About EO Data Coordination

The lack of coordination among EO-data sources has led to gaps in spatial and temporal coverage in key agricultural areas and during important periods of the agricultural growing season. Even when there is adequate spatiotemporal coverage, gaining access to these data can be impeded by lack of connectivity, computational, storage, and/or licensing.  As such, one of the core activities of GEOGLAM is the coordination of Earth observation data. This includes:

  • Fostering open communication and coordination with the Committee on Earth observation Satellites (CEOS) to ensure representation of agricultural requirements and acquisition requests to the world’s space agencies
  • Characterization and quantification of observation requirements to derive agricultural variables
  • Definition of “Essential Agricultural Variables for GEOGLAM”

CEOS is a consortium of the world’s space agencies whose role is to coordinate and harmonize Earth observations to make it easier for the user community to access and utilize data. CEOS initially focused on interoperability, common data formats, the inter-calibration of instruments, common validation and inter-comparison of products. CEOS now focuses on validated requirements levied by external organizations and continues its role as the primary forum for international coordination of space-based Earth observation missions.

CEOS is a critical partner of the GEOGLAM program. The CEOS Ad Hoc Working Group on GEOGLAM was established in 2012 by CEOS to respond to the space-based Earth observation (EO) data needs established by GEOGLAM under its EO Data Coordination Initiative. From 2013-2015, the Ad Hoc Working Group annually prepared a CEOS Strategic Response to GEOGLAM Requirements document, for CEOS Plenary’s endorsement, which focused on EO data acquisition only. Beginning in 2015, the activities of the group broadened to cover more activities, including fostering strategic relationships and promoting and facilitating data access, data availability, and data utilization. A full scope of the AHWG’s work can be found here.

CEOS agencies have helped make agricultural monitoring possible, and at the same time GEOGLAM has helped to bring relevance to the investments in space based EO missions. Working together our communities have effectively delivered and surpassed the original G20 policy mandate on market volatility, with recent coordination on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its constituent Goals (SDGs).

Earth Observation Requirements Working Group

Since 2012 GEOGLAM has worked closely with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). Between 2012-2014 together we developed the first comprehensive assessment of satellite EO requirements, articulating the sensor-agnostic spatial, spectral, and temporal resolution requirements necessary to derive a number of agricultural products across different landscapes (broken out by field size). An analysis was undertaken to measure capability of current and planned missions to meet GEOGLAM’s EO data requirements, which is still used today to guide future mission planning to ensure sufficient agricultural coverage.

The GEOGLAM requirements continue to evolve as the science, technology and missions evolve. Also, the GEOGLAM mission is evolving to address priorities around Paris Accord, the Sendai Framework, and SDGs that have all come about since the original G20 mandate in 2011. As such, the data requirements for GEOGLAM continually evolve as does our relationship with CEOS and we have now redefined our requirements for 2019. The report on 2019 requirements and CEOS response is available here.

The table of GEOGLAM satellite data (right columns) requirements for community information needs (“target products” along top row), updated in 2018 in response to multiple sources including community survey, workshops, literature review, and research site information. This built upon the methods and efforts described in Whitcraft et al. (2015a). Requirements are characterized by spatial & spectral range, frequency with which reasonably cloud-free data are required, geographic extent of satellite acquisition, as well as the target product for which the measurements are suitable. Specific target product requirements are further refined by the field sizes for which a certain measurement would be useful. These appear on the right side of the table, where “L” refers to “Large fields” (defined as >15 ha), “M” refers to “Medium fields” (defined as 1.5–15 ha), and “S” refers to “small fields” (<1.5 ha). The symbol “x” indicates that these data are useful for that product’s generation for all field sizes. “VIS” indicates spectral coverage in the visible range (wavelength = ~400-700 nm), “Red Edge” indicates the same for ~680-750 nm, NIR is “near infrared” (~750-1300 nm), SWIR is “shortwave infrared” (~1300-3000 nm), thermal is “thermal infrared” (~3000-14000 nm), passive microwave (frequency = 1-200 GHz; wavelength = 0.15-30 cm), and SAR is “synthetic aperture radar” with multiple frequencies in the 1-5.5 GHz range (3-25 cm wavelength).

As we look to the future we are working together to refine data needs including the development of analysis ready data and the computing infrastructures required to effectively manage and analyze these big data holdings.

Essential Agricultural Variables Working Group

Since 2011 the GEOGLAM community has been growing at a steady pace, collaborating with more and more international initiatives. GEOGLAM is widely viewed as a reliable and credible source of information on crop conditions for markets and food security early warning. Over time, however, the priorities of the national and international organizations GEOGLAM serves have also evolved. Demand has increased for quantitative estimations of cropland and rangeland state and change.

Meanwhile, in the policy domains, multiple new heavyweight policy drivers have emerged, including the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Accords (the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Consequently, as we look toward solutions for humanity’s problems, GEOGLAM must have a way to simplify complexity and provide clarity to communicate our potential contribution to custodian agencies while enhancing our ability to integrate knowledge and information across science and policy domains.

Consequently, GEOGLAM needs to clearly define the minimum set of variables we require to meet current and evolving policy drivers, these we refer to as Essential Agricultural Variables for GEOGLAM (EAVs). The GEOGLAM community has created a working group to address and define the EAVs in the 2019-2020 timeframe. In the meantime, as a precursor to this activity we have drafted an EAV white paper for further information on this activity.

The “Data to Decisions” Cycle for GEOGLAM, which is guiding the work of GEOGLAM in general and the GEOGLAM EAV working group in particular. The decision support needs drive the information and data required, and the data is processed and converted gradually into the knowledge that supports sustained decisions. At left, the primary actors for each stage in the cycle are identified, however, all steps are integrated and connected.

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