Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Satellite Data Instrumental In Combating Desertification

Date:
October 12, 2009
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
With land degradation in dryland regions continuing to worsen, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification has agreed on scientist-recommended indicators for monitoring and assessing desertification that signatory countries must report on.

Surface soil moisture at 1 km resolution retrieved from the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) instrument on ESA’s Envisat satellite, operating in Global Mode, for the southern African Development Community Region (March 2008). These results were obtained from ESA’s SHARE project.
Credit: ESA, TU Wien

With land degradation in dryland regions continuing to worsen, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification has agreed on scientist-recommended indicators for monitoring and assessing desertification that signatory countries must report on.

Related Articles


The landmark agreement was reached after two weeks of negotiations involving hundreds of scientists and government ministers attending the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 21 September to 2 October.

Desertification, land degradation and drought deprive people of food and water and force millions to leave their homes. Desertification refers to the creation of new deserts through the degradation of drylands, which cover 40% of the world’s land surface. Land degradation, caused by over-cultivation, over-grazing, deforestation and inefficient irrigation, affects roughly 20% of Earth’s drylands.

Since dryland desertification can be remedied or even reversed by using appropriate management techniques, scientists attending the first scientific session of the COP, held from 22 to 24 September, stressed the importance of developing science-based methods for monitoring the areas most at risk to support land and water management decisions. Satellite technologies were recognised as playing an important role in achieving this objective.

ESA has been working closely with the UNCCD secretariat for nearly 10 years, developing and demonstrating innovative information services based on satellite Earth observation (EO) technologies that allow land degradation processes to be monitored over time.

Monitoring desertification, land degradation and droughts requires the continuous evaluation of a complex set of parameters and indicators, some of which can be retrieved with EO technologies and state-of-the-art geo-spatial applications. For instance, the status of land cover – one of the 11 indicators defined by COP – can be monitored from space.

In 2004, ESA launched a large pilot project called DesertWatch to develop a set of land degradation indicators based principally on land surface parameters retrieved from satellite observations. These indicators were developed with the support of Italy, Portugal and Turkey – three of the European countries mostly affected by desertification.

DesertWatch also helped these countries fulfil their UNCCD reporting requirements by combining satellite data with weather and in-situ data, numerical models and geo-information systems to create standardised geo-information products.

ESA recently extended the project so that its methodology may be adapted and put to wider use. To demonstrate its applicability, the methodology will be applied to arid and semi-arid areas in Portugal, Brazil and Mozambique.

According to the UNCCD, soil moisture is another key parameter that should be monitored, because it is an indicator of water scarcity and vegetation stress. Soil moisture data can also be used for assessing drought risk.

The ESA-backed SHARE (Soil Moisture for Hydrometeorological Applications in the Southern African Development Community Region) project has developed a pre-operational soil moisture monitoring service with the long-term goal of supplying free soil moisture information for all of Africa, at a resolution of 1 km, via the Internet. SHARE was developed under ESA’s TIGER initiative, which helps African countries to overcome water problems. DesertWatch and SHARE are funded by the Data User Element (DUE) under ESA’s EO Envelope Programme.

ESA hosted an exhibition booth and a side event at COP 9 entitled ‘Earth observations from space for the UNCCD’, where the latest DesertWatch findings and results were presented. The side event also served as a platform for demonstrating the benefits of EO technology for the UNCCD Convention.

Speaking of DesertWatch, Dr Lucio do Rosario of the Portuguese delegation said: "We recommend the UNCCD Contracting Parties to adopt these methodologies. The benefits are multiple. They improve the monitoring and assessment of land degradation, provide more efficient decision-making and facilitate the reporting to the Convention on the indicators adopted by COP 9."

In a message to COP 9, UN Secretary General Banki-Moon said: "In addressing climate change, the international community has tended, quite understandably, to focus on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. But tackling the issue in all its complexity also requires to go beyond mitigation and take into account the intrinsic linkages between desertification, land degradation and climate change."

ESA will continue to act on both fronts by helping the UNCCD community develop monitoring and assessing tools and supporting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) community with long-term trend analyses of essential climate variables.

The Tenth Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD will be hosted by the Republic of Korea in October 2011.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Satellite Data Instrumental In Combating Desertification." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091007081625.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2009, October 12). Satellite Data Instrumental In Combating Desertification. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091007081625.htm
European Space Agency. "Satellite Data Instrumental In Combating Desertification." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091007081625.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins