UT helps to create a free global web portal of environmental information
The beginning of November saw an annual meeting of Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in Beijing. Estonia was represented by Tiit Kutser, the lead researcher of Estonian Marine Institute of University of Tartu. GEO is currently creating a web portal for global environmental data that is to be freely accessible for all nations.
Melding different databanks into a single global system makes the work of scientists significantly easier, allowing them to easily find data that would otherwise require time-consuming work with different national databanks or that was previously completely inaccessible, said Tiit Kutser. „The web portal will be presenting up to date, high-quality and historical environmental data, helping governments and international organizations to make more informed choices in issues concerning earth’s ecology and human health,“ Kutser explained.
The greatest breakthrough GEO has achieved during its first five years is the attitude change of nations and organizations. Only recently, governments were keeping their environmental data to themselves and most of the space agencies collected fees for using their satellite images. According to Tiit Kutser, several nations have started sharing the data gathered from their satellite programs, a trend started by USA. The largest „freed“ databank so far is the 40 years old archive from Landsat satellite series, which allows analysis of many long term processes, such as the change of flora during the 40 years.
“European space agency and European Commission have made their own efforts/gesture and made data from the upcoming Sentinel satellite series freely accessible. Data from Estonian monitoring program is already free and public, but there is a plan to meld our databank into GEO web portal, to make global use of this information even easier,“ Kutser added.
GEO (Group on Earth Observations) is an intergovernmental organization and it’s goal is to carry out multimodal, coordinated and constant monitoring from satellites, aircraft and aviation equipment, ships and monitoring systems in water, air and on the ground – in order to better predict Earths behaviour as a system. GEO areas of activity include understanding the ecological factors affecting human health and comfort, efficient use of energy resources, climate changes, preserving biological diversity etc. Estonia is a member of GEO since 2008.
Additional info: Tiit Kutser, Lead researcher at the Department of Remote Sensing and Marine Optics, Estonian Marine Institute (LOMI), University of Tartu
phone +372671 8947, tiit.kutser [ät] ut.ee