How Space Climate Observatory is helping to reshape Africa

image credit: ESA

The Space Climate Observatory (SCO) is a group of international space agencies from different countries aimed at improving, maintaining and sustaining local, institutional and technical capacities for accessing and using Earth observation data and services for sustainable socio-economic development. SCO also furnishes decision-makers with data and tools needed to implement sustainable socio-economic development at the continental, regional and national levels.

OSS Saint Loius, Senegal

Saint Loius Coastline. Image credit: IRD- RAFAEL ALMAR

This undertaking concerns the Saint-Louis coastline, which is especially powerless against seaside disintegration and flooding. The aim is to acquire more information, raise awareness among all concerned institutions of the hazards and risks posed to coastal areas due to climate change, and develop tools and indicators relating to the local population’s vulnerability and economic activities.

Coastal conditions are perplexing frameworks with an exceptionally high degree of interdependence between the physical, ecological and social parts.

According to a World bank analysis in 2019, coastal degradation accounts for over 13,000 deaths a year, primarily due to floods, air and water pollution.

Coastal areas produce around 56 per cent of the regions GDP, with farming accounting for an estimated sale of USD 2.5 billion.

In certain territories in Senegal, the coastline is subsiding by 0.5m to 2m each year. Simultaneously, the nation has been affected by flooding brought about by high precipitation, flooding waterways as well as tempest floods, mechanical and domestic pollution, saltwater intrusion and mangrove obliteration.

To tackle the impact of climate change in this area, it is crucial to decisively follow hydrodynamics, morphology and sedimentology on various scales in existence and join this interaction with numerical models to understand, design and deal with the progressions in these environments.

The project group selected an area of study that illustrates Senegal’s perils and more concisely, in West Africa. That area is the coastline of Saint-Louis, which has been prone to coastal disintegration and flooding. 

The venture will include perceptions, estimations and simulations at three working destinations: the breach, the new stream mouth, a profoundly fierce zone where it is challenging to gain in-situ analyses of coastal hydrodynamics and bathymetry; the Langue de Barbarie sand spit, and the lower estuary.

The project team obtained satellite data from various open-source data from the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus Sentinel 1,2,3, SPOT6/7 and The National Centre of Space Studies (CNES) Pleiades-HR. The project team programmed a calculation for coastline detection and created a geospatial information database of high-hazard zones, including planning current and future areas of interest.

MANGROVE Madagascar

Bombekota Bay. Image credit: NASA

The need to comprehend and screen mangrove forest can not be overemphasised. There is a need to organise and manage their natural resources to portray the connections between worldwide change and the condition of their immediate environment and how to guarantee their protection. The project’s goal is to help institutional partners responsible for Mangroves by utilising Copernicus and THRS data.

Mangrove forests serve as interfaces between the land and sea. They are the most critical bioindicators of any coastal ecosystem’s environmental quality and as long-term carbon sinks for carbon-storing or sequestration. Mangroves are seen in 123 tropical and subtropical countries with a worlds mangrove distribution of 181,000 squared kilometres.

The most remarkable thing about mangroves is that they are halophytes; they can tolerate salt and live in areas where oceans and seas meet the land. They also protect against storm surges, hurricanes, and extreme events.

The destruction of mangroves is related to human population density. Significant reasons for the collapse are urban coastal development, aquaculture, mining and overexploitation for timber. Over the next 25 years, unrestricted clear-felling and overexploitation of fisheries will be the most significant threats.

To effectively stop this trend, earth observation tools enable a rehashed return to  estimations over these difficult to-arrive-at conditions. It has a wide range of accessible sensors and demonstrated strategies for processing the procured data. France has a background marked by significant involvement with the field, with expert networks coordinated into Skill Centers essential for the national Data Terra research organisation.

The majority of the optical and radar satellites data needed to fabricate these items are made accessible by current systems such as DINAMIS of the Data Terra research framework.

Since 2015, the French Coral Reef Initiative (IFRECOR) has been developing MERCI-Cor, a technique to evaluate the significance of a biological effect, guarantee better avoidance and reduce environmental misfortunes by estimating compensatory measures to balance previous losses. 

Typical indicators that provide information on the dynamics and state of particular natural resources, biomass, nature of the sediment and hydro-sedimentary processes must be regularly updated. The application of various imageries from satellites such as the Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, SPOT 6-7 and the Pleiades is also vital to the project’s goal.

The need to set up operational monitoring of the mangrove forest using remote sensing tools cannot be overemphasised. This can be achieved by mobilising the concerned stakeholders and adapting to the latest tools, resources and equipment.

The regions for experimentation include the French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and other territories that fall under the mangrove forest.

ECLAT Lake Chad

image credit: Alhaji Muktar

The ECLAT project’s target is to give robotised decision support instruments dependent on satellite observation imageries for evaluating and foreseeing the effects of environmental change in the Lake Chad area. The observing markers will zero in on agricultural, natural and metropolitan conditions and connected to the elements of water resources in Lake Chad.

The Lake Chad region was chosen for ESA’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development project. The area is one of the four delicate districts worldwide after a conference with bodies like the World Bank and UNDP. Environmental change is the primary factor behind the delicacy. It is essential to note the struggle and endemic brutality by the spreading impact of Boko Haram in the region. Extreme variations in temperature and precipitation and the recurrence of floods and dry spells are expected to increase in the Lake Chad locale in the coming years. These factors greatly influence food security, prompt populace dislodging and the growth in refugee camps, increasing the danger of conflicts and brutality.

By utilising a multi-sensor satellite approach, the ECLAT project aims to survey the advancement by; observing the indigenous habitat, checking land use and agricultural cover, the development of metropolitan zones or refugee camps, and water management resources in the region.

Copernicus Sentinel 1, 2, 3, Landsat, Jason, Pleiades, WorldView, and other open-source high-resolution data would be integrated, and chosen subjects will be used to set up an operational early warning service.

The utilisation of in-situ information accessible through open information sources and those that could be made accessible by clients will be amplified for the alignment and approval of the created geospatial items.

An ECLAT execution plan is proposed for joining the EO4SD project. This plan will also consider incorporating new partners like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2021.

Due to human civilisation’s adverse effect on the global environment, Earth Observation (EO) is critical now more than ever. Whether atmospheric, oceanic, or terrestrial, EO data can be used by decision-makers concerned with effecting policies aligned with local goals for sustainable development.

According to studies, while advances in EO capabilities have increased in the range of information they can provide for decision making, the most significant value proposition of EO data is its continuous spatial-temporal coverage at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional methods objectiveness and the sustainability of services. EO is making the Space Climate Observatory’s Sustainable Development Growth framework feasible by providing essential evidence, including tracking indicators over time and supporting the implementation of solutions to reach specific targets.