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Soon a disproportionate amount of time is spent in the pursuit of these change practices instead of producing the end product itself. The impact of excessive revisions in research contracts conducted by universities has much the same effect. In this case, substantial effort is devoted by academic researchers to the preparation of proposals for research support. When the presumed funds to support the work are subsequently diverted to other objectives, the productive talents of some of the nation's most able people are largely wasted.

The U. Global Change Research Program USGCRP was created in response to public concerns regarding environmental change and stemmed from earlier national and international programs e. An early characteristic of the USGCRP was the tendency to include under its umbrella nearly all preexisting environmental programs within federal agencies, whether or not they were part of an organized, coherent program of research on global change. In the context of this report, climate change refers to changes on time scales from a few years to a few centuries in the climate.

In spite of its title, agency budget pressures and prioritization decisions have greatly reduced the scope of the USGCRP from global change to the narrower global climate change. Some areas of scientific research and remote sensing that have near-term scientific importance or serve practical applications have been reduced in scope or eliminated e. When the current program was formulated, it was assumed that Landsat-like data would continue to be available.

Now, however, it is the view of the CES that the combination of the loss of Landsat-6 and the cancellation of other advanced electrooptical sensors leaves a substantial gap in medium- to high-spectral-resolution and high-spatial-resolution measurements needed to meet the USGCRP objectives.

Advances in Earth Observation of Global Change

Global surveys of vegetation class, land use, and surface minerals, as well as contributions to cartography, are not included in current plans. As structured, the USGCRP will also not generate some other data of substantial value to the earth applications community, such as systematic regional and global topography, digital elevation maps, and magnetic and gravitational fields. Alterations in vegetation class and extent are obviously changes in surface properties of great human interest; they are also changes that can be monitored from space.

Such changes may develop because of climate change. The reduction in scope of the USGCRP to focus more narrowly on global climate change reduces the capability to make these measurements. At the same time that reductions in scope have been directed, policymakers are asking for nearer-term answers upon which to base decisions—in effect, re-expanding the scope of the effort.

The previously mentioned reductions now make the United States increasingly reliant on other nations for spacecraft, sensor systems, and data in some areas in which the United States was preeminent, notably high-spectral- and high-spatial-resolution electrooptical and microwave measurements. The CES enthusiastically endorses the concept of sharing the burden for the conduct of earth observations among as many nations as possible.

However, the diminution of the ability of the United States to obtain required data from its own systems places a greater importance on the reliability of international agreements than in the past. In the past, these agreements have been difficult to reach and have not always resulted in ready data availability. This difficulty has been present in even such commonplace data as coarse-spatial-resolution meteorological measurements. As a result, responsibility for the USGCRP involves more than a dozen agencies, their respective budget examiners, and several dozen congressional committees, making efficient management improbable, or at least quite difficult.


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USGCRP oversight is carded out by an interagency committee, which has provided useful coordination, but which also has little authority, offers inadequate means to review progress against milestones, and must rely on its powers of persuasion to conduct normal program management functions. For example, reallocation or redirection of program elements in an efficient manner in response to changing needs or new discoveries is hampered by the number of agencies and budget processes involved.

Advancing the operational utility of civil earth observations has not been given national priority in the current efforts. In its stead, the U. New sensors are being pursued under the EOS program, but—despite some NOAA participation—with relatively little consideration for their affordability or practicality for transfer to operational use.

Under current NOAA planning, only small or incremental improvement of operational capabilities will take place over the next decade or even longer, even though the nations of the world plan to launch some 50 new observation satellites in that period BNSC, Thus, a period of some 27 years has elapsed between generations during a time of great technological advancement.


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Of particular significance, no plans yet exist for the incorporation in the operational U. Landsat-like data are a necessary element in global change research and in operational applications.

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In spite of that, the future availability of these data is not ensured as of early The current U. The future availability of these data to U. Similarly, as noted in the preceding section on the USGCRP with regard to research, no plans exist for the exploitation of space-based imagery in the preparation of topographic maps, digital elevation models, global vegetation inventories, mineral and soil surveys, or updated standard maps. Such products are among the greatest benefits to be derived from the nation's investment in its space program. The problems associated with space applications in general, and with earth observations in particular, are of long standing.

The civil space program of the United States is a study in contrasts.

FireBIRD monitors forest fires in California

The shuttle program is now operational; funding for the space station has been included in the President's FY budget. In the field of science, the NASA program in physics and astronomy for example is strong and has received increases in funding. There is, however, one major sector of the space program that is in disarray: the operational remote sensing of the earth. The land remote sensing effort is endangered as the attempt to turn the program over to the private sector threatens to flounder because of limitations placed on federal support. Information from operational earth remote sensing systems is needed for a host of practical purposes, such as weather forecasting, ocean transportation and utilization, land management, and mineral exploration.

This information is also required to improve understanding of various earth sciences—meteorology, oceanography, geology, and geophysics. Not only practical applications of substantial economic importance but also the advance of earth-oriented science are inhibited by the inadequacies of this sector of the space program. Why should such a practical program be floundering?

Advances in Earth Observation of Global Change | SpringerLink

Why is it that earth-oriented activities are being outdistanced by other, less applicable sectors of the space program? It is true that the surge into space is largely an investment in the future, but one might assume that we as a nation would make every effort to reap the benefits of our investment as soon as it became possible to do so. This is not being done. Indeed, the situation is even less logical than has already been stated: In at least one critical area of earth remote sensing, the United States is marking time as other countries move toward world leadership and prepare to reap the benefits of our investment —using technology developed in this country.

We do not condone or accept as appropriate the disarray in operational earth remote sensing. The CES believes that it is desirable for the nation's civil earth observations program to include both long-term elements and other elements that permit quick-response, rapid-turnaround measurements. Satellites of all sizes are likely to be required, with each filling a particular niche.

Smaller satellites can play a scientifically important role in the MTPE and can also play important operational roles. The CES notes, however, that the choice of satellite size should be made by applying well-understood systems engineering procedures to the task to be accomplished. Northern higher latitude environments are undergoing marked climate change with associated shifts in the dynamics of phenological and cryological phenomena.

Remote Sensing has enabled the study and modelling of many phenomena, including natural hazards, over global, regional and local spatial scales as well as over long temporal scales.

However, increasing levels of Earth Observation EO data collection, with new sensing possibilities, require, in order to meet new environmental challenges and application possibilities, a matching pace in the development of algorithms for processing and analysing these data. Whilst Nordic countries have long been active in developing sensors for EO, algorithms for data processing, and data applications, a platform for bringing together Nordic work in Remote Sensing has been lacking for several years.

The relevance of a platform has even greater timeliness now, with nanosatellites built by several Nordic Universities operational in Space for EO, and new possibilities of developing sensors for better understanding of the changing Nordic environment. Submitted manuscripts will be peer-reviewed according to the guidelines, available on the website, of the journal. Please note that articles will be published separately, in different volumes, after they are accepted, and will be grouped together online as a Special Issue.

source Satellite Earth Observing systems provide a unique tool to monitor those changes. While the range of applications and innovative techniques is constantly increasing, this book provides a summary of key case studies where satellite data offer critical information to understand the causes and effects of those environmental changes, minimizing their negative impacts.

This book will be of interest to researchers and practitioners in the field of remote sensing, geographical information, meteorology and environmental sciences. Also scientists and graduate up to post-graduate level students in environmental science will find valuable information in this book.