Outcomes from the 33rd CEOS Plenary in Hanoi, Vietnam

In October, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) and the Vietnam National Space Center (VNSC) welcomed the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) to Hanoi for the annual CEOS Plenary meeting, where leaders from the world’s major space agencies decide upon the direction of collaborative efforts in the Earth observation domain. Numerous priorities were discussed, including the 2019 CEOS Chair Initiative, CEOS climate activities, CEOS Analysis Ready Data, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), among many others.

2019 CEOS Chair Initiative

As its headline for 2019, VAST-VNSC chose to pursue the implementation of the Vietnam Data Cube. Working with CEOS Agencies and other partners, a robust collection of satellite data and tools were pooled in support of two specific applications for the Mekong basin region: carbon observations, including forested regions; and observations for agriculture (rice). The Mekong basin is an important cross-border agricultural region strongly affected by climate change and human activities.

Thanks to the effort of the CEOS community, the Vietnam Data Cube now contains the following data: Landsat from 1986 to present (from USGS); ALOS-2 (from JAXA) from November 2016 to present; and, Sentinel-1 (from ESA, processed to Analysis Ready Data by CESBIO/CNES) from October 2014 to present.

Forest cover change monitoring in Vietnam has been achieved with a focus on monthly forest loss estimates – developed by VNSC and CNES/CESBIO. Rice application outputs include crop maps (developed by VNSC, CNES/CESBIO, and JAXA) and production/yield estimates.

Capacity building events (with WGCapD) focused on the use of SAR for rice, forest, and flood monitoring, as well as ground motion detection and LCLUC. These activities have supported Vietnamese capacity to use SAR and other Earth observation data and helped grow technical capabilities around the Vietnam Data Cube.

Data and tools are now being put into practice by Vietnamese scientists. The platform is expected to continue growing and to provide critical inputs for government decision-making.

Climate and Carbon

The Plenary saw the approval of the ‘Roadmap’ approach for the implementation of recommendations from the CEOS AC-VC Greenhouse Gas white paper. The Roadmap will be presented for endorsement at CEOS SIT-35 in March 2020 and will outline the steps CEOS will take to produce a prototype atmospheric CO2 and CH4 flux inventory that is available in time to inform the bottom-up inventories for the 2023 global stocktake.

CEOS will also take steps to strengthen its connection to the Greenhouse Gas; Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) communities; and the UNFCCC Secretariat. Workshops are planned in June 2020 (hosted by the European Commission) and around the 2020 SIT Technical Workshop.

CEOS Analysis Ready Data

CEOS formally adopted a strategy on Analysis Ready Data (ARD). The Strategy, put forward by the new SIT Chair Team of CSIRO/GA, covers all aspects of development and uptake of CEOS ARD, and provides a structured and considered approach for how CEOS should move forward. The four pillars of the Strategy are: CEOS ARD User Needs & Specifications; Assured Production & Access; Pilots & Feedback; Communication & Promotion.

CEOS Analysis Ready Data are satellite data that have been processed to a minimum set of requirements and organised into a form that allows immediate analysis with a minimum of additional user effort and interoperability both through time and with other datasets.

The CEOS ARD Strategy builds on the foundation laid by the Land Surface Imaging Virtual Constellation and will be implemented by various groups across CEOS.

Leadership Changes

As well as numerous changes to Working Group leadership, CEOS Plenary endorsed NASA for the role of 2021 CEOS Chair, and welcomed CSIRO/GA as SIT Chair for the two-year term of 2020-2021 and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as 2020 CEOS Chair.

The 2019 CEOS Chair Team wishes to thank all outgoing Working Group Chairs (Mirko Albani, ESA, WGISS; Prakash Chauhan, ISRO, WGCapD; Simona Zoffoli, ASI, WGDisasters) for their service to CEOS and cooperation over the VAST-VNSC CEOS Chair year.

Other Highlights

The CEOS Coastal Observations and Applications Study Team (CEOS-COAST) was established – with an initial term of 12 months to assess how CEOS contributions to coastal observations might be integrated and transformed into fit-for-purpose information in support of existing and emerging stakeholder requirements.

Plenary also approved a one-year extension for the Ad Hoc Team on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-AHT). CEOS Agencies will consider contributions to the new SDG-AHT Work Plan. The approach proposed is to streamline CEOS efforts on the SDGs to three primary Indicators: 6.6.1, 11.3.1, and 15.3.1, which all have agreed methodologies with clear connections to EO.

Closing Remarks

I would like to thank CEOS once again for the opportunity to serve as Chair of this community during 2019. Internally, we’ve seen numerous benefits as a result, in particular from collaboration around the 2019 Chair Initiative – including data to help establish our in-house analysis platform (the Vietnam Data Cube), tools that use this data to create actionable information, and training to support capacity in the country and region. This year has truly demonstrated the power of collaboration through CEOS and we will remain engaged and active.

Further Information

More information on the 33rd CEOS Plenary and all of its outcomes can be found on the website and in the full record of the meeting.

Author: Dr Pham Anh Tuan, 2019 CEOS Chair, VAST-VNSC

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