Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 112

Supplementary evidence from the British Association of Remote Sensing Companies (BARSC)

  BARSC was pleased to receive the Science and Technology Committee's request for more information on how the domain of Atmospheric monitoring could be a UK focus in GMES.

  For programmatic reasons the planning of the GMES atmospheric services lags a little way behind the land and marine services, this therefore opens the possibility for the UK to take a lead role in Atmospheric services. These services would relate to public health information such as sunburn risk and air quality. A trial of this type of service has already been established by a private British company: with ESA funding.

  Improving and extending this type of activity is highly complementary with the meteorological services provided by the MetOffice and in particular the climate change prediction activities of the Hadley Centre. The key to improving air quality services is to combine both satellite and ground based data using modelling and data assimilation techiques. Data assimilation (particularly of atmospheric data) is a significant UK research strength, which is also strongly present within the National Centre for Earth Observation recently established by NERC.

  BARSC would wish to stress the importance of the delivery mechanism for Atmospheric services. Whilst much information would undoubtedly be made publicly available free at the point of use there is also substantial scope for added value personalised and location sensitive air quality services delivered direct to citizens (eg via mobile text message) for which a commercial business model may be appropriate in future.

  UK should therefore claim leadership in the atmospheric services domain of GMES on the grounds of established scientific excellence, alignment with our world leading capabilities in climate forecast and the proven ability in the UK to develop innovative commercial services as and when appropriate.

  It is important to stress that time is of the essence so prompt, decisive and coherent action is required within 2007 to achieve this objective. A successful outcome to such action would correct what BARSC perceives as the previous failure of the UK in so easily conceding the leadership of land and marine services within GMES to other European countries.

May 2007

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