While the denialistas continues continue to spread doubt and confusion about Climate Change, and do their best to cripple efforts to address it, the European Union is embarking on an unprecedented effort to monitor the planet. The overall name of the program is Copernicus: the first satellite was just launched April 3, 2014, Sentinel 1. Here's an overview of the Copernicus program.
Copernicus is a European system for monitoring the Earth.The BBC has an overview here as well:
Copernicus consists of a complex set of systems which collect data from multiple sources: earth observation satellites and in situ sensors such as ground stations, airborne and sea-borne sensors. It processes these data and provides users with reliable and up-to-date information through a set of services related to environmental and security issues…
The services address six thematic areas: land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security. They support a wide range of applications, including environment protection, management of urban areas, regional and local planning, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, health, transport, climate change, sustainable development, civil protection and tourism.
The biggest civil Earth-observation programme ever conceived begins its rollout on Thursday with the launch of a radar satellite from French Guiana.Here's a link to an ESA video showing Sentinal 1 in action.
The EU's Sentinel-1a spacecraft will be followed into orbit by a fleet of other satellites in the coming years.
Together, they will return an unprecedented volume of data on the state of the planet.
European nations have so far committed 7.5bn euros (£6.2bn; $10.3bn) to the project, through to the decade's end.
But the vision is that Copernicus, to give the venture its official title, is unending - that every Sentinel satellite is replaced at the demise of its mission, to ensure there is continuity of information deep into this century.
"There is no Earth observation project as big as this," said Prof Anne Glover, the European Union's chief scientific adviser.
"It will give European scientists and European citizens the ability to understand precisely what is happening on our planet - from the poles, to the oceans, to the land," she told BBC News.
It is a stunning indictment of the current state of politics in the United States today that the U.S. is not already engaged in this kind of effort. (And it's not because we don't have anything ready and waiting.) It represents one more area among the many in which the United States is falling behind the rest of the world. It's a failure of America's media complex as well, in that this is getting little or no attention despite the increasing amount of Climate Change news. This is as potentially game changing as the IGY proved to be.
Fortunately for Americans, the BBC notes:
All of the data acquired by the Sentinels will be open and free - anyone, anywhere in the world, will be able to make use of the information.Meanwhile, there's an opportunity for Citizen Scientists to do their part in data collection in a separate effort. Scientific American reports University of Southern California researchers are working on a project to use cameras on Android smart phones as sensors to monitor air pollution. The Air Visibility Monitoring project has the details here.
Remember when the future was something to look forward to? Let's hope Copernicus can help make it so once again.