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Building Capacity for a Centre of Excellence for EO-based monitoring of Natural Disasters

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Earth observation upgrade for the Balkans

Researchers have successfully established a centre of excellence for Earth observation (EO) to improve weather models in the Balkans region.

Digital Economy
Climate Change and Environment

EO involves the downloading, processing and analysis of satellite images of Earth, which may consist of visible light and/or non-visible wavelengths. These techniques are useful for weather forecasting, disaster management and monitoring of natural resources. The EU-funded BEYOND (Building capacity for a centre of excellence for EO-based monitoring of natural disasters) initiative aimed to provide such capacity. The venture was launched to establish a centre of excellence focused on monitoring natural disasters in the Balkans region. Located in Athens, Greece, the centre builds on existing regional cooperation and aims to establish data analysis routines for numerous satellite networks and to upgrade the equipment. BEYOND created a database to store and distribute data to researchers and support cutting-edge research. BEYOND upgraded the equipment, particularly the antenna, and the centre developed the ground segment, enabling data acquisition from numerous kinds of satellites. The researchers obtained several kinds of geographic and image processing software needed to process synthetic aperture radar. The project team developed a ground-based prototype light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to monitor atmospheric episodes and support atmospheric models proposed by BEYOND. They developed the LIDAR to optimise the smoke dispersion model and validate the desert dust forecasts and volcanic ash monitoring models. The centre of excellence improved its service provision in three areas; the meteorological and/or human hazards monitoring received an award in 2014. Other services cover flood modelling capability and improved ability to forecast geophysical hazards such as earthquakes and volcanic activity. Thanks to project efforts, improved EO capabilities will support regional ability to forecast natural and human-caused environmental threats and to improve response to disasters.

Keywords

Earth observation, Balkans, BEYOND, natural disasters, synthetic aperture radar

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