Group on Earth Observations to convene in Russia’s St. Petersburg

Group on Earth Observations to convene in Russia’s St. Petersburg

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The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) will convene its international Plenary on 9- 10 November in St. Petersburg.
The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) will convene its international Plenary on 9-10 November in St. Petersburg.

Switzerland:  The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) will convene its international Plenary on 9- 10 November in St. Petersburg. The event was hosted by the Russian Federation, led by ROSHYDROMET and ROSCOSMOS.

The entire Earth observation community gathers once a year to assess progress and to plan future work to tackle some of the challenges of how to access space-based or in-situ atmospheric, land and ocean data to make better decisions for a changing, urbanizing and increasingly climate-conscious world.

The Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Portal has been given a major overhaul, with a new-look interface, easier search functionality and customization options. More than 200 million data resources are now available globally, and there were more than 4 million enquiries to GEOSS in 2016 alone.

GEO’s Crop Monitor, gives a global snapshot of crop conditions and is published every month through GEO’s Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM), with support from many national and regional organizations. 2016 got off to an unfortunate start in Southern Africa with a devastating drought. Countries were able to declare drought conditions in time to trigger measures to support farmers through assessments which rely on Earth observations.

GEO is aggressively supporting global efforts to monitor and achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, (UNECA), a GEO Participating Organization, is working with the African Center for Statistics to identify datasets, including Earth observations, to meet the indicators. This regional effort is important to reinforce country ownership of monitoring and achieving the SDGs.

GEO’s regional programme in the Americas, AmeriGEOSS, has announced important progress for those who struggle with internet access – there are now 50 stations transmitting Earth observation data to people and organizations who have limited internet connectivity from the southern point of Patagonia to the most northern areas of Canada.

The Arctic is among the least observed places on Earth and this year GEO’s Cryosphere Initiative joined an international effort to address the scarcity of data and knowledge about the Arctic. Eight GEO Member countries (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States), as well as indigenous organizations and observer countries came together to discuss specific challenges associated with the relative lack of observations and opportunities for increased international collaboration.

St. Petersburg, the GEO-XIII Plenary host city, is home to 5 million people – part of the 3.5 billion people across the globe who live in cities. Urban data produced through GEO have been integral to a new report, the Human Planet Atlas, which provides one of the most comprehensive views of urbanization dynamics ever presented. Detailed, measurable and globally consistent descriptions of human habitat are now possible making it easier to understand the extent to which humans have changed our world, and how that change affects humans. This first Human Planet Atlas represents a body of knowledge derived from the Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL), a reference of reliable, reproducible information on human habitations, from village to mega-cities.

Peterhof Park, St. Petersburg, Russia. Credit: Resurs-P data (2015) Roscosmos
Peterhof Park, St. Petersburg, Russia. Credit: Resurs-P data (2015) Roscosmos

Details on events during GEO Week:  https://earthobservations.org/geo13.php. All events take place at the Park Inn by Raddison, Pribaltiyskaya, St. Petersburg

Highlights include:

  • Monday 7 – Tuesday 8 November Side Events on all GEO’s communities including the environment, disasters, land cover and more:
    • 7 November, all day, side event on open data policies
    • 7 November, afternoon, side event on air quality and health
    • 8 November, all day, side event on the SDGs
    • 8 November, morning, side event on citizen science
  • Tuesday 8 – Thursday 10 November, GEO-XIII Exhibition
  • Wednesday 9 November, 10am, GEO-XIII Exhibition official opening

Journalists attending GEO events are encouraged to register in advance.

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is comprised of 103 Member States, including the European Commission, and 103 Participating Organizations. Established in 2005, GEO strives to improve the world’s observation systems and provide policy makers and scientists with accurate and useful data that can be used to make informed decisions on issues affecting the planet.  GEO’s primary focus is to develop a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to enhance the ability of end-users to discover and access Earth observation data and convert it to useable and useful information. GEO is headquartered in Switzerland. For more information, visit www.earthobservations.org