Examination of Witnesses (Questions 357
WEDNESDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2007
Q357 Chairman: We welcome Matthew
Stuttard, Professor Duncan Wingham and Professor Shaun Quegan.
It is nice to see you all again and particularly you, Shaun. Last
time we met was up in Sheffield. Could you introduce yourselves,
Mr Stuttard: I am Chairman of
the British Association of Remote Sensing Companies. That is the
capacity in which I am here. That is not my job, though. It is
a voluntary post.
Professor Wingham: I am Head of
Earth Sciences at University College London. I direct one of the
NERC observation centres, CPOM, and I am the lead investigator
on the CryoSat mission.
Professor Quegan: I am the Director
of one of the NERC centres for terrestrial carbon dynamics. I
am a co-proposer of the proposed ESA Biomass mission.
Q358 Adam Afriyie: There seems to
have been quite a lot of criticism of the link between government
departments' aspirationsor their hopes forobservation
projects. I note that Professor Quegan has been particularly vocal
on the subject and the National Physical Laboratory also. I think
these are your words, Professor Quegan, that a clearer definition
of common aims or aspirations for space data are required. First,
what are the limitations and benefits of earth observation, before
tackling some of those criticisms?
Professor Quegan: That is a very
big question. There is a whole range. One of the main areas is
in environmental diagnosis and environmental monitoring. We are
in a changing planet. The only way we are going to find out about
that planet basically is from space. If you do not have that system
in space, you can forget much of the planet realistically. There
has to be that global scale. From that global scale spins down
the requirements for people to know about things and to understand
what is going on. It is the basis on which you make policy presumably
and decisions about how you are going to manage the environment
in which we are living. If you spin down to a local scale, there
is a whole range of observations you can make which are relevant
to the way people live their lives to do with; for example, hydrology,
snow cover, and cover temperatures. That is all available from
Q359 Adam Afriyie: Basically is it
a very broad spectrum of earth information and of policy making
objectives that can be met by observing earth from space?
Professor Quegan: Yes.