Geoinformation, monitoring and assessment Environment

Updated November 1997

FAO activities: Environmental monitoring by satellite

Overview | Environmental monitoring | Agriculture | Forestry and fisheries | Projects, training, publications | Cooperation


Operational information services on environmental conditions in Africa and the Near East are since 1988 routinely provided by the ARTEMIS system to the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) on Food and Agriculture, the Desert Locust Plague Prevention Programme and regional and national food security early warning systems in Eastern and Southern Africa (IGAD, SADC).

In mid-1993, the ARTEMIS system was relocated to the new FAO Headquarters building. This has considerably improved its technical support to operational users, including the initiation of transmission of ARTEMIS products to users via E-mail. During 1993, the DIANA satellite communication system, developed and implemented jointly with ESA, became fully operational with micro-computer terminals at FAO Headquarters and in Nairobi, Harare and Accra. Further development and broadening of the DIANA concept is being implemented under the UNEP/ESA MERCURE project.

In August 1993, the Government of the Netherlands approved Phase III of the ARTEMIS project (1993-1996) which will enable complete integration of the ARTEMIS core costs into the FAO Regular Programme and support to operational environmental monitoring activities and technology transfer and training programmes at regional and national levels in Eastern and Southern Africa. In October 1993, the Dutch Government approved a three-year Phase II regional remote sensing project for the SADC countries, having the objective of making the SADC region self-supporting for the acquisition, pre-processing and thematic processing of Meteosat and NOAA AVHRR data for providing operational information services for early warning for food security and environmental monitoring.

A technical capability for processing and distribution of ARTEMIS data for West and Central Africa has been developed within the FAO Regional Office for Africa in Accra, Ghana and cooperation is being established with various institutions in Ghana, Benin and Ivory Coast for supporting applications development and calibration activities.

During 1996, the ARTEMIS system underwent a major hardware/software upgrading in response to the needs of a rapidly growing userbase in both the operational and scientific community. User access to the ARTEMIS databases was considerably improved and the system capacity was expanded to be able to host the sizeable and quickly growing ARTEMIS databases.

Implementation of the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) Workstation

FAO uses the Meteosat-based estimates of rainfall and the NOAA/AVHRR-based assessments of vegetation cover as one of the key inputs for operational monitoring of crop conditions by the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS). Assessment of crop growing conditions and related food production outlook is based on agrometeorological observations combined with remote sensing and other relevant socio-economic information. The development of models to integrate satellite and agrometeorological data with socio-economic and nutritional information, using GIS technology, is currently being finalized under the GIEWS Risk Mapping Project. This Project is implemented by FAO in partnership with the Save the Children Fund (SCF-UK) in London and executed by ESCG/GIEWS with financial assistance from the European Union.

Since early 1992, GIEWS is implementing the project "System Definition and Development of a Computer Workstation for GIEWS" with funding from the EU. The objective of the project is to develop a tool to better integrate image and graphic data especially the socio-economic and nutritional indicators with the satellite-based ARTEMIS products and field agro-meteorological data in the analysis and reporting process of the GIEWS analysts. The University of Arizona has been contracted to develop the GIEWS workstation. A Prototype was installed and tested at FAO Rome in June/July 1993. The development of an advanced version of the Workstation started in September 1993, along with the establishment of databases. Work on this version was finalized in 1995 and is now fully operational at FAO Headquarters. Its applications development at the regional levels is now being undertaken within the framework of the Regional Early Warning System in the SADC region through the FAO/SADC Regional Remote Sensing Project.

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