Traditionally, drought is managed by analyzing rainfall, temperature, and soil moisture from meteorological stations. However, earth observation from space can now provide better alternative measurement. It provides spatial resolution covering large areas and likewise matches new information with long-term records for data continuity.
This technology, called the Copernicus programme, was recently launched in the country by the European Union through a conference dubbed as "National Conference on Copernicus Systems and Applications". The event served as a platform to enable the public to learn how the Copernicus Programme – its depth of data, range of services, and technological expertise – can be applied in the Philippines and help Filipinos see its full potential.
Copernicus is a system that can provide timely and free satellite-based data that can enhance the capacity of governments in terms of agricultural monitoring and early-warning. The comprehensive spatial data it collects can lead to more effective detection of potential drought conditions, among other applications.
An important component in international cooperation, the Copernicus technology supports EU’s role as a global leader in environmental protection and is contributing to providing solutions to common global challenges. In his welcome address, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said “Not all countries are able to put in place a comprehensive space infrastructure. It is expensive. It takes experts—a large number of experts—hence, the availability of European space data and the data from other nations are fundamental to make sure you are operating on the best available information.”
National Security Council of the Philippines and Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon in a speech delivered by Deputy Director General Vicente Agdamag, mentioned that the country should harness satellite technology to protect the Filipinos not only from climate change but also from health and security hazards.
Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum added that as the country is home to many natural hazards, analyzing the risk and understanding technology solutions can help Filipinos avoid disasters, if not prevent these from happening.
One of the technical experts, Dr. Alice Laborte of the International Rice Research Institute, presented the Remote Sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging Economies or RIICE. The project aims to reduce the vulnerability of rice smallholder farmers by making use of satellite data to map and observe rice growth in selected regions. The information helps governments to make the necessary provision to meet potential food shortages and help stakeholders involved in rice production to better manage the risks.
To showcase the on-going application of Copernicus, Paolo Corradi from European Space Agency (ESA) presented how satellite data is supporting research on marine litter by providing expeditions to the huge ocean garbage patches with forecasts of sea currents and sea-surface heights. This will help vessels locate areas where plastic litter is concentrated. He stressed that Copernicus can support in fighting maritime debris, especially the micro-plastics or tiny fragments of plastic which are becoming a bigger problem.
In addition to determining upcoming rainfalls, temperature variations, and marine litters, Copernicus data has many innovative applications and services that can be tailored to the needs of specific groups of users, and covering a variety of economic and developmental activities from urban planning to disaster reduction and management.
Building on the foundations of deeply- rooted scientific knowledge and on decades of EU investment in research and technological development, Copernicus is exemplary of European strategic cooperation in space research and industrial development. Since its operation in 2014, the European Union has already invested €9.6 billion in the programme with an additional €5.8 billion allocation proposed for 2021 – 2027. The programme is generating economic benefits exceeding the investment not to mention the non-monetary benefits.
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About the Copernicus Programme
Copernicus is a European Union Programme aimed at developing European information services based on satellite Earth Observation and in-situ (non-space) data. The Programme is coordinated and managed by the European Commission. It is implemented in partnership with the Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), EU Agencies and Mercator Ocean.
Copernicus has been specifically designed to meet user requirements. Based on satellite and in-situ observations, the Copernicus services deliver near-real-time data on a global level which can also be used for local and regional needs, to help us better understand our planet and sustainably manage the environment we live in. For more information, visit https://www.copernicus.eu/en.
For information on the Conference, please contact:
For information or questions on Copernicus Technologies and the EU Delegation to the Philippines, please contact:
Public Affairs Officer
EU Delegation to the Philippines
Programme Manager Environment & Climate Change
EU Delegation to the Philippines