Earth Observation and Early WarningIntroduction
Monitoring and gathering information about our planet is central to better understanding the environment around us. While earth observation has been carried out for millennia – from recording animal movements to measuring temperature, the last decades have seen it become much more technologically sophisticated, driven by three trends.
Firstly, the growth of more detailed ways of recording information, such as through satellite imaging, radar and seismic probes all provide us with much more data that can then be used to better manage natural resources, predict weather and monitor and respond to natural disasters.
As monitoring devices are now much more portable and designed to communicate readings in real-time, they provide the ability to quickly collect, measure and compare data from thousands of different sources. Using this data enables scientists to build models of how the natural world is operating, giving us unparalleled insight that can be used in vital areas such as combating climate change, increasing food production and forecasting extreme weather.
Finally, this explosion in data is being combined by a need to bring together information from across different disciplines within earth observation, with the aim of creating a more complete picture of the world around us.
The impact of research and education networks
Earth observation researchers are now looking to collaborate globally, sharing a greater number of larger files containing more detailed data with more colleagues from different disciplines and countries than ever before. Real-time monitoring and sharing of information is directly leading to more accurate and timely modelling that can provide early warning of impending natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons.
Research and education networks are central to this emerging real time, collaborative culture across earth observation, enabling the fast, secure transmission of data files that are simply too large to be transmitted cost-effectively across the commercial internet. High capacity, high speed research networks such as GÉANT enable scientists to collaborate in real time and share information even if they are many thousands of miles away.
Previously information that was stored by individual institutions was difficult to share due to the size of files, but through research networks these databases can now be accessed from around the world, opening up unprecedented opportunities for researchers to work together across disciplines. Processing this increasing amount of information, for example to create simulations or predictive models, requires colossal amounts of computing power. This can only be achieved through grid infrastructures that depend on the immense bandwidth capacity and geographical reach of research networks to link these resources together and transfer data between them.
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