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Copernicus programme

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in space.


Copernicus programme


What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features, objectives and significance of the programme, wildfires- causes, impact and prevention.


Context: Data from the Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas have been released.

Data have been recorded under the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission.


Key findings:

  • There were almost five times as many wildfires in August 2019 compared to August 2018- 79 000 fires in August this year, compared to just over 16 000 fires detected during the same period last year.
  • 49% of fires were detected in Asia, around 28% were detected in South America, 16% in Africa, and the remaining were recorded in North America, Europe and Oceania.

About Copernicus programme:

  1. Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date.
  2. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
  3. Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.
  4. This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
  5. Services provided by Copernicus: land management, the marine environment, atmosphere, emergency response, security and climate change.
  6. Sentinel: ESA is developing a new family of satellites, called Sentinels, specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The Sentinels will provide a unique set of observations, starting with the all-weather, day and night radar images.


Way ahead:

One of the biggest problems during and after fires is obtaining an overall view of the fires evolution and potential damage. With fires seen from space, Earth observation is also being used to detect and monitor the active spots over affected areas.

Quantifying and monitoring fires is important for the ongoing study of climate because they have a significant impact on global atmospheric emissions, with biomass burning contributing to the global budgets of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide.


Sources: the Hindu.