The giant ‘tsunami' waves that struck southern Asia and parts of east Africa have given the world a visible taste of the devastation that natural disasters can wreak on vulnerable communities, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and millions homeless in its wake.
|The inside story on Earth observation and how it could help mitigate natural disasters like December's tsunami.|
The international community has vowed to set up a tsunami early-warning system – something European research and know-how can contribute to. As issue 44 of RTD info explains, in a special ten-page dossier, this catastrophe is a tragic demonstration of the importance of Earth observation.
Not only is it critical in sounding the alarm, but it can also provide valuable logistical information following a disaster. Satellite images helped build a picture of the extent of the damage and relief agencies use them to plan their efforts. “Space – and its ground stations – has become an essential tool of intervention and prevention for the inhabitants of this common home that is so often the victim of natural disasters,” RTD info observes.
Visitors to the Earth & Space Week, 12-20 February, will be treated to the latest ideas, technologies and thinking in this field through high-level discussion, expos and a host of cultural, recreational and educational activities.
As part of the Week, the ‘Third International Earth Observation Summit' will take place in Brussels, on 16 February. This event will lay the groundwork for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), with the approval of a Ten-Year Implementation Plan. Representatives from 30 international organisations and the Commission are involved in building a comprehensive, coordinated, and sustainable system for observing the Earth and sharing scientific data between 58 interested countries.
Issue 44 also takes a close look at how the EU-wide 112 emergency number works and efforts to improve its efficiency. From there, it travels to the new Member States where it embarks on a tour of Polish research institutes. In this seven-page special, an RTD info journalist visits the prestigious Polish Academy of Sciences, the Nencki Institute, and the Technology Transfer Centre at the Cracow University of Technology.
The 40-page magazine also profiles the EU's 2004 Descartes Prize for scientific excellence through close transnational co-operation and the brand new Descartes Prize for science communication. On top of its regular round-up of research and policy events and happenings, it delves into the world of gender identity and explores the issues related to masculinity.