The nine Societal Benefit Areas are environmental issues that the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) is aiding. GEOSS incorporates international data gathered in these nine themes in order to increase communication amongst different nations. By setting common standards and formats for data, as well as making information available in languages besides English, GEOSS is helping aid these nine Societal Benefit Areas in order to improve our world’s society and economy.

Disasters: Reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-induced disasters
Disaster losses can be reduced through observations relating to hazards such as: wild land fires; volcanic eruptions; earthquakes; tsunamis; subsidence; landslides; avalanches; ice; floods; extreme weather; and pollution events. GEOSS implementation will bring a more timely dissemination of information through better coordinated systems for monitoring, predicting, risk assessment, early warning, mitigating, and responding to hazards at local, national, regional, and global levels.

Health: Understanding environmental factors affecting human health and well-being
Health issues with Earth observation needs include: airborne, marine, and water pollution; stratospheric ozone depletion; persistent organic pollutants; nutrition; and monitoring weather-related disease vectors. GEOSS will improve the flow of appropriate environmental data and health statistics to the health community, promoting a focus on prevention and contributing to the continued improvements in human health worldwide.

Energy: Improving management of energy resources
GEOSS outcomes in the energy area will support: environmentally responsible and equitable energy management; better matching of supply and demand of energy; reduction of risks to energy infrastructure; more accurate inventories of greenhouse gases and pollutants; and a better understanding of renewable energy potential.

Climate: Understanding, assessing, predicting, mitigating, and adapting to climate variability
and change
The climate has impacts in each of the other eight societal benefit areas. Coping with climate change and variability demands good scientific understanding based on sufficient and reliable observations. GEOSS outcomes will enhance the capacity to model, mitigate, and adapt to climate change and variability. Better understanding of the climate and its impacts on the Earth system, including its human and economic aspects, will contribute to improved climate prediction and facilitate sustainable development while avoiding dangerous perturbation to the climate system.

Water: Improving water resource management through better understanding of the water cycle
Water-related issues addressed by GEOSS will include: precipitation; soil moisture; streamflow; lake and reservoir levels; snow cover; glaciers and ice; evaporation and transpiration; groundwater; and water quality and water use. GEOSS implementation will improve integrated water resource management by bringing together observations, prediction, and decision support systems and by creating better linkages to climate and other data. In situ networks and the automation of data collection will be consolidated, and the capacity to collect and use hydrological observations will be built where it is lacking.

Weather: Improving weather information, forecasting and warning
The weather observations encompassed by GEOSS are based on the requirements for timely short- and medium-term forecasts. GEOSS can help fill critical gaps in the observation of—for example—wind and humidity profiles, precipitation, and data collection over ocean areas; extend the use of dynamic sampling methods globally; improve the initialization of forecasts; and increase the capacity in developing countries to deliver essential observations and use forecast products. Every country will have the severe weather event information needed to mitigate loss of life and reduce property damage. Access to weather data for the other societal benefit areas will be facilitated.

Ecosystems: Improving the management and protection of terrestrial, coastal and marine
Observations are needed on the area, condition, and natural resource stock levels in ecosystems such as forests, rangelands, and oceans. GEOSS implementation will seek to ensure methodologies and observations are available on a global basis to detect and predict changes in ecosystem condition and to define resource potentials and limits. Ecosystem observations will be better harmonized and shared, spatial and topical gaps will be filled, and in situ data will be better integrated with space-based observations. Continuity of observations for monitoring wild fisheries, the carbon and nitrogen cycles, canopy properties, ocean color, and temperature will be set in place.

Agriculture: Supporting sustainable agriculture and combating desertification
Issues addressed by GEOSS will include: crop production; livestock, aquaculture and fishery statistics; food security and drought projections; nutrient balances; farming systems; land use and land cover change; and changes in the extent and severity of land degradation and desertification. GEOSS implementation will address the continuity of critical data, such as high-resolution observation data from satellites. A truly global mapping and information service, integrating spatially explicit socio-economic data with agricultural, forest, and aquaculture data will be feasible, with applications in poverty and food monitoring, international planning, and sustainable development.

Biodiversity: Understanding, monitoring and conserving biodiversity
Issues in this area include the condition and extent of ecosystems, distribution and status of species, and genetic diversity in key populations. Implementing GEOSS will unify many disparate biodiversity- observing systems and create a platform to integrate biodiversity data with other types of information. Taxonomic and spatial gaps will be filled, and the pace of information collection and dissemination will be increased.

Source: Earth Observatory