Extreme weather such as hurricanes, floods and even excessive heat or cold claims lives every year. The European body that monitors weather and climate from space has now joined international partners to help prepare for disasters.
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites - Eumetsat - formally became the newest member of the International Charter 'Space and Major Disasters' on 5 July.
Founded by ESA and the French and Canadian space agencies, the Charter is an international collaboration between the owners and operators of Earth observation missions to provide rapid access to satellite data to help disaster management authorities in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
Through the Charter, satellite data were used to create maps and aid rescue efforts following recent disasters such as the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the February 2011 earthquake in New Zealand and the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Eumetsat operates a constellation of meteorological satellites, monitoring the atmosphere, oceans and land surfaces to deliver weather and climate-related satellite data, images and products.
As the charter's newest member, Eumetsat will act as a coordinator for securing access to Eumetsat data for the members and beneficiaries of the Charter and the redistribution of products of the Charter via GEONETCast.
Given that other GEONETCast operational partners, such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are already part of the Charter, Eumetsat's participation demonstrates and ensures full visibility of the cohesive contribution of the meteorological satellite community in support of disaster management, as achieved through GEONETCast.
Eumetsat already provides information to the National Meteorological Services in countries around the globe, supporting their disaster management activities.
Eumetsat is now the 14th member of the Charter. Other recent new members include Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, the German Aerospace Center and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. Russia's space agency has also made a request to join.