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Scientists to showcase value of Earth observation data at EGU

21 Apr 2023

European Geosciences Union
European Geosciences Union

Remote sensing scientists are getting ready to present innovative and exciting applications of satellite data at the European Geosciences Union general assembly.

Taking place from 24 to 28 April in Vienna, Austria, EGU is set to bring together thousands of experts from a wide range of disciplines to discuss the latest advances in Earth, planetary and space science.

As part of its contributions to the event, ESA is participating in several disciplinary sessions in which researchers will demonstrate how science enabled by the agency’s Earth observation activities is improving understanding of the planet and its processes.

Discover more about the JATAC campaign

On Wednesday, ESA is leading a session focused on the Joint Aeolus Tropical Atlantic Campaign.

The JATAC Campaign
The JATAC Campaign

Part of ESA’s Earth Explorers programme, the Aeolus wind-monitoring mission has continued to deliver impressive results since its launch in 2018, and scientists expect data from the mission to greatly improve projections of weather in the tropics in the future.

Predictability of these weather patterns is heavily influenced by Saharan dust that is blown over the Atlantic Ocean, impacting tropical convection and the formation of clouds and precipitation.

Completed over Cabo Verde and the US Virgin Islands, JATAC uses a range of ground-based and airborne sensors to investigate the interactions of wind, dust and clouds, advancing understanding of the transport of particles and life cycles of tropical convective systems.

As well as enabling the calibration and validation of Aeolus data, the campaign will support preparations for future Earth observing missions.

The JATAC session will include presentations from scientists who are working on the campaign, as well as an update from ESA’s Aeolus mission manager, Tommaso Parrinello, on the status of the wind-studying satellite.

Soil moisture in focus

On Friday, scientists will present on the use of microwave remote sensing to improve understanding of soil moisture.

ESA's SMOS Mission
ESA's SMOS Mission

Earth observing satellites are making vital contributions to this area of research, delivering information that is used to monitor the climate and weather patterns, Earth’s water cycle, the growth of crops, and much more.

These missions include ESA’s SMOS satellite, which is part of the agency’s Earth Explorers programme, as well as many other European and international missions, such as Copernicus Sentinel-1 and NASA’s SMAP satellite.

Presentations in the soil moisture session will cover a wide range of topics, with scientists’ efforts to ensure the quality of the growing number of soil moisture products being an important area of focus.

An impressive milestone for Swarm

As part of the Earth Magnetism & Rock Physics element of EGU, a session is being held to celebrate 10 years since the launch of ESA’s mission to unravel one of the most mysterious aspects of the planet, its magnetic field.

Swarm – ESA’s fourth Earth Explorer and the agency’s first space-borne constellation designed to observe Earth – consists of a trio of identical satellites that was lofted into orbit in November 2013.

The session – which is co-convened by ESA’s Swarm mission manager, Anja Stromme – will illustrate the new insight the mission is delivering into the planet’s processes, from the changing characteristics of Earth’s core to the movement of tectonic plates, and much more.

The session is also it set to explore synergies with other Earth observation missions and future objectives for the mission.

Enabling innovative science

Throughout EGU, many other disciplinary sessions will take place focused on investigating a whole host of planetary processes, and science supported by ESA’s Earth observation activities will be highlighted in dozens of presentations.

ESA’s ice-monitoring CryoSat mission, for instance, is enabling researchers to better understand how the icy parts of the planet are responding to climate change.

In one project, which will be presented in the “Rapid Changes in Sea Ice” session, CryoSat data are being used in combination with ESA Heritage Missions data to develop a decades-long picture of ice thickness and volume in both polar oceans.

This is just one example of how ESA Heritage Missions – such as Envisat and ERS – are helping to create long-term datasets and many other such projects will be demonstrated during EGU disciplinary sessions.

Earth Observation Excellence Award
Earth Observation Excellence Award

Research completed using data from satellites that are part of ESA’s Third Party Missions Programme will also be highlighted at the conference, including presentations on ICEYE data for wildfire monitoring and GHGSat data for tracking methane emissions.

Beyond the disciplinary sessions, ESA has several other contributions to the event.

The agency is leading a Town Hall on Monday evening that will focus on the vital role Earth observation has for mitigating the climate crisis, and, on Tuesday evening, a ceremony will take place to present the ESA–EGU 2023 Excellence Award to this year’s winners.



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