Egypt: Scientists and representatives from US and Egyptian technical agencies met with industry and university partners in Cairo to examine the role that remote sensing (RS) and other space technologies can play in helping Egypt address multiple environmental issues, including climate change.
The workshop was hosted by the Egyptian space agency, the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS). Proposals for possible future US-Egypt collaboration include:
– With NARSS and NOAA’s National Weather Service, engage in projects involving satellite-based environmental monitoring to protect coastlines and predict weather.
– With NARSS and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, use data from Egypt’s first remote sensing satellite, EgyptSat-1, to study water balance, manage disasters and improve atmospheric models.
– With NARSS, NASA, NOAA and Chapman and Cairo universities, assess the impact of climate change by using satellite data to monitor Nile River water resources, agriculture, land use changes, desertification and soil erosion.
– With Purdue University and Egyptian universities, improve regional public health surveillance by using remote sensing to detect and fight infectious diseases and create early warning systems for mosquito-borne diseases.
The projects will be forwarded for consideration to the board of the US-Egypt Joint Science and Technology Fund, which provided initial funding for this workshop.
The meeting’s 100 participants included scientists from the Egyptian government; from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Energy; from the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development in Nairobi, Kenya; and from U.N. Habitat, the U.N. agency that promotes sustainable urbanisation and access to clean water.
“One objective of the workshop was to bring professional and technical people together to exchange ideas and help them make connections in this field,” Marsha Goldberg of the Association of American Geographers, one of the conference organizers, said.
From the workshop in Cairo came about 30 priorities for cooperation between scientists in the United States and Egypt for applications in agriculture, water, urbanisation, archaeology, space weather and small satellites. GPS technology, for example, is key to improving the efficiency of agricultural water use.
“This is known as precision agriculture, where a GPS device is attached to any part of a tractor to improve the application of fertiliser, insecticides and any other input, including water, to an agricultural field,” said Fernando Echavarria of the Space and Advanced Technology Office, State Department Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science.
“When you have a population like Egypt’s with more than 80 million people who can only cultivate less than 3 percent of the national territory along a very narrow buffer on both sides of the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta,” he said, “improving the efficiency of water use for agriculture becomes critical. And it will become increasingly important as the climate changes.”