Headline : China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods
- The above-average rainfall has led to floods in Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, with Assam being the hardest hit.
- India has acquired satellite imagery related to floods from eight international space agencies, due to its membership of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters.
Note: There is apprehension about further floods, after Bhutan released excess water from Kuricchu Hydropower reservoirs which could lead to rise in water level in seven districts in Assam.
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- United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) was established in 2006 under the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which is the United Nations office responsible for international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space.
- It develops solution to address the limited access developing countries have to specialized technologies that can be essential in the management of disasters and the reducing of disaster risks.
- It facilitates the use of space based disaster management and emergency response technologies.
- The International Charter Space and Major Disasters has been set up under the UN-SPIDER.
About International Charter Space and Major Disasters
- The International Charter Space and Major Disasters is a non-binding charter which provides for the charitable and humanitarian retasked acquisition of and transmission of space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major disasters.
- It was initiated by the European Space Agency and the French space agency CNES after the UNISPACE III conference held in Vienna, Austria in 1999 and it officially came into operation in 2000.
- Since 2000, when the Charter came into operation there have been about 600 activations and data from 61 satellites have helped with disaster operations in 125 countries.
- Every member agency has committed certain resources to support the provisions of the Charter and is therefore helping to mitigate the effects of disaster on human life and property.
How the Charter works?
- Whenever there is a natural disaster, any of the member countries can send a ‘request’ to activate the Charter.
- The Charter seeks the information pertaining to disaster- hit area available with all the 33 member space agencies
- By combining earth observation assets from different space agencies, the charter allows resources and expertise to be coordinated for rapid response to major disaster situations
- ISRO has also provided information to other Space Agencies in response to requests under the charter.
- The National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) represents the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as a member of the charter..
- Due to the heavy floods in India, the Charter was activated on July 17 by NRSC.
- Under the Charter, so far data has been received from 8 countries, including USGS, CNES, ESA, ROSCOSMOS, Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) and 3 others.
- ISRO’s CARTOSAT satellites too got the Indian space agency its own images.
Note: In 2018 also, India had activated the Charter after Kerala was inundated by floods.
Use satellites for Disaster Management
- The data from earth observation and meteorological satellites in conjunction with ground based information, and services derived from communication & navigation satellites are being used towards Disaster Management Support.
- From meteorological satellites: For cyclone tracking, intensity & landfall predictions and forecasting of extreme weather events
- From earth observation satellites: For monitoring disaster events and assessing the damages
- The communication satellites: Help to establish emergency communication in remote and inaccessible areas
- Navigation satellites: For providing location based services
- The Cartosat satellites are a series of Indian earth observation satellites built and operated by the ISRO, as part of Indian Remote Sensing Program.
- The Cartosat-2 series satellites, placed in a sun synchronous orbit, provide high resolution images of earth’s surface.
- The images obtained from these satellites are useful in variety of applications requiring high resolution images, which include cartography, infrastructure planning, natural resources management, disaster management.
- The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO has the mandate to develop the technologies for effective use of remote sensing and GIS based information services for disaster mitigation, relief and management at local/state/central level.