Landsat In Action - Assessing Global Impact with Alan Belward

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Detailed Description

Alan Belward from the European Union's Joint Research Center discusses how Landsat helps his team promote sustainable development.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:56

Location Taken: Sioux Falls, SD, US

Video Credits

Producer, Steve Young


My name is Alan Belward
and I work at the

European Commission's
joint research center in

northern Italy.
And I head up a group

who are doing knowledge
management for

sustainable development.

Landsat's impact globally I
think, it's partly global,

That's the main thing. It's
everywhere, and has been

for more than 40 years.
The imagery has gotten better,

The measurements have
gotten better over time.

So we can make more and
more specific measurements.

But it's being able to go
back in time for the same

location, with the same
program, that's given us

a tremendous amount of
really valuable information.

On the global level I think
it's set the pace for something

which we call essential
climate variables. This is

information that we need to
measure in order to understand

what's happening to the climate
system, whats happening to

the planet as a whole.
It's not just about climate,

it's about biodiversity,
it's about land degradation,

desertification, it's being
able to compare what's

happening in the United
States with what's happening

in Europe, with Africa, Latin
America, Asia, whatever.

It's having that consistency
of comparison which

is a crucial factor.

It has not happened without
Landsat. No. Because of the

global consistency of the
archive. So you can build

your sampling schemes, but
they will only work if you can

guarantee you're going to
find an image at that sample

point. And with Landsat we
can do that,

because the archive
is so rich.

One of the reasons it's
important is because it

increases the granularity
over time. We get more

measurements over time.
Now that's important because

a lot of the processes that
we're trying to monitor

change rapidly. So if you
can get more measurements,

you get a much finer level
of information. merging the

two data streams allows you
to do that. So it fills gaps.

But it doesn't just fill gaps,
it fills gaps and adds to the

quality of the measurement
and the information that

we're able to get.

The big challenge that we
face is the roughly 140 extra

people on the planet every
minute of the day. That's

extra, more people. And
we're also consuming more.

And yet, that consumption
can only come from one

place. People need to think
about this. And when you

have Landsat, you can actually
show people how we're

changing the face of the
planet. So you can show how

the cities are expanding.
In Europe we lose 1,000

square kilometers of good
land, good soil, every year.

So our cities and our road
networks are expanding

and we can show where
that's occurring

and when it's occurring.