April 12 2011: SYDNEY: Fifty years on from the first space flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, representatives from many of the world’s space agencies are gathered in Sydney for the 34th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment (www.isrse34.org).
From drought to flooding rains, from earthquakes and tsunamis to climate change, our ability to monitor and model the environment in which we live via remote observation including satellite and airborne imaging is critical to our ability to plan for and face the challenges ahead.
Many of the world’s space agencies, including NASA which is the Platinum Sponsor, are represented at ISRSE which runs to April 15 at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. More than 600 of the world’s leading scientists from more than 60 countries have gathered in Sydney for the prestigious Symposium including a delegation of 25 from Japan, many of whom played a key role in predicting, tracking and modelling the devastating impact of the recent Tohoku–Oki earthquake and tsunami.
Dr Mansanobu Shimada, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who was part of the “Earth Observation supporting Disaster Management and Situational Awareness” panel discussion, along with a number of key experts in recent Australian disasters, outlined the importance of remote sensing in full disaster analysis, floating object estimations, and the impact of salt–water covered areas and subsequent crop reduction.
Dr Shimada’s observations of the importance of remote sensing technology in influencing all aspects of life from urban planning to providing accurate modelling and monitoring of the quakes and effective tsunami warning systems prompted the following chilling parallel from Key Note Speaker, Dr Jose Achache, Secretariat Director of GEOSS.
“The 2004 Banda Aceh quake and tsunami took place at a similar distance from the shore, at a similar intensity with an estimated death toll of 170,000. Adjusting that impact for the population of Japan, and we could have seen a possible death toll significantly higher than 500,000 had our ability to predict, monitor and model not improved.”
“The information and technology we have available to us is continually improving, and even in the five years between the Boxing Day tsunami and the events in Japan in March, our ability to pre–warn, react and save lives has improved substantially.”
Doctor Achache said the Symposium’s theme, “the GEOSS Era: Towards Operational Environmental Monitoring”, was particularly salient in helping academics, scientists and governments plan for and make intelligent, uniform decisions and actions.
“As our world population reaches 9 billion, and as our climate continues to warm, we are facing a demanding future with a need for more food, more energy and more water. In order to face these challenges, we need to continue to look for technological solutions in many areas, and, we need to look for and to environmental intelligence solutions.”
BESydney (http://www.businesseventssydney.com.au), a partnership between the NSW Government and the tourism industry, says the Symposium, which will deliver $20million to the local economy, will also strengthen research, educational and commercialisation opportunities for NSW and Australia. This Financial Year alone, BESydney has secured 56 events for Sydney, generating $152million for the state economy, over 50% more than the estimated value achieved over the same period last year – and there’s no sign of a slowdown with 117 major business events, worth $542 million in economic value, confirmed for Sydney until 2017