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Policy projects

Observing the Earth - expert views on environmental observation for the UK

NASA landsat image of the Bristol Channel

09 July 2015

This report contains the considered thoughts of a select group of experts informed by consultation with key stakeholders to give an overview of environmental observation in the UK.

Six commissioned expert papers form the basis for the chapters of the report and divide environmental observation across six domains:

  • climate
  • air
  • oceans and ice
  • land and freshwater
  • natural hazards
  • international

Each chapter provides an overview of the issues as seen from a select group of experts and is not intended to represent the consensus of the community. For each domain the current use technologies is described, as well as the strengths, opportunities and challenges, where the technologies are going in the next 5 to 10 years and how the UK stakeholders can capitalise on these opportunities.

The expert papers highlight a need to think strategically about how to create an integrated system for environmental observation – one that manages the increasing volume of observation data in a way that serves the breadth of uses and users, and allows data to be accessed and processed in a way that creates knowledge to inform policy and action. Key to this capability is a stable, long-term funding commitment and an adequately skilled workforce to ensure that environmental observations are used to their full potential.

This project was commissioned by the Government Office for Science and is intended to inform policy using this powerful new tool. We look forward to the work the Government Office for Science will be doing in this area and hope that this report helps support conversations about how to optimise the use of environmental observation technologies across departments, academia and industry across the UK.