Japan announces open access to radar data

21 November 2019

Japan will provide free and open access to a suite of data from their satellites. The announcement was made at the GEO Ministerial Summit held in Canberra, Australia last week (GEO Week 2019).

The radar data and associated information will be made available by GFOI partner the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). “Japan will provide free and open access to the wide-swathe observation data from the L-band radar satellites, such as ALOS (ALOS/AVINIR-2, PALSAR) and ALOS-2 (ALOS-2/ScanSAR),” said Ms Sasaki, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

The open sharing of the high resolution data and historical time series is a valuable resource for improving the monitoring of forests and land-use change especially in tropical regions, where cloud cover and various other challenges exist.

Japan is a world leader in the development and application of L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which can acquire images day and night and regardless of weather conditions. This technology is key to monitoring areas with clouds and heavy rainfall such as the Amazon and South-East Asian rainforests.

Free access to satellite data is an essential part of the strategy to tackle climate change and make progress towards sustainable development. Between 1990 and 2015, the globe lost some 129 million ha of forest net, an area about the size of South Africa, with the largest losses occurring in the tropics, according to Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2015.

GFOI’s partner countries can benefit from this now freely available data and information to enhance their forest monitor capabilities to improve decision making and international reporting.

Read more on Japan announcement on GEO’s website.