Space now frontline in climate fight

The UK Space Agency has announced a new initiative which is designed to use space to provide businesses, including insurers, and other organisations with information about environmental risks and how to mitigate them.

The organisation has revealed it has agreed to provide funding for 10 new projects that will use Earth observation tools, satellite tracking and data on population demographics, supported by Artificial Intelligence (AI), to produce forecasts and models that can be used by sectors ranging from agriculture and energy, to finance and insurance.

“These applications will not only allow businesses, governments and others to understand and mitigate risks, but they will also help identify opportunities for green financing that could support sustainable business growth,” the agency said in a statement.

UK minister of state at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology George Freeman MP, explained: “The great challenges of our time need bold solutions and from tackling water pollution to carbon emissions and biodiversity threats, the unique perspective that space provides can play a major role in securing the health of our planet and people.

“By backing UK innovators to make the most of modern technology including satellite data, AI, and Earth observation, we are also supporting businesses up and down our country to grow our economy while driving forward our ambition to make the UK a major player in space.”

benefits to a wide range of users both within and beyond the space sector.”

Each project will receive a funding injection to begin development next month on services to produce the most up to date view of environmental contexts possible with available Earth observation data, including methane and nitrous oxide emissions, watercourse resilience, biodiversity changes and the infrastructure of decarbonising technologies.

One application by EOLAS Insight will develop a mapping and reporting service focused on watercourse resilience, helping businesses understand the effects of global temperatures on crucial local watercourses and the benefits of investing in mitigation strategies, such as riverside woodland schemes.

A project by Omanos Analytics, will generate social context data about the nuanced impact of climate change issues on different demographic groups, such as women, allowing for the development of more integrated, whole-of-community approaches to environment-related issues and planning.

Other projects include the Brighton-based Recycle2Trade project to monitor environmental sites, Aberdeen-based TrackGenesis’ Demeter project to combine Earth observation and Global Navigation Systems to support food production in a changing climate and Edinburgh-based Trade In Space’s project looking at deforestation connected to smallholder farming.

Dr Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, explained: “The UK has a long history of expertise and innovation in Earth observation, developing satellites to collect increasingly detailed data and using that information to build services that help protect our planet.

“This targeted funding for early-stage innovations is all about supporting fresh ideas and accelerating the rollout of powerful new tools that have the potential to bring benefits to a wide range of users both within and beyond the space sector.”