Our Earth observation and informatics capabilities underpin our wide array of Earth observation-related science and applications.

The Challenge

Harnessing our capabilities to manage the environment

Earth observation and informatics aligns with the key national strategic research priorities, including: living in a changing environment; managing our food and water assets; and lifting productivity and economic growth.

It also addresses key principles of the Space Utilisation Policy, which include:

  • Space applications that have  significant security, economic and social impact, specifically Earth observation, satellite communications and position, navigation and timing.
  • Ensuring resilient access to those space systems on which we rely now and which are important to our future national security, economic, environmental and social well-being.
  • Strengthening those relationships and cooperative activities on which Australia relies, and will continue to rely to a substantial degree, for space system capabilities.
  • Promoting collaboration between Australian public and private research and development organisations with industry in space-related activity, including space science, research and innovation in niche areas of excellence or national significance.
  • Ensuring Australia’s space capabilities will be used to enhance, and guard against threats to, our national security and economic well-being.

What is Earth observation and informatics?

Earth observation and informatics refers to the acquisition of information about Earth's physical, chemical and biological systems. Earth observation data may be acquired from satellites, airborne platforms, and in-situ measurements on land and in water and the atmosphere. Australia’s Satellite Utilisation Policy states that space-based Earth observation strengthens the nation’s environmental stewardship of its land mass, oceans, territories, and almost half of Antarctica.

The Australian Government currently spends around $100 million per annum on Earth observation from space and associated data processing. There are over 100 active federal and state government programs, representing a further government investment of about $950 million, with direct dependencies on Earth observation data estimated to contribute more than $3.3 billion per annum to GDP.

Information derived from Earth observation data is increasingly used to assist in informing policy across the natural sciences with significant challenges existing in terms of the acquisition, processing, analysis and integration of these rapidly increasing large, robust critical datasets.

We bring together the necessary expertise and critical mass to help develop and deliver information from Earth observations at local, state, national and international levels to significantly enhance the application and impact of Earth observation science and generate environmental, agricultural  and resource  industries development opportunities for Australia.

Our Response

Coordinated Earth observation science

Earth observations and informatics strengthens capacity and underpins strategic research by providing science innovation and improved coordination and coherence in Earth observation and related informatics across CSIRO. We undertake a broad spectrum of activities, from development of new sensing technologies and robust data processing methods to integrated resource and environmental applications and services utilising Earth observation data.

Earth observations and informatics coordinates Earth observation and informatics research groups, and works with other research providers, facilities and networks to meet emerging challenges and thus ensures that CSIRO and Australia is at the forefront of innovation in Earth observation science.

Earth observations and informatics has application in many areas including:

  • agriculture, food, fuels and fibre
  • non-renewable resources (energy and minerals and related environmental issues)
  • water resources (precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, droughts and floods, irrigation and inland water quantity)
  • inland to coastal to marine water quality and related seagrass and coral reef ecosystems
  • habitat metrics and monitoring (terrestrial and aquatic)
  • biodiversity trends and condition
  • biosecurity
  • urban environments
  • climate change and variability, including carbon budgets
  • disaster prevention, monitoring and mitigation (bushfires, floods, spills)
  • logistics.

Our core partners include:

Australian partners: Space Coordination Office – Department of Industry, GeoScience Australia, BoM, DSTO, IMOS, TERN, NCI, University of Queensland, Joint Remote Sensing Research Program (JRSRP).

International partners: GEO, CEOS, APRSAF, European Space Agency, DLR (German Aerospace Laboratories), GFZ (Germany), CNR (Italy), JAXA (Japan), NASA-JPL, NOAA, Chinese Academy of Sciences, WorldBank.

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