Portugal and the U.S.A cooperate to improve knowledge about data collected via satellites.

The UT Austin Portugal Program and the Earth Observation Laboratory of the University of Coimbra will organise a workshop on November 20 and 21

The main goal of the event “Bridging the Gap: Satellite Data and Models for Local Impact” is to promote terrestrial space observation and data modelling. Over the course of two afternoons, a panel of 15 national and international experts will carry out a training programme to improve knowledge about the use of data from satellites, favouring the effective use of existing resources and products, like Google Earth Engine, and their application in local contexts. Participation is free, but subject to registration and prior confirmation.

With a potential as infinite as Space, the data collected from satellites allow us to understand, analyse, and monitor planet Earth and present solutions to critical challenges. However, there are several challenges to the use of these resources: how to discover and interpret them? How to use data in the design of solutions to address global challenges? How to understand and explore them more effectively by applying them in local contexts?

The UT Austin Portugal Program and the Earth Observation Laboratory (eoLab) of the University of Coimbra joined forces to launch a two-day training workshop. The goal is to exploit the potential of Earth observation and data modelling on a global scale, as this is a key resource to address societal needs and promoting scientific diplomacy.

“This is the second time we collaborate with Professor Vasco Mantas (University of Coimbra, EOLab) and Professor Yang (UT Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences) in organising an Earth Observation workshop. In addition to the clear relevance of the theme of the workshop for the Portuguese scientific and innovation community, the approach proposed by the two coordinators of the workshop allows to mobilise high-level contributions – not only from academia, but also from interface centres, government agencies and entities and companies that work in the so-called New Economy of Space”, said Andreia Passos.

According to the Executive Director of the UT Austin Portugal Program, the workshop takes full advantage of this joint endeavour (bringing the Portuguese scientific ecosystem closer to UT Austin), but also from the diversity of speakers from entities beyond the Partnership’s conventional geography. Experts from ESA, NASA, VITO, the US Embassy, or the University of Waterloo are scheduled to join the thematic sessions of said workshop.

“This workshop, part of the ongoing work in the Space-Earth Interactions area of the UT Austin Portugal Program, is another example of how the cooperation between national institutions and UT Austin can benefit the Portuguese scientific and technological ecosystem. In this case, by improving the capacity to observe terrestrial space, and applying global products and resources to local contexts”, she said.

More specifically, the workshop will explore methodologies and opportunities for using global products, both satellite-based and model-based, for high-impact local applications. Vasco Mantas, scientific coordinator of the workshop, mentioned some examples of the topics: precipitation measurements and analysis of extreme events, hydrological applications, ecosystem management, safety and urban planning. “This workshop will not be purely theoretical. We will favour a more practical component – namely, the presentation of live demonstrations of cloud computing platforms, like Google Earth Engine”.

In addition, all workshop participants will be eligible to participate in a working group that aims to contribute to implementing good practices, advocating for fair access to data and boosting earth-space observation for sustainable development.

The workshop “Bridging the Gap: Satellite Data and Models for Local Impact” is free, and it will take place on November 20 and 21, online. All information about the workshop is available on the UT Austin Portugal Program website.