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The challenge

Harnessing our capabilities to manage the environment

We understand the power of Earth observation data to inform policy, manage natural environments, and generate agricultural and industrial development opportunities.

Earth observation data is acquired from satellites, airborne platforms, and in-situ measurements on land and in water and the atmosphere, and gives detailed insights over time into Earth's physical, chemical and biological systems.

Australia is a world leader in the use of remote sensing technologies.

There are significant challenges, however, in terms of the acquisition, processing, analysis and integration of these rapidly increasing large, robust critical datasets.

The Australian Government currently spends around $100 million per annum on Earth observation from space and associated data processing. There are over 100 active federal and state government programs, representing a further government investment of about $950 million, with direct dependencies on Earth observation data estimated to contribute more than $3.3 billion per annum to GDP.

Our response

Coordinated Earth observation science

Working with Australian and international partners, we're currently delivering more than 35 Earth observation-related projects: from the development of new sensing technologies and robust data processing methods to integrated resource and environmental applications and services.

Our researchers in collaboration with Geoscience Australia, CEOS partners and the National Computational Infrastructure, have developed the Open Data Cube (ODC) platform to house and process petabytes of satellite Earth observation data from multiple sensors. The ODC is used as the base technology for Digital Earth Australia, providing Earth observation products to Australian Government, and in the international CEOS data cube assisting developing countries to use Earth observation data and analytics.

Our strong partnerships and capabilities in Earth observation and informatics underpin a wide array of applications.

We are deploying the ODC in a new Earth analytics industry hub that facilitates business access to and engagement with CSIRO scientists and online analytics services.

A CSIRO-led global monitoring tool, the GEOGLAM RAPP Map is one example. The RAPP provides monitoring of the condition of the world’s rangelands and pasture lands, and assess their capacity to sustainably produce animal protein in real-time, at various scales. The interactive online tool uses the latest satellite technology to provide automatic weekly updates to the map, which is being used by researchers and policy-makers involved in agriculture and land management. Additional services for water quality and agricultural monitoring are planned.

Other Earth observations and informatics application include:

  • agriculture, food, fuels and fibre
  • non-renewable resources (energy and minerals and related environmental issues)
  • water resources (precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, droughts and floods, irrigation and inland water quantity)
  • inland to coastal to marine water quality and related seagrass and coral reef ecosystems
  • habitat metrics and monitoring (terrestrial and aquatic)
  • biodiversity trends and condition
  • biosecurity
  • urban environments
  • climate change and variability, including carbon budgets
  • disaster prevention, monitoring and mitigation (bushfires, floods, spills)
  • logistics.

Our core partners include:

Australian partners: Space Coordination Office – Department of Industry, GeoScience Australia, BoM, DSTO, IMOS, TERN, NCI, University of Queensland, Joint Remote Sensing Research Program (JRSRP).

International partners: GEO, CEOS, APRSAF, European Space Agency, DLR (German Aerospace Laboratories), GFZ (Germany), CNR (Italy), JAXA (Japan), NASA-JPL, NOAA, Chinese Academy of Sciences, WorldBank.

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