Navigation path


Earth observation

| Earth Observation

    EO technologies help safeguard the planet © ESA
    EO technologies are key to competitiveness
    © ESA

    Global environment change is placing enormous pressure on the Earth's natural resources and on human society. It is altering the climate, increasing the frequency and severity of natural disasters, degrading the oceans and forests, triggering new diseases and depleting supplies of food and freshwater.

    Earth Observation (EO) technologies provide powerful tools for monitoring the state of the planet and the global impact of human activities. EO comprises in situ observation, that is direct observation carried out in close proximity to the object or phenomenon of interest, and remote sensing, or observation from a distance. Examples of EO at work today include thousands of data buoys operating in the world’s oceans, hundreds of thousands of land-based environmental stations on the ground, tens of thousands of observations by radiosondes and aircrafts in the air, and over 50 environmental satellites orbiting the globe.

    Today, people and governments around the globe are putting environmental data to good use, estimating crop yields, monitoring water and air quality and improving airline safety. Up-to-date weather and pollution reports are examples of high-quality Earth Observation-based services of direct interest to the average citizen, but EO data is used in a wide variety of other fields, impacting on both economies and ecosystems and playing a key role in improving the quality of life of people on every continent.

    EO technologies help safeguard the planet © IRD

    EO technologies help safeguard the planet
    © IRD

    Europe is one of the world’s leading players in the advancement of EO technologies and related environmental applications. European remote sensing satellites cover all of the Earth's climatic zones, while European ground-based, air-based and ocean-based monitoring devices serve users by providing high quality observation data in areas as diverse as urban planning, adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, disaster reduction, disease control and humanitarian relief.

    Yet, while research and technological development (RTD) has succeeded in providing instruments and systems that now generate literally millions of environment-related data sets, there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of the interoperability of these systems and the effective and efficient management, integration and distribution of data in support of the citizens of every nation. In addition, significant blind spots in our observation and understanding of the Earth still remain, requiring targeted activities to fill the gaps. Concerted research activities are needed to support all of this important work. The FP7 cooperation theme environment is contributing to support those activities.

    The Group on Earth Observations (GEO), comprising more than 70 countries and the European Commission, is designed aims to improve the quality and the quantity of our understanding of the Earth system, by offering vital information about our planet to the global policy and decision makers to provide adequate responses to the pressing challenges facing our Planet