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The Philippines to Use Space Data for Climate Information

Dr Gay Jane P. Perez, Deputy Director-General for Space Science and Technology at the Philippine Space Agency addresses the country’s growing vulnerability to climate change using space data collected by the agency’s sovereign satellites, curated satellite data sources, ground stations, and high-performance computing systems.  She added that data is readily accessible, and the technical capacity to house this data exists, but the issue lies in translating this data into useful insights.

To realise the economic value, we must maximise what we can get from space data, such as maps, forecasts, and advisories that serve as an impetus to actionable insights that benefit our end-users, such as our fishermen or farmers.

– Dr Gay Jane P. Perez, Deputy Director-General, Space Science and Technology, Philippine Space Agency

An important part of space data mobilisation is a needs assessment, which is being done right now through the 2021–2030 Decadal Survey. This survey has brought together scientists and people from the public and private sectors in the country to identify the most important challenges and goals in Earth observation and other satellite applications for the next ten years.

The results of the Decadal Survey will be used to figure out what the most important and urgent problems in the country are and what the most important and urgent space missions should be. The survey focuses on six categories, including :

  • Hydrologic Cycles and Climate Studies
  • Weather, Air Quality, and Atmospheric Processes
  • Earth Surface and Interior: Dynamics and Processes
  • Hazards and Disaster Risk, Reduction, and Management
  • Aquatic Ecosystems and Water Resources Management
  • Terrestrial Ecosystems and Land Resources Management

Furthermore, PhilSa produces programmes that directly improve the capability to utilise Earth Observation data by analysing the requirements and existing capabilities.

ISKUELA, or Inclusive SSTA Know-how Utilisation, Exchange, and Localisation Activities is one of the activities that PhilSA has implemented to utilise and cascade EO data. ISKUELA is comprised of numerous initiatives and activities designed to educate and strengthen the capacity of partners from academia, industry, media, communities, and the public sector on how to use space data for their purposes.

The Space Information Infrastructure Capacity Building and Training Programme is one of these projects, with the goal of increasing awareness and understanding of space information infrastructures and their applications through webinars, short courses or even resource person support. The project has successfully held two webinars, with students, researchers, and representatives from various local government units participating.

PhilSA also hosts maps derived from space data via the Space Data Dashboard, which was developed collaboratively by PhilSA, DOST-ASTI, and the STAMINA4Space Programme. The dashboard includes publicly available satellite data maps of ship traffic, air quality, water quality, and night lights.

The agency hosts an annual Space Data Dashboard Media Workshop to help the public understand these open maps. Journalists are taught to navigate and produce articles using space data. PhilSA hopes to expand the workshop to include training for campus journalists.

It has been realised that there are still gaps in how space data is used to act on climate change. One way to close this gap is to improve how space science is taught and communicated. It is also important to reach out to a wide range of people and groups to show how using information from space to deal with uncertainties in the environment can be helpful.

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