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Earth Observation essential for geohazard mitigation
Date:11/12/2007

Every year geohazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis claim thousands of lives, devastate homes and destroy livelihoods. In an effort to reduce their impact, more than 250 scientists from around the world gathered for a five-day workshop at ESAs Earth Observation Centre in Frascati, Italy, to adopt a declaration for an internationally coordinated programme to help save lives and reduce human suffering worldwide.

Because of their unique, panoramic view from space, Earth Observation (EO) satellites can regularly monitor high-risk regions namely over volcanoes, major landslides and seismic faults. Satellite imagery combined with in-situ measurements make it possible to produce hazard maps, disaster scenarios, forecasts and post-event assessments maps.

"This workshop is very beneficial because it attracts experts from approximately 40 countries in the field of geohazards and allows us to present results of EO applications from our respective countries," Dr Vernon H. Singhroy, Senior Research Scientist at the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, said.

"ESA is leading the way in satellite observations and applications for geohazards," Singhroy continued. "As a community, we learn from the extensive applications of geohazard processes, such as InSAR monitoring, across Europe conducted through ESA programmes.

Data from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instruments like those flown aboard ESAs Envisat and ERS-2 satellites are the basis for a technique called SAR interferometry, or InSAR for short. InSAR involves combining two or more radar images of the same ground location in such a way that very precise measurements down to a scale of a few millimetres can be made of any ground motion taking place between image acquisitions.

Because very small movements can potentially be detected across tectonic plates grinding past one another or the slow 'breathing' of active volcanoes, for example, InSAR has achie
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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