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Contributions of Land Remote Sensing for Decisions About Food Security and Human Health: Workshop Report: Committee on the Earth System Science for Decisions About Human Welfare
National Academies Press | ISBN: 0309102952 | 2006-12-13 | PDF (OCR) | 112 pages | 4.75 Mb
Contributions of Remote Sensing, Geographical Sciences Committee, National Research Council
Analyses of remotely sensed observations from aircraft and satellite provide information regarding changes in the Earth's surface and atmosphere, including changes in land cover, sea surfaces, temperatures, and many other terrestrial, marine, and atmospheric variables. Remotely sensed data can provide spatial and temporal information necessary to address some of the most challenging issues related to society's health and well-being. Although remotely sensed data are combined with other data types for purposes such as weather forecasting, remotely sensed observations of the land surface are not routinely applied to decisions about human welfare.
This report summarizes a two-day workshop on the contributions of land remote sensing to human welfare decisions. The National Research Council, at the request of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, organized an ad hoc committee to plan the workshop. The committee's charge was to conduct a workshop on the contributions of remotely sensed data to land use and land cover change analyses and on ways to use the physical, biological, temporal, and social characteristics of particular locations to support decisions about human welfare. Topics covered were to include (1) how to effectively use remote sensing, in combination with other types of data to forecast ecological and social repercussions of changes in land use and land cover; (2) usefulness of land remote sensing for improving human welfare; (3) technical issues of integrating disparate data (e.g., different remote sensing platforms at different temporal and spatial scales, ground-based scientific data, and socioeconomic data) into decision support systems that address human welfare; and (4) trends in research and data availability that enable decision support systems and processes to use remotely sensed land data.
As focal points for the workshop, the committee selected two aspects of human welfare in which remotely sensed environmental conditions play a key role: human health and food security. These two aspects were selected to represent a range of existing experience within the scientific and policy communities on the applications of remote sensing. The application of remote sensing to food insecurity is relatively mature. Application to human health has received less attention and research efforts are beginning to emerge. The ability of land remote sensing to identify variables such as land cover, responses of vegetation to climate variability, and locations of human infrastructure provides critical information in forecasting and determining appropriate responses to disease outbreaks, food shortages, and other consequences for vulnerable populations. Applications of land remote sensing to monitor crop yields, enable precision agriculture, and identify impending food shortages in developing countries offer successful examples. The use of remote sensing data for human health is not as advanced as for food security beyond a few case studies, although workshop participants believe the potential is great.