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Earth Observations: The View from Scripps. Charles F. Kennel Director Scripps Institution of Oceanography University of California, San Diego January 2005. Humans have transformed the earth in the last 50 years. City Lights from Space.

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Earth observations the view from scripps l.jpg

Earth Observations:The View from Scripps

Charles F. Kennel


Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

January 2005

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Humans have transformed the earth

in the last 50 years

City Lights from Space

Water, ozone, global air pollution, climate change, ecosystems

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Earth System Science

  • In addition to dealing with eons past, earth science has a new focus on the geological here and now- predict the next hundred years.

  • We are creating an interdisciplinary panorama of the earth as it is today and as it will be tomorrow.

  • We are taking into account the human activities that influence earth’s systems

  • Earth system science can now make useful forecasts in fields beyond weather

  • The entire enterprise requires an earth observing system of global scale

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Global Earth Observing System

  • Human Architecture

  • Multi-Sensor Networks

  • Cyber-Infrastructure

  • Decision-Support Systems

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Human Architecture:International Framework

  • Global Change Research Act of 1990

    • Calls for “global measurements, establishing worldwide observations necessary to understand the physical, chemical, and biological processes responsible for changes in the Earth system on all relevant spatial and time scales,” as well as “documentation of global change, including the development of mechanisms for recording changes that will actually occur in the Earth system over the coming decades.”

  • International Global Observing Strategy

    (OSTP, July 17, 1995)

    • “The Global Observing System would be an internationally coordinated system of mutually funded experimental and operational space-based and in situ data acquisition, archive, and distribution systems and programs for earth observations and environmental monitoring.”

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Human Architecture - 2

G-8 Summit, Evian France, June 2, 2003

“ We will focus our efforts on three areas that present great opportunities for progress: … close co-ordination of our respective global observation strategies for the next ten years; identify new observations to minimize data gaps; ...”

Declaration of the Earth Observation Summit

“We, the participants in this Earth Observation Summit held in Washington, DC, on July 31, 2003 … Affirm the need for timely, quality, long-term,global information as a basis for sound decision making.”

Ministers at theEarth Observation Summit III in Brussels, February 2005, endodrsed the 10-Year Implementation Plan.

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55 GEO members as of March 2005


New Zealand





Republic of the Congo

Republic of Korea

Russian Federation

Slovak Federation

South Africa








United Kingdom

United States


































European Commission



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African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment

Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research

Association for the Development of Environmental Information (ADIE)

Central American Commission for the Environment and Development (SICA/CCAD)

Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)


European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)

European Environmental Agency (EEA)

European Space Agency (ESA)

European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)

European Sea Level Service

Federation of Digital Broad-Band Seismograph Networks (FDSN)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)

40 NGO Participants as of March 2005

Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS)

Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS)

Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)

Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership (IGOS-P)

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)

International Association of Geodesy (IAG)

International Association of Geodesy (IAG)

International Council for Science (ICSU)

International Council on Systems Engineering

International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP)

International Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research (IGFA

)International Institute for Space Law (IISL)

International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

International Steering Committee for Global Mappingハ (ISCGM)

International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR)

Open Geospatial Consortium

Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO)

The Network of European Meteorological Services/Composite Observing System (EUMETNET/EUCOS)

United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (UNCBD)

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

United Nations Institute for Training and Research

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)

World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

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Human Architecture - Summary

  • The human architecture is developing, starting with government organizations representing producers of observing systems

  • International framework for coordination is being developed

  • Main participants are national governments supporting scientific programs

  • Limited decision-support activities to date

  • Participation of users at all levels will eventually be required

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Multi-Sensor NetworksToday

  • Remotely sensed and in situ

  • Spacecraft, aircraft, ships, moorings, floats,

  • Radars, lidars, physical, chemical and biological sensors…

  • Oceans, atmosphere, land, ice

  • Global to regional to local

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Ocean Observatory


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National Polar Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS)



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Multi-Sensor NetworksTomorrow

  • Today’s sensors and platforms require substantial infrastructure for power and communications

  • Eventually, there will be hundreds of millions of “nano-sensors on cell-phones”

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Information management and architecture


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The Internet:An Evolutionary Tale

  • Phase 1: Early Internet (1970s)

    • Big servers and small number of clients

    • Government funded and controlled

  • Phase 2: (late 1980s)

    • Distributed international network of largely scientific users

  • Phase 3: Internet today

    • Hundreds of millions of users

    • Peer-to-peer

    • No centralized control

    • Use of a few powerful standards

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Similar path for GEO?

  • Phase 1: government operated networks between major installations

  • Phase 2: distributed high-performance research network being established now

  • Phase 3: work on miniaturization of sensors and distributed (Grid) computing; evolving to massive numbers of individual nodes

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Growing Fiber Infrastructure - Future Backbone for GEO?From Shared Internet to Dedicated Lightpipes

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Beyond Indicators to Decision-Support Tools

If we connect GEO to effective decision support systems, then it will become a principal tool for achieving sustainability on a global scale.

Photo credit: Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Project

Photo credit: New York Times

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Global Observations are needed for Global and Local Decisions

GEO Societal Benefit Areas

  • Disasters

  • Health

  • Energy

  • Climate

  • Water

  • Weather

  • Ecosystems

  • Agriculture/Desertification

  • Biodiversity

Local Issues (examples)

  • Health and safety from severe natural events

  • Risk management

  • Infrastructure planning

  • Facility design, landscaping, maintenance

  • Travel and recreation

  • Emergency preparedness

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Climate variations affect energy supply and demand and therefore decisions

El Nino North Pacific Oscillation (NPO)

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Decision support examples

Fisheries Productivity:

How to manage coastal resources

Warming Waters Identified as Cause of

Marine Life Depletions off California

Offshore Hydrocarbon Exploration:

Where to invest

Illustration: Free air gravity anomaly map of the Gulf of Mexico produced using ERS data (Courtesy: Satellite Observing Systems)

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Evolving Role of the Science Community

Originating science, creating models, & developing observing technologies

Designing observing strategies and systems

Transferring designs, technologies, models, and tested systems to the public and private sectors

Partnering in the governance and management of long-term observing and decision support systems

Infusing new objectives and technologies into on-going systems

Linking new capabilities to new users

Research community is becoming more multi-disciplinary and service-oriented

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Human Architecture Needs to Evolve

  • For the full array of environmental information

    • Phase 1: Government agencies in charge

      • E.g., weather satellites, global weather models

    • Phase 2: Large sophisticated scientific and technology users engaged

      • Regional forecast centers tied to universities looking at climate as well as weather

    • Phase 3: Broad user base with information products tailored to their needs and presented in their language

      • Wide network of commercial value-added industries providing local forecasts for specific clients (frost warnings for citrus growers; snow forecasts for ski resorts; beach conditions, etc.)

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New Management Concepts

  • System of systems

  • Multi-sector consortia

  • Standards

  • Interoperability

  • Open communication

  • Evolving, adaptive

  • Education and outreach

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Center for Earth Observations and ApplicationsUCSD’s Contribution to GEOSS

Vision: to establish international leadership in education, research, technology development, observation, and information management for Earth observations.

  • Headed by SIO/John Orcutt

    UCSD may be unique in its ability to work end-to-end on all aspects of global observing.

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CEOA Mission

  • To develop, deploy, operate, and use observing platforms and sensors for the land, oceans, and atmosphere

  • To collect and integrate observational data from a global network of multidisciplinary sources

  • To develop technologies and decision-support tools that promote a balance between the natural environment and human activities

  • To participate in GEOSS

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CEOA Approach: Internal “Venture Capital” Group

Promote major interdisciplinary scientific and technical programs that cross Division, Department, and School boundaries

Substantially increase funding available for interdisciplinary programs

Assist teams in writing major proposals & providing matching funds. If necessary, assist when needed in program operation. Assist in hiring where needed.

Provide a coherent and comprehensive interface to the external community on behalf of the extensive UCSD capabilities and programs.

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The Grand Convergence

The convergence of earth science and information technology will lead to continuous awareness of earth’s systems and their interactions with human activities.

We will use continuous awareness to manage our resources and environment, and our response to disasters

Continuous awareness will promote integrated responses to emerging global environmental challenges

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As civilization becomes increasingly global and technologically sophisticated, our need for a global observing capability will grow.

We are beginning an endeavor that will evolve over the entire 21st century and endure as long as we have an advanced civilization.

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