Specialists from various Earth system science disciplines recently gathered to address a major question: what will our environment look like in the future?
Of course, possible answers to this question raise even more questions. For instance, if changing climatic conditions were to alter local vegetation, how would this new landscape react to future climatic trends? Answering these questions with certainty would allow us to manage better our natural resources by defining appropriate planning and mitigation actions.
To be able to identify and analyse long-term climatic trends and changes, it is important to have access to near-continuous data of our planet over long periods of time, which is made possible by Earth-observation (EO) satellites.
These data are being increasingly incorporated in various disciplines as tools to evaluate the current situation and to observe changes that have occurred over the last 30 years, since the mainstreaming of EO data. However, in order to provide better model simulations of our climate and the consequences of human behaviour for climate, the various communities in this field modellers, ecologists, Earth-observation specialists and researchers need to collaborate and merge their research and findings.
The Terrestrial Biosphere in the Earth System (TERRABITES) research network was created to provide a context that facilitates this interdisciplinary cooperation. TERRABITES is funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) programme, financed by the EC and supported by ESA.
Dr Christian Reick, chair of TERRABITES, described the activity as "a cross-disciplinary assessment of our current understanding of the terrestrial biosphere from an Earth system perspective to improve the reliability of future Earth system projections in coupled climate-biosphere simulations."
The first TERRABITES symposium was held last month at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Met
|Contact: Robert Meisner|
European Space Agency