A brief assessment of the state of the Earth system

Global change, deforestation, pollution, and other human interventions transform our planet. This transformation needs to be monitored at the global scale. Over the last decades, ESA has made major efforts to provide comprehensive data streams describing land-surface processes. In particular the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) has produced key variables to monitor essential climate variables (ECVs) such as soil moisture, vegetation states, and land surface temperature, amongst other key processes on land, in the ocean, and the atmosphere that respond to climate variability and interact with it. Today, researchers all over the world can access this treasure chest for answering questions on dynamics and changes of planet Earth such as impacts of droughts on productivity, trends in dryness, and others.

Climatic changes as possible driver of vegetation browning in tropical forests

Ecosystems and climate interact through a complex web of processes involving a multitude of variables. Many of these variables can be measured with satellite sensors and processed to comprehensive datasets in space and time. In the Earth System Data Lab (ESDL) an extensive collection of these datasets are now only a mouse click away. Thus, this cloud-based computing interface provides the ideal environment to study the complex coupling of the climate-biosphere system.

The regional Earth system data lab – an effort to support the Colombian BON

Colombia is the third most mega biodiverse country and a hotspot for biological conservation. This fact has received much attention and also boosted conservation efforts in times where massive land-use changes reflect the societal needs of a nation that has just ended a more than 50 years old civil conflict. In this spirit, GEO-BON (The Group of Earth Observations – Biodiversity Observation Network), and specifically the Colombian BON, has been setting up regional and national networks for testing and implementing regional monitoring biodiversity strategies since 2015. The Colombia BON is led by the Humboldt Institute and as part of its working plan for 2017-2020 is the development of the data cube for Colombia.

Analyzing the effect of heatwaves on forest vegetation in Hainich National Park, Thuringia

The fields of environmental science and remote sensing experience an explosive growth of data. The proliferation of data also give rise to the increasing complexity of data, like diversity, dimensionality and origin. ESA’s Earth System Data Lab (ESDL) is a new virtual lab to explore a wide array of Earth observations across space, time and variables and enabling access, manipulation and analyses different variables.

Analysing the correlations in compound events between the EM-DAT and Earth System Data Lab databases

Climate and weather hazards such as droughts, flooding, wildfires, and storms, are typically strongly inter-connected events. The impacts of these extreme climate and weather events are easily understood by society in terms of the human and economic losses associated with these events. In 2018, for instance, more than 200 people were killed by wildfire and the damages associated with these wildfires was over 16 billion USD. In the same year, the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters also reported that over 5 million people were affected by drought in Kenya and Afghanistan. The same report indicated that within the same period, over 2 million people in Central American were affected by droughts, while across Europe farmers and the health system were not left out from the onslaught of the combination of heatwaves and drought.