DE Transitions (Jan-Mar, 2014)

DE Transitions (Jan-Mar, 2014)

Articles in the DE transitions column depict current and new emerging examples of Digital Earth technology, research and strategic policy. Selected online resources, which are listed on the bottom of the article, are being summarized from one perspective of Digital Earth. This quarterly article hopes to bring a greater understanding of Digital Earth progress and trends.

Observations and science researcher’s turn their eyes towards the Earth in 2014, rather than other planets. NASA set up several new missions in Earth science with earth observation technologies to better see how our planetis changing [1]. Measurements on global precipitation for rainfalland snowfall by satellites are able to provide water cycle data which is beneficial for water resource management. An orbiting Carbon satellite is scheduled to be launched for collection carbon data and for understanding climate change. Soil moisture observation will track Earth's water into the soil for predictions of agricultural productivity. While, Copernicus [2] [3], Europe's environment-monitoring mission, begins to monitor and detect environmental changes by specialized satellites from ESA. This environmental monitoring programme is designed to provide timely and accurate observation data by six Sentinel satellites. Land surface, sea ice, oil spills are interested research aspects in detecting and tracking environmental changes. These international projects are giving complex and large data and information with an objectivefor building a new digital earth, since many believes an era of big data iscoming close. Digital Earth has demanding requests to be more conscious to geoand spatial earth data. The core of Digital Earth could be considered as an information-based practice in realm of geosciences and big data. A big climate data initiative,launched by the White House on March, takes account climate data collected mainly by satellite and transfers the data into easy-to-use information.Concerns are largely drawn by government agencies, like NOAA and NASA, but alsoprivate sectors participate actively to response to this call [4] [5].Data is coming in a huge amount like never before, from past and current.Historical earth images still hold research value in terms of comparison studyof urbanization or monitoring changes on the earth[6] [7]. New generated earth observation data is increasingly aggregating to unaccounted numbers due to more planned EO satellite launchings. A real-time EO data featured byimaging satellite constellation could provide greater imaging data for monitoringthe earth [8] [9]. Position data and information will be quickly andprecisely retrieved from more choices of position systems [10] [11].The change of data starts to trigger new ways of scientific reaches. New datamodel, multi disciplines data protocol, data interoperated standards arepriorities to think about. One good example is, OGC issues formation of a new workinggroup to explore and propose standards for interoper ability through the use of Discrete Global Grid Systems [12]. As another example, datasets generatedfrom OGC data model – netCDF - are being used for the report of IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change [13].

It is an impressive Digital Earth to witness data captured from challenging observation,information analyzed by precise measurement and a powerful online platform formap distribution. Airborne Earth observations fly over the top of this planet,the Himalayan and Everest for the first time, by the German scientist. This MountainWave Project lead by DLR [14] is able to offer a resolution of 20 centimeters optical data, which will be eventually deployed for 3D modeling of the mountainous regions. NASA and JAXA start a way of measuring global Precipitation from the space,since the satellite images are captured and released publicly from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) project [15]. Identifying rain andsnow type, structures and rate is not only benefiting weather forecast, butalso leveraging researches on global water cycle and the Earth system. Emergency management websites becomes informative covering latest available informationon earthquakes, floods, volcanoes and wildfires, and other hazard information [16].Based on online maps, it offers possibilities to share a picture of current natural hazards with the public, scientists and government agencies.

Recently a hot topic is about the flight disappearance trying to be figuredout by earth observation images [17]. Although no determined location is identified where Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been missing since March 8, remote sensing play a key role in the flight’s disappearance by searching on high resolution images. Commercial EO companies have releasedimagery over the search area in a quick response. Crowd sourcing platforms are deployed online for adding suspense information to pixels by millions of volunteers.The experience demonstrates the unparalleled geographic reach and persistence that satellite imagery provides for critical government missions and emergency response situations.

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[1] NASAset for a big year in Earth science with five new missions

[2] Gearingup for a new era in Earth observation-EU

[3] Big year for European space activities: ESA

[4] WhiteHouse Launches Big Data, Privacy Review

[5] FACTSHEET: The President’s Climate Data Initiative: Empowering America’sCommunities to Prepare for the Effects of Climate Change

[6] TheNewest Oldest Data from Seasat’s Synthetic Aperture Radar

[7]NASA Historic Earth Images Still Hold Research Value

[8]Planet Labs Set To Launch Largest Satellite Fleet In History

[9]SkyboxImaging selects SSL to build 13 Low Earth Orbit imaging satellites

[10]NewGalileo station opend in Azores

[11]First GLONASS satellite in 2014 put in orbit

[12] OGC Announces NewDiscrete Global Grid Systems Standards Working Group

[13] OGCnetCDF: Powerful Tool for Science

[14]Dept of Interior Map Provides Ongoing Awareness of NaturalHazards

[15]FirstImages Available from NASA-JAXA Global Rain and Snowfall Satellite

[16]Glaciersand mountains in 3D – DLR special camera flies over Himalayas for first time

[17]MH370:DigitalGlobe Provided Imagery to Australian Maritime Safety Authority

MH370:Thai satellite spots 300 objects in jet search

MH370:China deploys 21 satellites in search for missing plane

MH370:SatelliteImage Companies Rush Imagery to Analysts Searching for MH370