GEOSS in the Americas Leverages International Resources for Action

EarthzineEarth Observation, Earthly Updates, GEO/GEOSS News, Original, Sections

cropped image from a time series graph showing searches using climate change.

What do the Americas and the Caribbean have in common? Outside of their shared location, all have similar concerns related to issues such as sea-level rise and coastal inundation risk; biodiversity; geographic information; air quality and public health; and mapping and monitoring forest carbon. That’s where GEOSS Americas comes in. The First GEOSS in the Americas Symposium was held in Brazil in 2007. Since then, additional symposia and collaborative activities have had a major impact on the welfare of more than 22 nations in the Americas.

USAID photo of flooding in Guatemala

Flooding in Guatemala. Source: USAID

One major initiative that has grown out of GEOSS Americas is the GEOSS Americas Forum on Coastal Management,a project of the International Coastal Zone Community of Practice. A 2009 symposium hosted by NASA and including representatives of more than a dozen nations kicked off ongoing collaborative programs. Together, NASA and institutions in North, Central and South America are developing capacity-building programs to increase understanding and management of stream flow and floods, drought monitoring and prediction, irrigation and water supply, water quality, and climate change as it impacts water resources.

SERVIR imagery and visualization tools image from NASA Science News

SERVIR imagery and visualization tools. Source: NASA Science News

Working with nations across the Americas, American agencies including NASA and NOAA have supported the work of GEOSS Americas. NASA’s SERVIR, for example, is a high-tech satellite visualization system that monitors the environment of Central America. It helps track and combat wildfire, improves land use and agricultural practices, and helps local officials respond faster to natural disasters. CATHALAC (Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and The Caribbean), hosts SERVIR’s supercomputer at its headquarters in Panama City. SERVIR integrates data from a variety of sources and displays a real-time map of crisis points, allowing decisions-makers to see where flooding will occur, the location of forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural hazards.

Image from NOAA News represents repositioning of the GOES-10 satellite in 2007

Repositioning of GOES-10 satellite. Source: NOAA News

In 2007, as part of the GEOSS Americas initiative, NOAA repositioned its GOES-10 satellite to better image South and Central America with the goals of lessening the effects of natural disasters in the region. This doubled the number of images possible, providing images every 15 minutes over an area reaching almost to the South Pole. In May, 2010, NOAA began shifting the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) -12 spacecraft from its previous GOES-EAST position, at 75 degrees West, to its new orbital location at 60 degrees West. According to a NOAA press release, ” Moving GOES-12 is a significant contribution to the emerging Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS). This global, public infrastructure allows managers and decision makers to respond more effectively to the many environmental challenges facing society. GEOSS links individual observing systems into a sustained, comprehensive global system.”