Earth As A New Frontier

The World-Changing Capability of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)

Intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Logo

GEOSS is turning Earth into a new frontier, driving a deeper understanding of Earth’s complex systems in a way that will greatly improve our predictive capabilities and bring vital societal benefits to people around the globe. The aim is to provide the right information, in the right format, to the right people, at the right time, to make the right decisions. Cutting across borders, sectors and disciplines to open a world of possibilities, GEOSS enables us to envision a world where more people will be fed, more resources will be protected, more diseases will be mitigated or even prevented, and more lives will be saved from environmental disasters.

Such world-changing goals require sound policy based on science derived from more than “snapshot assessments.” With this premise, GEOSS recognizes that no matter how effective and efficient all of our single-purpose Earth observation systems may be, their value multiplies when they can work in synergy.

Imagine the possibilities…

U.S. energy costs are cut by about $1 billion yearly.

Biodiversity data help detect the next emerging diseases.

Drought and stream flow data help manage drinking water.

Air quality effects are predicted in near real-time.

Farmers have immediate access to forecasts key to maximizing crop yields.

Today the many thousands of separate data systems in constant use usually don’t work  together. Decision-makers and users at many levels –  farmers making planting choices, emergency managers making evacuation decisions, companies evaluating prospective building sites, nations battling drought and disease, parents checking daily weather reports – all take advantage of data from satellite remote sensing, aerial surveys, land or ocean-based monitoring systems and a vast array of socio-economic information. But the Earth observation data being collected are just a fraction of what could be put to excellent, perhaps life-saving use in every region of the world.

Without comprehensive, integrated data sets, there are gaps in scientific understanding. Nature doesn’t work just on land, in the sea, or in the atmosphere, and taking the pulse of the planet requires an understanding of the intrinsic links of these Earth systems.

GEOSS is emerging to fill the gaps. With human ingenuity and the political will of over 70 governments, GEOSS is a robust effort dedicated to building an integrated, comprehensive and sustained “system of systems” from many thousands of individual Earth observation technologies around the globe. This essential approach is as integrated as the planet that GEOSS is designed to observe, predict and protect.

U.S. Group on Earth Observations

U.S. Group on Earth Observations

The U.S. is a founding member of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO), which is developing GEOSS. Retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, represents the U.S. and also serves as a GEO co-chair along with South Africa, China and the European Commission. The U.S. Group on Earth Observations (USGEO), a subcommittee of the President’s National Science and Technology Council, coordinates U.S. government participation. USGEO is supported by 15 federal agencies and three White House offices. NOAA has a major stake in national and international Earth observing systems, including IOOS, the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System.