EU brings Copernicus Earth observation program to Philippines

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
EU brings Copernicus Earth observation program to Philippines
Combining high-resolution and novel multispectral capabilities, a swath width of 290 km and frequent revisit times, the new Sentinel-2 mission offers views of Earth’s changing lands in unprecedented detail.
European Space Agency, Released

MANILA, Philippines — The European Union Delegation to the Philippines on Monday introduced the regional bloc's Earth observation program, which is seen to help the country mitigate climate change impacts and improve security for communities faced with the threat of natural disasters.

Copernicus is EU’s Earth observation program. It uses satellites to monitor the Earth and provides high resolution imagery daily.

Copernicus provides free-of-charge operational services in the areas of atmosphere monitoring, marine environment monitoring, land monitoring, climate change, emergency management and security.

“The Copernicus program is the foundation of EU’s effort to monitor the Earth from space to ensure that citizens in Europe and across the world are prepared and protected in the face of crises and natural disasters, and government institutions, international development partners in the private sector become more effective in understanding our planet and sustainably manage the environment we live in,” Franz Jessen, EU ambassador to the Philippines, said.

Jessen said the system is of “particular relevance” to the disaster-prone Philippines as its data can help in handling issues such as natural disasters, climate change, deforestation, pollution and food security.

“In the Philippines, we are very used to different types of natural disasters and Copernicus can actually help to mitigate the effects of those disasters,” Jessen said.

The Philippines, located in the Pacific “ring of fire” and “typhoon belt” placed third in the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment 2017 World Risk Report of countries that are at highest risk of natural disasters.

Copernicus, which became operational in 2014, is managed by the European Commission and implemented in partnership with the European Space Agency, the EU member states, the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and Mercator Océan International.

ESA is developing Sentinels, a new family of satellites, for the operational needs of the Copernicus program. 

The Sentinels provide set of observations that include, all-weather, day and night radar images, high-resolution optical images for land services, data relevant to the ocean and land and atmospheric composition. 

The program is named after Polish mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who formulated a heliocentric model of the universe.

Satellite data in public safety, preservation of sovereignty

Aside from helping mitigate the impacts of climate change and achieve food, water and energy security, satellite data can also be used in guaranteeing public safety and preserving the national and territorial sovereignty, the National Security Council said.

Vicente Agdamag, NSC deputy director general, said both the police and the military can become proactive in dealing with threats through satellite data.

“Satellite data is useful in guaranteeing public safety by monitoring threat groups and tracking the severity of criminal activities. It can also monitor development of man-made crises and emergencies such as terrorist attacks, incidence involving the use of chemical or biological or nuclear weapons and various times of mass upheavals,” Agdamag said.

The national security official added that satellite data can be used in monitoring the country’s seas such as the Sulu Sea, the Celebes Sea and the disputed West Philippine Sea as well as visualizing the country’s maritime domain.

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