Experts: Space data can mitigate climate crisis

Satellite constellations run by agencies worldwide give a clear picture of how Earth’s climate is changing but getting that data to decision-makers remains problematic, a panel of experts told an audience at the 39th Space Symposium in April.

Christian Hauglie-Hanssen, director general Norwegian Space Agency said agencies are drowning in a flood of data from space, but face difficulty translating the massive cache into actionable information that governments can use to drive decisions.

“This can be applied not only to the climate issue but to relief and sustainability,” he said.

Karen St. Germain, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, said her agency is working to share climate data derived from U.S. satellites widely, and has developed a common understanding in the climate science community.

“Everyone on this panel and in this room knows we are seeing pretty dramatic changes in the Earth system, and that’s from the global to the regional level.” She said.

Philippe Baptiste, president of France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) said data already obtained can be put to work, using climate science to guide regulatory and economic decisions that could limit climate impact and spare communities from harm. But parsing through the ocean of information can prove difficult.

“The question is what do we do out of this data?” he said.

With its equatorial expanse, Africa may be the continent most susceptible to the dangers of climate change, and the continent with the least access to data from space.

Tidiane Ouattara, president of the African Space Council, said his continent needs increased access to satellites needs to build a continental communications structure, drive agricultural management, and to develop resiliency to help communities prepare for natural disasters.
“Space can contribute to resolving the problems,”