Minimize About Earth Watching

The Earth Watching project started at the end of 1993 during an emergency in Germany caused by serious floods that lasted for several days in the Cologne - Bonn area. We realised that during natural disasters, users and governmental authorities need data over the affected areas in very short timeframes, shorter than normal data delivery times, in order to co-ordinate rescue activities.

Thus Eurimage, in cooperation with the European Space Agency's ESRIN facility, developed the Earth Watching service to help local authorities and to promote the benefits of remote sensing data during emergencies, sending images and articles to newspapers, magazines and TV stations.

In 1999 ESA/ESRIN took over complete handling of the project.

Satellite data can quickly provide an overview of the situation, as large areas can be covered in one pass to identify affected and endangered zones.

Radar missions, like ESA's ERS-1 and ERS-2 satellites, are excellent tools for monitoring areas during hazards like floods and oil spills: thanks to its all-weather capability it can acquire data independently of light or cloud coverage conditions.

On the other hand, optical missions, like NOAA's AVHRR, Landsat 5 and 7 and NASA's MODIS instrument are an excellent means of monitoring fires that particularly affect Mediterranean Basin countries during summer. The AVHRR satellites and the MODIS sensor, with their wide swath and high pass repetition, can be used for detecting medium - large fires while Landsat 5 and 7 can provide more precise details of already active fires and burned areas.

The Earth Watching project aim was not only to show natural disasters, but also to promote various satellite remote sensing applications through images and articles. Some examples are shown in the change detection part of this website.