Great potential for environmental monitoring through unconventional sources of data
Today, Rita Scharzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry, joined the opening of the 4th National Forum for remote sensing and Copernicus Together with the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Union developed Copernicus, an independent European infrastructure that provides global observation data for environmental and security challenges. Germany is the largest donor. The conference, which is taking place under the motto "Copernicus gestaltet" this year, is organised by the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU), the Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVI), the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Ms Schwarzelühr-Sutter commented: "Observing Earth through satellites holds great potential for environmental policy, for example climate stabilisation, adaptation to climate change, the protection of coastal regions and monitoring environmental and sustainability indicators. However, there is often a lack of robust infrastructure in environmental administration that prevent the best possible use of remote sensing and its methods. We call on the Federation and the Länder to jointly search for ways to enhance the daily work of its institutions with the data gathered by Copernicus."
Together with the European Space Agency (ESA) and substantial support from Germany, the European Union developed Copernicus, an independent European infrastructure that provides global observation data for environmental and security challenges. Copernicus services generate remote sensing data across Europe and the entire globe as well as measurements on the ground, in the sea and in the air. Users of Copernicus data include political decision-making bodies. The data generated by the Copernicus Earth Observation programme are freely available. The Directorate General Environment of the European Commission and the G7 environment ministers have agreed on intensive use of satellite remote sensing. The Fourth Session of the UN Environment Assembly plans to build on that in 2019.
The recently increasing numbers of highly sensitive sentinel satellites are especially valuable for environmental policy. For instance, monitoring under the German Sustainable Development Strategy and the Climate Action Plan 2050, air quality monitoring or the ability of coastal regions to react more quickly and in a more flexible way to changes in the environment would be unthinkable today without data from satellite remote sensing. And yet, it is mainly pilot and research projects that use this data. Local environmental observation can therefore not yet be replaced, but it can be supplemented and significantly enhanced.