The European Space Agency’s Living Planet Symposium was held May 13th -17th, 2019 in Milan, Italy. This Symposium, held every three years, focuses on how Earth Observation contributes to science and society. Attracting thousands of scientists and data users, ESA’s Living Planet Symposia are among the biggest Earth observation conferences in the world, promoting how Earth observation has played a fundamental role in advancing our understanding of how our planet works.
At this event, scientists presented their latest findings on Earth’s environment and climate derived from satellite data. The event also emphasized Earth observation’s role in building a sustainable future and a resilient society. Participants explored how emerging technologies are revolutionizing the use of Earth observation and how business and the economy can benefit from these advances. NASA Harvest was well represented at the meeting, with high visibility presentations from a range of Harvest partners covering subjects from operational agriculture and land monitoring, yield and area forecasting and estimation, heritage of coarse resolution monitoring, and agricultural information services.
On Monday May 13th, Harvest Chief Scientist Chris Justice presented during a session on “The Heritage of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR): Celebrating the 40-Year Legacy of Land Observations.” This session marked the 40-year anniversary of the launch of NOAA AVHRR with presentations from leading international scientists who paved the way in the field of Earth Observation applications. The AVHRR was the workhorse for coarse resolution agricultural monitoring since the AGRISTARS program in the 1980s, before it was replaced by the NASA MODIS instrument. During this session, Harvest partner Eric Vermote presented a retrospective on the development of atmospheric corrections for global AVHRR time series and showed examples of how the AVHRR long term data record is being used to estimate crop yields.
On the morning of Tuesday May 14th, GEOGLAM held an academic session, titled “From Research and Development to Operational Agricultural Monitoring.” The session was well attended. Presentations included an overview of current GEOGLAM activities from GEOGLAM Director Ian Jarvis; Harvest Program Director Inbal Becker Reshef providing an overview of the Harvest Consortium and its contribution to GEOGLAM; Christina Justice on the development and early success of the GEOGLAM Crop Monitor for Early Warning (CM4EW); Belen Franch on the Remote Sensing Based Yield Model and its application to winter wheat in major wheat exporting countries; and Pierre Defourny and Urs Schulthess on the Sen2-Agri program. During the Tuesday afternoon session “From Agricultural Mapping to Monitoring: Yield Modelling”, Harvest partner Pierre Guillevic presented on an eco-hydrological model to assess water use efficiency and support agricultural resource management. Lucas Barbos of Conab showed the impact of Harvest activities through his poster on national monitoring of maize planted area in Brazil. This operational capacity is the result of training sessions by Harvest and Agricultural Monitoring in the Americas on incorporating the GLAD method for crop area estimation into their monitoring activities.
On Wednesday, May 15th Harvest partner Rogerio Bonifacio of the World Food Programme's Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping Unit presented on the WFP wide area agricultural monitoring in areas with conflict during the “Crop Type Mapping in Humanitarian Emergencies with Sentinel 2” session.
Pierre Sibiry Traore of Manobi Digital Agriculture was a panelist on the Earth Observation for Africa –A Question of Scale Agora ESA session for African stakeholders. A key part of the discussion involved identifying possibilities for enhancing outreach to African users, including downstream development of applications by the private sector.
Harvest partner Steffan Fritz, the head and deputy program director of IIASA’s Center for Earth Observation and Citizen Science (EOCS), attended the Symposium, and his team was represented in a number of presentations ranging from crowdsourcing engagement to spatial accuracy.
On Thursday May 16th, Matt Hansen of Harvest's UMD Hub presented on operational land monitoring and reporting during the “Large Area Land Change Assessments for Sustainability” session. An oil palm map developed by Olha Danylo of IIASA’s EOCS using Google Earth Engine was presented alongside this session. In parallel, the GEOGLAM Executive Committee met the morning of Thursday May 16th to discuss recent developments in the program and plan future steps, including the new capacity development effort (CapDev Team) and the Essential Agricultural Variables for GEOGLAM Working Group, both co-led by Harvest Associate Director & Program Manager Alyssa Whitcraft. The Harvest Consortium and NASA’s Food Security Office were represented by Inbal Becker Reshef, Alyssa Whitcraft, Chris Justice, Catherine Nakalembe, Christina Justice, Sergii Skakun, Bob Tetrault, Pierre Defourny, Lucas Barbosa of Conab, Brad Doorn, and Stephanie Schollaert Uz.