Part I highlighted a range of environmental issues and challenges which face our ‘planet under pressure’ in the 21st century, including those arising from climate change and expected increase in human population.
This section highlights how Earth observation satellite programmes support both the information needs of the main Earth System challenges and more immediate needs for information in the social, economic, and environmental domains.
Within the GEOSS Implementation Plan, nine topics are identified where clear societal benefits could be derived from a coordinated global observation system:
The potential role for Earth observations from satellites in each of these areas is presented here in Part II. In each case, the issues affecting society and the anticipated future consequences are discussed. (Note that ecosystems and biodiversity are addressed together in a single case study.) The need for information and the role of Earth observation satellites is explained, including an indication of future plans.
- reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-induced disasters;
- understanding environmental factors affecting human health and well being;
- improving management of energy resources;
- understanding, assessing, predicting, mitigating, and adapting to climate variability and change;
- improving water resource management through better understanding of the water cycle;
- improving weather information, forecasting,and warning;
- improving the management and protection of terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems;
- supporting sustainable agriculture and combating desertification;
- understanding, monitoring, and conserving biodiversity.