Earth Observation (EO) based geo-information services contribute to economic growth, social development, and environmental protection in many areas. These include food security, climate change, sustainable management of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, water management, urban development, and timely responses to emergency situations.
The benefits of Earth Observation techniques, coupled with sampled in-situ observations, include analyses of land cover type, rainfall estimation, soil moisture assessment, soil erosion, soil salinity and alkalinity analyses, desertification and drought monitoring indicators, species composition, vegetation structure, net ecosystem productivity (i.e. monitoring of agricultural crop growth conditions (NDVI, fPAR)), and biomass and carbon estimates of vegetation and soils.
Earth Observation contributes to the understanding, assessment, prediction, mitigation of, and adaptation to climate change. Large-scale synoptic, historic, and periodic observations of the terrestrial, marine, and atmospheric environment provide information about the trends in environmental factors, thus leading to the identification of climate-related risks.
Earth Observation can support information collection in relation to the management of coastal areas. This includes sea grass extent maps, coastal water quality indicators, coral reef health maps, assessments of coastal biodiversity (ecosystems, species, genes) trends, risks, and conservation status, oil spill detection and polluter identification services, vessels detection for fisheries protection, as well as the enforcement of regulations within marine protected areas.
Earth Observation contributes to all stages of the disaster risk management cycle at the local and regional level (mitigation and preparedness, early warning, response, and recovery). Collection of information concerning risks (i.e. geo-hazard and other risks such as earthquakes, landslides, volcano eruptions, floods, and droughts) can reduce exposure to natural hazards while ex-ante land-use and infrastructure mapping supports asset identification for vulnerability assessment as well as early response and recovery efforts in the event of disasters.
In addition to a wide range of agricultural applications, Earth Observation provides a global standardized eco-system classification system as a basis for the worldwide inventory, assessment, and monitoring of forest resources.
Wide-ranging, satellite-based monitoring capabilities improve the assessment, protection, and sustainable management of marine resources by providing the inventory of marine resource stocks and major ecosystems, protected areas within them, their extent, water temperature, salinity, and pH and pCO2, phytoplankton species composition, as well as their productivity.
The EO-based production of standardized mapping is one of the most effective solutions concerning the collection of digital reference data to monitor urban development. The same technique can be used for a wide range of specialized urban applications addressing key environmental issues such as urban heat islands, public health implications of urbanization (e.g. land surface temperature, air quality and air pollution), urban waste management, and a range of other issues (hydrologic modeling, managing of the land surface degradation, etc.)
Earth Observation data and information products can support decision-making for efficient management of the world's water resources. This is based on coordinated, sustained observations of the water cycle at multiple scales, including river base flow and peak flow, as well as requirements for irrigation and power plant cooling water and domestic usage.