Joint action to monitor impact of climate change in ACP countries

As the consequences of climate change become increasingly apparent, two European bodies, EUMETSAT and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), have come together and signed a
collaboration agreement.

The agreement will see the institutions combining their efforts to tackle the potential environmental challenges that developing countries are likely to face as a result of climate change. Data
generated by EUMETCast, EUMETSAT’s near-real-time broadcast system for environmental data, will allow the JRC’s African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Observatory to generate data.

According to Roland Schenkel, Director-General of the JRC, this agreement will also allow for the generation of operational products. ‘Ensuring strong links between a research-based policy
support organisation – the JRC – and an operational organisation – EUMETSAT – both involved in the field of Earth observation, will greatly facilitate the difficult process of transforming
research results into operational products that can be delivered on a sustainable and regular basis to users.’

While ACP countries are amongst the lowest consumers of fossil fuels, they stand to bear the brunt of the consequences created by the greenhouse gasses emitted by industrialised countries.
Pacific islands could see their land mass disappear from beneath their feet, while African nations could witness longer droughts. Improving knowledge is a major requirement; and Earth
observation, the focus of this agreement, has a major role to play here.

The agreement will also support the Implementation Plan of the Global Climate Observing System, an international institution charged with providing the necessary observations for monitoring the
climate. It was initiated in 1992 by the United Nations.

The agreement also creates a framework for the efficient exchange of experience on training. In addition to exchanging material and information, trainers will be invited on a case by case basis
to participate in and contribute to training sessions, in coordination with EUMETSAT’s planned training activities.

This is not the first time that the two agencies have combined their efforts. Dr Lars Prahm, Director-General of EUMETSAT, commented: ‘Joint efforts in the past between EUMETSAT and the Joint
Research Centre have already proven to be successful in the climate monitoring domain and valuable for the development of capacities in Africa. EUMETSAT and the JRC have for example developed
algorithms to derive the albedo of the Earth surface. The surface albedo quantifies how much solar radiation is reflected back from the surface to the atmosphere and it is a key climate

‘The signature of this Collaboration Agreement provides a new impulse that will be beneficial to global initiatives like GMES [Global Monitoring for Environment and Security], its contribution
to Africa and the building of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems,’ said Dr Prahm.

Separately, the JRC is currently helping to develop the observational, monitoring, modelling and analytical capacity of the Africa Observatory for Sustainable Development. The observatory
covers environment and natural resources, food security and crop production, and crisis prevention and management in selected areas of Africa. The knowledge generated by this observatory
encourages international cooperation and coordination, and generates data for scenario-building and diagnostics.

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