by Peter Colohan (he’s awesome!), Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, April 19, 2013
Ever wonder where the Weather Channel gets its data? Where the satellite images for Google Earth come from? These data and much more come from a complex array of satellites, ocean buoys, stream gauges, human surveys, and other platforms for collecting what the scientific community calls Earth observations. These data are used every day to protect life and property and answer key questions about our planet.Today, the Obama Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released a National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations—a framework for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nation’s Earth-observation enterprise. Currently, 11 Federal departments and agencies engage in Earth observation activities, collecting volumes of important data about the Earth on an ongoing basis, using an array of sophisticated tools and systems. The new Strategy outlines a process for evaluating and prioritizing Earth-observation investments according to their value to society in critical areas such as agriculture, global change, disasters, water resources, and weather.Each year, the U.S. Government invests significant resources in Earth-observations systems to collect data about Earth’s land, oceans, ecosystems, and atmosphere. Together, these systems take the pulse of our planet, providing critical Earth-system data that scientists and analysts can then turn into usable information about climate and weather, disaster events, land-use changes, ecosystem health, natural resources, and more. Ultimately, information and services derived from Earth-observation data—including some as ubiquitous as weather forecasts and GPS-navigation—are used by policy makers, resource managers, business leaders, first-responders, and citizens to make important day-to-day decisions.But as the Nation’s Earth-observation capacity has grown, so has the complexity of the Earth-observation endeavor. The demand for data, the complexity of the tools required to collect those data, and the sheer amount of data being collected, all are increasing. The National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations aims to help Federal agencies face these challenges by better-organizing existing Earth-observation systems and information, and coordinating plans for future projects. In support of the Obama Administration’s Open Data Initiatives, this Strategy also provides specific guidance on how agencies can make these Earth observations more open and accessible to the public.Going forward, the Strategy will be used as a basis to inform a broad National Plan for Civil Earth Observations—a blueprint for future investments in US Earth-observing systems, including agency roles and responsibilities, and creative solutions to challenges related to maintaining the Nation’s Earth-observing systems. It will also reinforce the United States’ ongoing commitment to work with international partners through the multi-national Group on Earth Observations GEO.The Strategy released today provides an evidence-based framework for routine assessment and planning across the entire family of Federal agencies engaged in Earth observations. It will help agencies compare notes, prioritize activities, and improve the quality of data about the planet—with the ultimate goal of meeting society’s most pressing data and information needs. Read the Strategy here.Learn more about global Earth-observation efforts here.Peter Colohan is a Senior Policy Analyst at OSTP
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) urges national investment in a comprehensive, updated flood map inventory for every community in the US. This will drive down costs and suffering from flooding on our nation and its citizens, as well as providing the best tool for managing flood risk and building sustainable communities.
For full text and to download a copy of the report, visit The Association of State Floodplain Managers | ASFPM.
- More Resources on Floods – from ASFPM (recoverydiva.com)
by Jonathan Drake and Eric Ashcroft, Physics today, Feb 1, 2013
If scientific endeavor has a purpose beyond the accumulation of knowledge for its own sake, it must be for the progress and betterment of humanity. Despite the incredible scientific developments that have defined the modern era, however, the ability of science to solve humankind’s most enduring problems remains elusive. Nowhere is that more apparent than in conflict-torn regions where weapons technologies, with their roots in scientific discovery, are exploited with lethal effectiveness.While technology’s power to exacerbate violence in that way is well established, its role in mitigating hostilities has often been considerably less visible. Recently, however, new natural science technologies have made it possible to take a more active role in conflict reduction and the promotion of universal human rights. One of the most powerful of those technologies is satellite imagery.
For full text of the article, visit Eyes in the sky: Remote sensing in the service of human rights | Points of View – Physics Today.
Mapping Sciences Committee, National Research Council Preview Report Release, Jan 2013
Committee on the Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence; Board on Earth Sciences and Resources; Board on Higher Education and Workforce; Division on Earth and Life Studies; National Research Council
Abstract: We live in a changing world with multiple and evolving threats to national security, including terrorism, asymmetrical warfare (conflicts between agents with different military powers or tactics), and social unrest. Visually depicting and assessing these threats using imagery and other geographically-referenced information is the mission of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). As the nature of the threat evolves, so do the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to respond. The challenge for NGA is to maintain a workforce that can deal with evolving threats to national security, ongoing scientific and technological advances, and changing skills and expectations of workers.
Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence assesses the supply of expertise in 10 geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) fields, including 5 traditional areas (geodesy and geophysics, photogrammetry, remote sensing, cartographic science, and geographic information systems and geospatial analysis) and 5 emerging areas that could improve geospatial intelligence (GEOINT fusion, crowdsourcing, human geography, visual analytics, and forecasting). The report also identifies gaps in expertise relative to NGA’s needs and suggests ways to ensure an adequate supply of geospatial intelligence expertise over the next 20 years.
To download a PDF copy of the report, visit Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence.
- National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates – Geospatial Research and Mapping (GRAM) – Application Deadline March 1st 2013 (gisandscience.com)
- GAO Says OMB and Feds Need to Make Coordination a Priority (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Possibility and Probability in Geospatial Information Visualization (dhs.stanford.edu)
The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews. The looming gap in satellite coverage, which some experts view as almost certain within the next few years, could result in shaky forecasts about storms like Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit the East Coast early next week.
For full text of the article, visit Dying Satellites Could Lead to Shaky Weather Forecasts – NYTimes.com.
- Flying Blind: America’s Aging Weather Satellites (science.time.com)
by Matt Ball, Sensors and Systems, V1 Magazine, June 26, 2012
GeoEye received word late last week that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) would be making a significant cut in their 2013 funding under the Enhanced View contract, offering only a three or nine-month option. While there is still some indication that Congress might fully fund the program, the news was bleak enough to send GeoEye stock falling more than twenty percent. In this time of tightened government budgets, and unstable global economy, it’s tough on all businesses to remain stable, but combined with dramatic defense cuts, the pressures form a perfect storm for the U.S. commercial satellite imaging industry. The overwhelming defense demand has seen both companies grow strongly over the past decade, with capacity devoted mainly to this task. That strong demand has meant less of an emphasis on growing the commercial applications of this unique spatial intelligence, and without a broad base, some time will be needed to fill revenue gaps. …
For full text of this op-ed, visit Sensors & Systems – Do the NGA cuts mark a failure of the commercial satellite imagery market?.
Total USGS appropriations:
The FY 2011 appropriation was $1,083.7 million
The FY 2012 Administration request was $1,117.9 million
The FY 2012 appropriation is $1,069.7 million, a decline of $14.0 million or 1.3 percent.
For a breakdown of the appropriations by USGS programs under Surveys, Investigations and Research, visit the AIP FYI blog: FY 2012 Appropriation for U.S. Geological Survey.
Of note, the appropriations report states:
Land Use Change and Land Imaging
“Within Land Use Change, an increase of $11,500,000 is provided to complete funding for Landsat 8 ground operations development. The conferees have not agreed with the proposal to create a separate ‘Land Imaging’ account and have instead maintained funding for all satellite operations within this subactivity. Estimated administrative savings assumed in the proposed new account have been assumed within the Land Use Change account instead.
“The conferees have not agreed to transfer budgetary authority for the launch of Landsat satellites 9 and 10 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to the Survey. Of the requested $48,000,000 increase for its implementation, the conferees have provided $2,000,000 for program development only. The conferees note that future requests for the project are estimated by the Administration to escalate to over $400,000,000 by fiscal year 2014. There is little doubt that resources will not be available within the Interior Appropriations bill to support these very large increases without decimating all other Survey programs. The conferees note that the launch of Landsat 9 is not scheduled until 2018. This allows time in the year ahead for all interested parties to re-examine how to proceed with future Landsat missions. In the conferees’ view this would be a prudent step, inasmuch as the current budget proposal is based on a report from the Office of Science and Technology Policy issued in 2008, and both technological advances and a vastly different economic environment may point to other, less costly, options for obtaining Landsat data.”
National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program and National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Federal and State Partnerships
“Increases to the request include $998,000 for the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program to continue funding at the current year enacted level, and $1,500,000 for National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Federal and State Partnerships to partially restore the proposed reduction to that program. Decreases from the request include $500,000 from WaterSMART.”
Natural Hazards and Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
“The conferees have not agreed to proposed reductions in the request and have restored funds to the following programs: $2,000,000 for Earthquake Grants; $1,800,000 for the 2012 Multi-Hazards Initiative; and $1,500,000 for the National Volcano Early Warning System. Decreases from the request include $800,000 from the 2011 Multi-Hazards Initiative, and $3,000,000 from Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning.”
- Analysis of R & D Investments in FY 2012 Appropriations Bill (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)