".

Apart from my own, obviously brilliant contribution, there were several really interesting presentations and many of the speakers raised valuable issues regarding environmental monitoring in the Arctic. Some of my highlights were:

-Tillman Mohr, former director of EUMETSAT who highlighted the strong role space agencies played in the International Polar Year. He also called for [Space] agencies to collaborate in operations and planning. As a former director of EUMETSAT (the European Meteorological Satellite organisation) he had a unique perspective on such things.

-Terry Callaghan, director of Abisko Scientific Research Station, emphasised the potential of Earth Observation for ecology and environmental monitoring but suggested cross-disciplinary cooperation could be improved. Prof. Callghan noted the need for time-series of data and the importance of archive data.

-Volker Liebig, ESA, illustrated the breadth of ESAs Earth Observation program. Furthermore, Dr Liebig explained how the Sentinel family of missions will provide unparalelled access to EO data in the future.


For anyone interested the sessions are summarised in the Plenary Session II section. Here you’ll also find the concluding statement of the workshop. This statement was essentially proposed prior to the workshop and refined during the meeting, and contains some important points.  One important issue raised was the access to data including third-party satellite imagery. The meeting called for easy data access and the exploitation of archive data. ESA in turn announced that data from the Sentinel series will be free! FINALLY. Well done ESA.


More on the Sentinel series, the future of European Earth Observation, and in my opinion, a really well designed response to EO data needs, is explained here.

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