Envisat Symposium day one: Steady symphony of Europe's largest satellite

ites will eventually succeed Envisat.

Achache concluded by stressing his view that even as individual missions multiply, easily available data and inter-operable data standards will be required to allow Earth Observation applications to grow to their full potential: "We will need open and operable systems a principle I have called Oxygen". He quoted the rapid user expansion arising from full and free access to GPS and internet technology as past parallels.

Envisat in action

Following the Symposium's opening, a quintet of researchers gave an overview of Envisat results to date. Helmut Rott of the University of Innsbrck in Austria began with land applications, including AATSR detection of soil moisture changes across south west Germany, combined radar and MERIS identification of deforestation and pollution-induced vegetation damage in Siberian Russia.

Radar and optical Envisat data have also been applied to Austria to create snow maps across mountainous regions to predict hydrological run-off with a high level of accuracy. And the same combination of instruments along with hot-spot-detecting AATSR - has been trained on forest fires in Borneo and California.

Jean-Louis Fellous of the French Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (known by its French initials as IFREMER) explained how Envisat data have improved our knowledge of the ever-shifting face of our oceans. Envisat's Radar Altimeter-2 (RA-2), used in association with other space-based altimeters has provided high-resolution maps of ocean currents and eddies, and provided solid evidence of a steady sea level rise averaging 0.3 millimetres a year.

Simultaneously AATSR has been steadily taking the temperature of the global sea surface, to a maximum accuracy of 0.1K while MERIS has mapped ocean colour, measuring chlorophyll content that enable scientists to deduce phytoplankton numbers, a vital variable in modelling the extent of climate change.


Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
European Space Agency

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