FINALIZING PLANS FOR A GLOBAL EARTH OBSERVATION SYSTEM OF SYSTEMS
February 1, 2005 — On Feb. 16, 2005, representatives from 59 world governments, the European Commission and 33 international organizations will meet in Brussels, Belgium, for the third Earth Observation Summit to discuss and promote the development of a comprehensive Global Earth Observation System of Systems. Producing better information on the environment has become a growing priority around the world, and that is what GEOSS is all about — bringing together many thousands of Earth observation sources and datasets and creating one linked, sustainable network for the distribution of data and information products and services that will yield benefits as broad as the planet itself.
The Earth Observation Summit in Brussels is the third in a series, following the second Earth Observation Summit in Tokyo, Japan, in April 2004 and the first Earth Observation Summit in Washington, D.C., in July 2003. The combined overall goal of these summits is to improve identification and application of Earth observation strategies and research on a global level.
Third EO Summit
The U.S. delegate is also expected to present the “Strategic Plan for the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System,” the U.S. contribution to the GEOSS implementation plan recently developed by the Interagency Working Group on Earth Observations (also known as IWGEO). Like the 10-year GEOSS implementation plan, the U.S. Strategic Plan focuses around nine societal benefit areas (See section entitled "Nine Societal Benefits" below.). It also calls for the establishment of a standing Earth Observation Subcommittee under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. The subcommittee will be charged with continuing to pull together vastly expansive science and technical activities to satisfy the identified societal benefits.
U.S. strategic plan is just one of the many systems to be included in
the network we call the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, which
will be adopted by ministers at the third Earth Observation Summit in
Brussels. By linking existing Earth observing systems, GEOSS will aid
in tracking environmental changes throughout the world and provide the
science on which sound decision-making must be built," said retired
Navy Vice Adm. Conrad
C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and
atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
Back at Previous EO Summit Activities
At the first summit on July 31, 2003, 33 nations plus the European Commission adopted a declaration that signified political commitment to move toward the development of a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained Earth observation system. To further this goal at the international level, the summit participants launched the intergovernmental ad hoc Group on Earth Observations to develop a 10-year implementation plan. The group, co-chaired by the United States, the European Commission, Japan and South Africa and joined by more than 21 international organizations, began its work by organizing five subgroups (i.e., architecture, capacity building, data utilization, user requirements, and outreach and international cooperation), as well as a secretariat to support its activities. Lautenbacher serves as the U.S. co-chair for GEO. In a parallel effort at the domestic level, the Interagency Working Group on Earth Observations was formed to develop a 10-year plan for implementing the United States’ Integrated Earth Observation System. The IWGEO, co-chaired by Greg Withee (NOAA), Ghassem Asrar (NASA) and Cliff Gabriel (Office of Science Technology and Policy), has representatives from 15 member agencies and three White House offices.
Earth Observation System of Systems
Over the next decade, a global Earth Observation System of Systems will revolutionize the understanding of the Earth and how it works. With benefits as broad as the planet itself, this initiative promises to make peoples and economies around the globe healthier, safer and better equipped to manage basic daily needs. The aim is to make 21st century technology as interrelated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
Right now many thousands of individual pieces of technology are gathering Earth observations around the globe. They are demonstrating their value in estimating crop yields, monitoring water and air quality and improving airline safety. (Click on NOAA image to the right for a larger view of NOAA's Global Observing Platforms. Please credit "NOAA.")
However, while there are thousands of moored and free floating data buoys in the world’s oceans, thousands of land-based environmental stations and more than 50 environmental satellites orbiting the globe, all providing millions of data sets, most of these technologies do not yet talk to each other. Until they do — and all of the individual technology is connected as one comprehensive system of systems — there will always be blind spots and scientific uncertainty about the state of the world's air, water, land and ecosystems. Just as a doctor can't diagnose health by taking just one measurement, neither can scientists really know what's happening on the planet without taking the Earth's pulse everywhere it beats — which is all over the globe.
The challenge is to connect the scientific dots — to build a powerful system of systems that will yield the science on which sound policy and decision-making must be built.
of building a global observing architecture are enormous.
and Tsunami Warning and Detection Systems
On Jan. 14, 2005, the United States announced that a total of $37.5 million will be dedicated to tsunami-related activities over the next two years. Specifically, NOAA will deploy 32 new advanced technology DART buoys for a fully operational tsunami warning system by mid-2007. In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey will enhance its seismic monitoring and information delivery from the Global Seismic Network, a partnership with the National Science Foundation. The new system will provide the United States with nearly 100 percent detection capabilities of a U.S. coastal tsunami, allowing response within minutes. The new system will also expand monitoring capabilities throughout the entire Pacific and Caribbean basins, providing tsunami warning for regions bordering half of the world’s oceans.
The newly expanded tsunami detection and warning system will significantly contribute toward the ongoing effort to build a cohesive Earth-observing architecture and will benefit society in many ways (e.g., reducing the loss of life and property from disasters, increase understanding of the effects of environmental factors on human heal and well-being and foster the continued protection and monitoring of the world's ocean resources).
our sister agencies in the United States and our partners around world
have come a long way since the groundbreaking Earth Observation Summit
on July 31, 2003,” stated Lautenbacher as he prepared for the upcoming
Earth Observation Summit III. "But we are just getting started, and
much work lies ahead — additional data must be collected, data gaps
still have to be identified and filled, and standards and guidelines need
to be established and implemented. It is a huge task, but I am convinced
that 10 years from now, the Global Earth Observing System of Systems will
be at work for the benefit of people around the globe and the economies
they depend on."