Featured: Food and Satellites: Keeping An Eye On Food Production

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From: Kirk
With a growing global population ensuring food security in the world's poorer countries is a major concern – one that is being eased the help of data from Earth observation satellites such as Envisat.Data on the climate and vegetation cover collected by ESA’s Earth observation satellites are proving to be an invaluable tool to fight food scarcity. With the aid of Earth observation data, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations state that, in Ethiopia there has been four successive years of increased cereal production. This shows that Earth observation data is leading to better understanding of the conditions that affect crops and grazing pastures, both fragile but vital components in African food production.At the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, satellite data are used to follow vegetation coverage and weather conditions virtually in real-time. That gives scientists a valuable forecasting tool and to some degree, an early-warning system. In addition, at ESA's Centre for Earth Observation just outside Rome, satellite data are being used to map vegetation coverage on an unprecedented scale. This map provides the FAO and the UN with a precise and up-to-date view of global vegetation coverage.
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