EUMETSAT and the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters

(PresseBox) ( Darmstadt, )
Following its signing of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters on 5 July 2012, EUMETSAT is now a formal participant in the Charter, which was initiated in 1999 following the UNISPACE III Conference in Vienna by the European and French space agencies (ESA and CNES).

The Charter promotes cooperation between space agencies and space system operators in the use of space facilities as a contribution to the management of crises arising from natural or technological disasters.

The participation of meteorological space agencies was anticipated when the Charter was agreed as its preamble recognises "the potential applications of space technologies in the management of disasters caused by natural phenomena or technological accidents, and in particular Earth observation, telecommunications, meteorology and positioning technologies".

The Vision of the forefathers of the Charter was recently confirmed in the final declaration of the Rio+20 Conference, "The World We Want". This document recognizes the importance of space-technology-based data for sustainable development policymaking and reaffirms the necessity to promote, enhance and support more sustainable development activities to enhance resilience to climate change and natural disasters.

The main role for EUMETSAT in the Charter will be to secure access to EUMETSAT and other meteorological data for Charter members and beneficiaries and to redistribute Charter products via the GEONETCast data dissemination system.

Initially, the EUMETSAT data will be made available to the Charter through the existing GEONETCast stations primarily operated by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in the individual countries. This will support the involvement of the NMHSs within the respective countries in disaster recovery and risk reduction management.

In addition, as one of the founding agencies of GEONETCast, another planned EUMETSAT contribution to the Charter will be to re-disseminate relevant Charter data via GEONETCast, making use of already existing infrastructure and processes at EUMETSAT.

Given that other GEONETCast operational partners, such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are already part of the Charter, EUMETSAT participation in the Charter will demonstrate the contribution of meteorological satellite agencies in support of disaster management through GEONETCast.

The current membership of the Charter consists of the European Space Agency (ESA), Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) the French space agency, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the National Space Research Institute of Brazil (INPE), NOAA, Argentina's Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), DMC International Imaging (BNSC-DMC) and China National Space Administration (CNSA).

About GEONETCast

GEONETCast is a global network of satellite-based data dissemination systems providing environmental data to a world-wide user community. The current partners within the GEONETCast initiative include the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), NOAA, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and EUMETSAT, as well as many prospective data provider partners.

GEONETCast is a milestone in the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) that is being coordinated by the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO), and is designed to put a vast range of essential environmental data at the fingertips of users around the globe. This user-driven, user-friendly and low-cost information dissemination service aims to provide global information as a basis for sound decision-making in a number of critical areas, including public health, energy, agriculture, weather, water, climate, natural disasters and ecosystems. Accessing and sharing such a range of vital data will yield societal benefits through improved human health and well-being; environment management, and economic growth.

Within the existing framework, GEONETCast is already partially realising this goal with environmental data exchange and data delivery available in Europe, Africa and the Americas. An additional data exchange is now being established covering the Asia Pacific region.

The following products and services are being made available to the GEONETCast user community:

- Meteosat image data
- GOES East and West image data
- FY-2 image data
- Land and Ocean Sea Ice Satellite Application Facility (SAF) products
- EUMETSAT meteorological products
- NOAA-NESDIS meteorological products
- NOAA-NESDIS Ocean colour and sea surface temperature products
- VEGETATION products from VITO
- MODIS Ocean colour products
- In-situ and observational data
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