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Global environment information system (GEIS)


Specific Objectives

Specific Objectives in 2002:

- Finalisation of tropical forest cover change reporting;
- Preparation of a Radar mosaic for Russia's forests and pilot forest mapping;
- Coordination of a global network of environmental information centres for mapping land cover types and land surfaces affected by fire globally and putting into place validation protocols.
- Estimates of global biomass burning patterns;
- Evaluation and exploitation of algorithms for derivation of biophysical parameters (fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, land cover heterogeneity, ocean colour);
- Benchmark radiation transfer models (in the optical domain) as part of the support for future algorithm developments and for support for new sensor characterisation;
- Methods, algorithms and software for statistical signal processing of remote sensing data;
- Estimates of global oceanic primary production / biomass and sea surface temperature;
- Modelling oceanic carbon budget at selected sites.
- Support the development of European EO capabilities, with reference to the Kyoto Protocol and African Monitoring for Environment and Sustainable Development (AMESD) through the Global Monitoring of Environment and Security (GMES) initiative.
Planned Deliverables

Deliverables 2002:

- Report on state of the world's humid tropical forests;
- Completed map of global land cover (GLC) and global burnt area (GBA) 2000;
- Minimum of one year's processed global data documenting fraction absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (terrestrial) and chlorophyll content
- Minimum two years data mapped documenting active fire location and date (terrestrial) sea surface temperature and primary production (marine);
- Radar mosaic for Russian forests;
- Estimation of carbon budget of central Siberian Forests;
- Radiation transfer model inter-comparison.

Specific deliverables to DGs:

Assessment reports humid tropical forest cover and rates of change jointly prepared with DG ENV E.3. Project management tools for DG DEV and AIDCO for fisheries and forest management, AMESD design input for DG DEV.

As a result of the research:

New reference data on global vegetation patterns and ocean dynamics will help reduce uncertainties in carbon sinks, provide baselines for biodiversity assessments and help in planning strategies for sustainable development. A reference centre for radiative transfer modelling in the optical domain will support the development of future advanced algorithms for analysis of data from Earth observing satellites.

Summary of 2001 Deliverables: 31/12/2001

- Algorithms for derivation of biophysical parameters and detection of burnt areas;
- Processing chains for multi-sensor data sets (microwave, optical);
- Implementation of global network of partners for land cover and burnt area mapping;
- finalisation of global land cover legend and agreement on methodology;
- New statistics on forest area and rates of change throughout the humid tropics;
- Production of 33-month time series of oceanic primary production.

Output Indicators and Impact

Publications in the refereed literature, conference proceedings and special reports. UNEP, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and WRI have requested the humid tropical forests report, the GLC and GBA 2000 products for their environmental reporting. Max Planck Institute, Sheffield Centre for Earth Observation and CNRS Toulouse requests biophysical products for their atmospheric chemistry and climate modelling. North Sea Centre and the University of British Columbia have requested oceanic primary production maps to support their ecosystem models of World Fisheries.
Algorithms will be implemented in ESA and EUMETSAT operational data processing.
Summary of the project

The project provides information on changes in the world's vegetation cover and marine primary productivity for EU policy in the areas of environment, development and external affairs. The focus is support to aid and development programmes and implementation of environmental agreements (notably the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the UN Forest Forum). This involves analysis of global Earth Observation (EO) data. Global inventory of land resources and fire scars for 2000 are being completed. Quantitative information on rates of deforestation in the humid tropics will be synthesised and presented. Maps of global fire activity will be prepared from archived satellite imagery. A RADAR mosaic will be produced for Russia's forests. New algorithms will ensure optimum exploitation of the next generation EO data and prototype global data sets documenting biophysical parameters (e.g., fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation) will be prepared for terrestrial carbon sink monitoring. Ocean colour and sea surface temperatures from EO are improving estimates of marine productivity and provide marine indicators - to improve understanding of the carbon cycle, for regional event detection and to support sustainable fishing practices. Through liaison with the space agencies / space industry and our policy colleagues in other EC services the project will contribute to the development of European Earth Observation strategies through GMES.


Environmental information is fast becoming a new global commodity. This is especially so in the context of environmental conventions, and of development process. Access to such information is needed to support, counter or corroborate policy positions. Space-borne systems provide a reliable, consistent and timely means of obtaining such information. The state of global vegetation and marine productivity are key variables in the carbon cycle and other facets of the climate system, e.g. concerning aerosols. Land use, land use change and forestry also need to be monitored in the context of carbon trading within the Kyoto Protocol. Reducing uncertainties in our knowledge of the carbon cycle call for combined studies on the role of the oceans and the land. Assessing changes in marine primary production and terrestrial ecosystem dynamics is central to our understanding of the fate of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The European Community needs to integrate the objectives of sustainable management, conservation, and protection of forest resources and regional events such as eutrophication of European waters / habitat degradation into the EC development policy. Intergovernmental as well as governmental bodies share the view that forest resources need to be conserved and managed in a sustainable way following e.g. the forest principles embodied in the UN Forest Forum. The implementation of such policies is often hampered by the lack of adequate and accepted information on forest and land resources (inventory, mapping, monitoring trends, changes and major driving factors such as forest fire).

Funding Scheme

JRC - Joint Research Centre research


Institute for Environment and Sustainability