What do they do? (Part 2)

5 examples of what EU research and innovation projects have done for you lately

Eyes in the sky

We are facing unprecedented global challenges. In order to evaluate these adequately, a birds-eye view is often needed. The EU has gone one better and is utilising a flock of satellites to give us information on a large variety of factors affecting our environment and our societies.

One such factor is air pollution, which is a serious detriment to the health of EU citizens. Every year in Europe alone, over 400,000 people die prematurely due to pollution in the air they breathe. This issue is rightly gaining more and more attention; and in order to monitor and design effective policies, the Copernicus satellite programme contributes to air pollution mapping.

Another area is agriculture. The EU’s agricultural policies increasingly aim to foster the development of sustainable practices that preserve the environment. To this end, Copernicus’s satellites help assess the impact agricultural land use has in areas such as biodiversity and water use. This can then be used to help public authorities and farmers improve irrigation efficiency, for example. Copernicus can also help monitor crop conditions and provide yield forecasts.

When imaging forests, Copernicus can detect the type of forest, and monitor changes such as deforestation. This will assist the reporting of countries’ progress towards their international commitments such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Copernicus also contributes to the sustainable management of marine resources. It can monitor phytoplankton, pollutants, water temperature, etc. This permits more efficient fishing, pollution monitoring and the placement of fish farms. Further applications of Copernicus can be found here.