Every year in the developing world, malnutrition and infectious diseases kill between 10 and 15 million children, while agricultural pests such as the desert locust destroy thousands of crop acres, ruining livelihoods and threatening regional food security. These are climate-sensitive issues. While their extent and intensity depend largely on poverty, they are often triggered by environmental factors such as rainfall, temperature and vegetation conditions. Monitoring changes in these conditions can therefore help decision makers in agriculture and health ministries assess risk levels and act accordingly.
Remote sensing is the science of deriving information about the Earth's surface and atmosphere using images acquired from an overhead perspective--using satellites or aircraft, for example. Monitoring environmental factors using remotely sensed data present certain advantages over ground measurements, especially in regions where ground data are scarce. The remote observations are generally high-resolution, available in almost real-time, and provide consistent measurements over large regions.
The goal of IRI's Environmental Monitoring Program is to provide its clients and partners with state-of-the-art data to facilitate their work in climate-sensitive sectors such as health and food security. Through exhaustive, rigorous evaluation and interpretation of available satellite products, the program staff ensures its partners have access to the most reliable and relevant information, in a format that best informs their decision making and planning. The IRI also provides classroom facilities and computer resources for remote sensing experts to train partners on innovative uses of products the institute has developed.
We currently focus on satellite-derived estimates of vegetation, rainfall, surface temperature, humidity and atmospheric dust. Ultimately, these products are integrated into operational early-warning systems for health , pest management and fire risk. The menu to the left shows our program's current focus.