Access to crucial satellite environmental data assured through Geoscience Australia-EUMETSAT cooperation

A technical operating arrangement between Geoscience Australia and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) will enhance access to environmental Earth observation data for Australia and the South East Asia - South Pacific region.

Thursday, 03 November 2016

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The region has some of the fastest economic growth in the world but also faces some big challenges, including significant exposure to natural hazards and the impacts of climate change.

The arrangement, signed in Brisbane today, supports the exchange of data related to the EU’s flagship Earth observation Copernicus programme. 

Copernicus is a European system for monitoring the Earth, collecting data from multiple sources such as Earth observations from satellites and in-situ sensors including ground stations, airborne and sea-borne sensors.  It processes the data and provides users with reliable and up-to-date information through Copernicus services related to environmental and security issues, for example, the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service.

EUMETSAT operates and disseminates data from the Jason-3 ocean-monitoring satellite for Copernicus and operates the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites, and disseminates the related marine data stream. It provides an integrated data stream incorporating data from these and its own meteorological satellite missions.

EUMETSAT will also operate the Copernicus Sentinel-4, -5 and -6 missions.

Head of Geoscience Australia’s Earth and Marine Observation Branch, Dr Adam Lewis, said: “With our partners at the National Computational Infrastructure, we at Geoscience Australia are very pleased to be able to support access to comprehensive satellite data from the Sentinel missions in our region.  Our data hub, which we are building with our partners CSIRO and a number of Australian state governments, will provide access to data from both ESA and EUMETSAT-operated missions in one place.”

“We are targeting the community of users who require access to near-real-time data.”

Sentinel-3 data will be used by Australian agencies to improve the performance of ocean models and sea surface temperature analyses in the Australian region, while assimilation of Sentinel-1 soil moisture observations into Numerical Weather Prediction systems are expected to improve the modelled soil moisture, which will have anticipated benefits for drought monitoring, flood forecasting and agriculture.

EUMETSAT’s Head of Strategy and International Relations Paul Counet welcomed the signing of the Technical Operating Arrangement with Geoscience Australia, which builds on the agreement signed between Australia and the EU less than one year ago on November 4, 2015.

“This arrangement we signed today is very timely as marine data from Sentinel-3A, which was launched in February, has just come on-stream, after the in-orbit testing and validation process of the satellite and its instruments,” Counet said.

“We have already tested the infrastructure needed to bring the data to Australia, and it works, and we are starting to release the first Sentinel-3 products. These will be provided to Geoscience Australia via the internet through our EUMETCast Terrestrial system.

“We are targeting the community of users who require access to near-real-time data.”

Counet said EUMETSAT was delighted to be collaborating with Geoscience Australia to make the data more widely available. The potential applications of the data were many and varied, including for environmental monitoring and protection, disaster risk reduction and for myriad potentials uses by organisations, businesses and individuals involved in the blue economy.

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