EUMETSAT's primary objective is to establish, maintain and exploit European systems of operational meteorological satellites. It is responsible for the launch and operation of weather and environmental monitoring satellites and for delivering satellite data to end-users. EUMETSAT also contributes to the operational monitoring of the environment and the detection of global climate changes.
The organisation traces its history back to 1977 when the first Meteosat satellite was launched by the European Space Agency (ESA). The success of that satellite led to an Intergovernmental Conference, held in two sessions in 1981 and 1983, which agreed on the establishment of a new organisation. The EUMETSAT Convention entered into force on 19 June 1986.
Staying on top of weather satellite technologies
Responsibility for the Meteosat system passed to EUMETSAT in January 1987. In 1991 it initiated a new programme, the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG), to ensure continuity of observations from geostationary orbit until the late 2020s.
|Just one of many images provided by EUMETSAT|
EUMETSAT is now a world-recognised organisation, one of the major partners in satellite systems for observing the entire planet. It has allowed Europe to take its place among the most advanced global monitoring players and is expected to play a major role in the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) currently being developed by the Group on Earth Observation (GEO). It is also an important part of Europe’s ‘Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security’ (GMES) initiative.
The success of EUMETSAT has ensured the availability of key satellite data not only for Europe but also for many developing countries that now rely on its data and systems.
Serving a diverse user community
EUMETSAT's Meteosat system is intended primarily to support the National Meteorological Services (NMS) of Member States. The NMS in turn distribute image data to other end users, notably through the provision of forecasts on television several times a day. Thus, most of the population of Europe makes direct use of EUMETSAT's imagery.
|Just one of many images provided by EUMETSAT|
Second priority is given to the NMS of non-Member States. These are given privileged access to Meteosat data in the tradition of data exchange between meteorological services. Like EUMETSAT Member States, they too use the data for the preparation of forecasts and for distribution to television audiences.
In addition to users in these two important categories, universities and research institutes rely on Meteosat data for research and education. Commercial organisations can be end-users (such as airlines) or service providers (television stations and commercial weather forecasting firms). Smaller reception facilities are installed in schools, flying clubs and marinas and are used by many private individuals.
In all, a few thousand systems, located in over 100 countries around the world, allow for direct reception of EUMETSAT image data.
Co-operation with the European Commission and beyond
As a European organisation, EUMETSAT has been co-operating with the EC since its creation. Coordination mechanisms have now been set-up with the EC Directorate in charge of Space activities.
More recently, together with the EC Directorate General for Development (DG Dev), EUMETSAT has initiated a continent-wide project enabling all 53 African countries to have access to Earth Observation information through the EUMETCast system. This project, known as PUMA (Preparation for the Use of Meteosat Second Generation in Africa) will deploy 60 EUMETCast receiving stations in Africa and will enable all African countries, plus a number of regional centres, to access all EUMETSAT data, products and services, together with other space-based information such as SPOT Vegetation data. This project is currently under implementation and should be finalised by September 2005. As a continuation of the PUMA project, on the request of 5 African Economic groupings, the European Commission has initiated the feasibility study of the AMESD (African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development) project.
|Helping to predict drought in developing countries;|
© Image: Peter Gutierrez
Based on the infrastructure deployed with PUMA, AMESD will ensure the African decision-makers will have access to space-based information enabling to properly follow the state of the Environment of the African continent. AMESD will cover major thematic areas such as forest and water monitoring, desertification and disasters management. The AMESD initiative is a direct follow-on of the recommendations made at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in September 2002 and of the G-8 Summit of Evian in June 2003. AMESD is currently considered as a candidate for the African component of the GMES initiative.