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Australian Earth Observing System (AEOS)

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Welcome

Vision

Our vision is for an Earth Observing System for the Australian continent - a truly national research facility to monitor and assess trends, and improve predictions, of Australia's terrestrial biosphere and climate. AEOS would be synergistic with Australia's investment in Earth system modelling via the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS).

Developed by Dr. Helen Cleugh ( CSIRO ), Assoc. Prof. Jason Beringer (ARC network for Earth System Science and MOnash University, Dr. Alex Held ( CSIRO ), Prof. Anne Henderson-Sellers (WCRP)


An Australian Earth Observing System (AEOS)

1. Vision

Our vision is for an Earth Observing System for the Australian continent - a truly national research facility to monitor and assess trends, and improve predictions, of Australia's terrestrial biosphere and climate. AEOS will be synergistic with Australia's investment in Earth system modelling via the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS).

2. Structure

AEOS will comprise the following core elements, with funding to be sought from NCRIS to support the observing and data management systems needed to achieve the goal of a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained observing system for Australia:

§ A national observing system: a hierarchy of measurement and sensor networks, combining in situ and satellite observations (example below) that creates new capacity, national coverage and substantially enhances existing networks and activities in Australia.

§ A distributed data management system: a) the infrastructure and tools needed for data acquisition, quality control, archiving and sharing; and adding value by providing policy relevant products; b) the equivalent for acquiring and archiving retrospective and model-generated datasets.

§ A system of models: AEOS will provide the necessary Earth observations and analyses for ACCESS - within this framework a range of models and tools for gap-filling, data assimilation, diagnostic and predictive modelling will be developed.

Proposed in-situ & remote sensing observing systems for AEOS

1. Hierarchy of in-situ measurement networks

a. Comprehensive : based around the extant networks such as: the AWS network (BoM); baseline monitoring at Cape Grim (BoM, CSIRO); hydrological networks (state and federal; including CSIRO Land and Water’s WRON); the global flask sampling network; and long-term ecological research (LTER) sites.

b. Baseline : sparse, but with sufficient spatial and temporal coverage to capture variability and elicit a clear regional or continental signal. Where possible, supplement existing network infrastructure, e.g. current radiation, aerosol (BoM), stable isotope (ANSTO) and wind (CSIRO ) monitoring networks, with a) meteorological, radiation and atmospheric CO 2 sensors; b) simple measures of surface cover & temperature; soil water & biomass; and c) roving mobile flux (water, CO 2 ) and tall (CO 2 ) towers.

c. Research: a subset of “process laboratories” that expands the current Ozflux4 sites that measure carbon, water and energy fluxes and stores; atmospheric CO2; downwelling and emitted radiances (broadband long- and short-wave; hyperspectral). The Ozflux network would be increased to include urban and agricultural land-use; and select sites equipped to measure non-CO2 GHG fluxes and stable isotopes (18O & 2 H). The network would be a member of Fluxnet – a global network of > 250 flux towers.

2. Satellite Earth Observing Infrastructure

Of strategic importance to Australia is assured, continuous and timely access to current satellite systems, e.g. NASA’s MODIS sensor, and planned systems such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, CALIPSO and passive microwave sensors. On-line products from these systems, such as vegetation indices, albedo, land/ocean surface temperature, soil moisture andcolumn CO 2 , are critical to NWP, climate modelling and regional resource assessments. The following are needed to build an Australia owned and operated Earth observing infrastructure:

a. Contribution towards new satellite sensors : aboard internationally-funded satellites – e.g. AATSR Follow-on on ESA’s ‘Sentinel-suite’ of satellites, or the US proposed “Flora” Satellite.

b. Dedicated, ground-based receiving facilities: one extra X-band receiving station and associated network backbone to complement the 3 extant stations, to ensure development of new real-time satellite image products; access to latest-generation Earth observing satellites; and upgrade current aging infrastructure.

c. Calibration-validation: facilitate targeted activities using in-situ measurement networks. Text Box: Proposed in-situ 
& remote sensing observing systems for AEOS
 1. Hierarchy 
of in-situ measurement networks
 a.   Comprehensive: 
based around the extant networks such as: the AWS network (BoM); 
baseline monitoring at Cape Grim (BoM, CSIRO); hydrological networks 
(state and federal; including CSIRO Land and Water’s WRON); the 
global flask sampling network; and long-term ecological research 
(LTER) sites.
 b.   Baseline: sparse, but with 
sufficient spatial and temporal coverage to capture variability and 
elicit a clear regional or continental signal. Where possible, supplement 
existing network infrastructure, e.g. current radiation, aerosol 
(BoM), stable isotope (ANSTO) and wind (CSIRO) monitoring networks, 
with a) meteorological, radiation and atmospheric CO2 sensors; b) 
simple measures of surface cover & temperature; soil water 
& biomass; and c) roving mobile flux (water, CO2) and tall 
(CO2) towers.
 c.   Research: a subset of “process 
laboratories” that expands the current Ozflux4 sites that measure 
carbon, water and energy fluxes and stores; atmospheric CO2; downwelling 
and emitted radiances (broadband long- and short-wave; hyperspectral). 
The Ozflux network would be increased to include urban and agricultural 
land-use; and select sites equipped to measure non-CO2 GHG fluxes 
and stable isotopes (18O & 2H). The network would be a member 
of Fluxnet – a global network of > 250 flux towers.
  
 2. Satellite Earth Observing Infrastructure
 Of strategic importance 
to Australia is assured, continuous and timely access to current 
satellite systems, e.g. NASA’s MODIS sensor, and planned systems 
such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, CALIPSO and passive microwave 
sensors. On-line products from these systems, such as vegetation 
indices, albedo, land/ocean surface temperature, soil moisture and 
column CO2, are critical to NWP, climate modelling and regional resource 
assessments. The following are needed to build an Australia owned 
and operated Earth observing infrastructure:
 a.   
Contribution towards new satellite sensors: aboard internationally-funded 
satellites – e.g. AATSR Follow-on on ESA’s ‘Sentinel-suite’ 
of satellites, or the US proposed “Flora” Satellite.
 b.  
Dedicated, ground-based receiving facilities: one extra X-band receiving 
station and associated network backbone to complement the 3 extant 
stations, to ensure development of new real-time satellite image 
products; access to latest-generation Earth observing satellites; 
and upgrade current aging infrastructure.
 c.   
Calibration-validation: facilitate targeted activities using in-situ 
measurement networks.

3. Key Benefits and Deliverables to Australia

AEOS will underpin the data and process understanding needed to: i) support sound management of natural resources including water, carbon and nutrient resources for environmental and production benefits; ii) monitor, assess, predict and respond to climate change and variability; iii) improve weather and environmental information and prediction;(iv) support disaster management and early warning systems needed to meet Australia's priorities in national security; and v) ensure that Earth system models used to underpin Australia's policies and commitments to international treaties adequately represent Australian terrestrial ecosystem processes.

4. Objectives and Rationale

AEOS is an Earth observing system for the Australian continent - a truly national research facility that provides the data, process understanding, and models to assess the current state, monitor trends and improve predictions of Australia's terrestrial biosphere and climate. It will be jointly directed by CSIRO (through Drs Helen Cleugh and Alex Held [1] ) and the Universities (through the terrestrial node of the ARC Earth Systems Network (Dr Jason Beringer [2] ). It builds upon proposals for a "Biosphere Observing Facility for Carbon & Water Resources" (upgraded Ozflux [3] ); the recognised need for improved infrastructure to retrieve, archive and share remotely-sensed data; the commitment to international Earth observing programs such as IGOS, GCOS, GTOS and GEOSS [4] and, most importantly, to complement Australia's Earth system model (ACCESS [5] ).

The core objectiveis to rapidly deliver the information and knowledge required to wisely and sustainably use our terrestrial biosphere resources, and to manage the impacts of climate variability and change. We will use long-term (>20 y) environmental satellite-data archives and real-time data, integrated with models, to provide reliable retrospective analyses, near real time monitoring and prospective forecasts of land surface condition, climate properties, atmospheric composition, and fluxes and stores of water, carbon and nutrients by investing in new measurement and data management systems; smart integration of remote and in-situ observing systems; value-added diagnostic tools such as isotopic tracers; and the tools of model - data fusion to improve the quality and certainty of both measurements and models.

Our long-term goalis to operationalize AEOS to support numerical weather prediction (NWP) and climate modelling; environmental monitoring and hydrological forecasting (air quality, wind & energy resources and water availability) and support real-time emergency management (especially floods and bushfires…).

Our rationale mirrors and complements that of GEOSS: comprehensive, coordinated, sustained and high quality observations of the Earth system are critical to monitor current state and trends; improve process understanding; and enhance predictions of Earth system behaviour - including natural disasters. An Australian Earth observing system with similar goals is crucial to support and enhance Australia's investment in Earth system modelling through ACCESS and to address the national research priority of an "Environmentally Sustainable Australia", especially the goals of sustainable water use and land management; reducing and capturing greenhouse emissions; and responding to climate change and variability. Earth observation systems around the globe are currently failing these goals due to poor archiving, quality-control and data sharing systems and the erosion of long-term funding for observing systems. Australia currently lacks the infrastructure and resources to develop and sustain the integrated terrestrial observation network to deliver sustained, quality-controlled, near real time and continuous data to ACCESS and stakeholders in research, government and operational agencies. AEOS would be a suitable Australian contribution to GEOSS and other such global initiatives.

Coordination and Partnerships : Achieving this vision will require a coordinated partnership between CSIRO , Universities, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), ANSTO and ACRES (GA) who provide Australia's research and operational observational capacity. Federal agencies, such as DEH, BRS, AGO and State Depts., are important stakeholders - both as data providers and users of such an integrated system. Preliminary discussions with key partners and stakeholders have been positively received. Formal networks and collaborative arrangements already exist to facilitate the development of the proposal and partnership: e.g. the ARC Earth Systems Network [6] , the BoM Satellite Group and BMRC strongly support the proposal. The AGO also support the initiative - they, along with CSIRO and BoM, co-fund the Australian Climate Change Research Program that delivers much of Australia's climate change and carbon cycle science.


[1] Dr Helen Cleugh (CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research) and Dr Alex Held (CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research; COSSA).

[2] Dr Jason Beringer, Monash University.

[3] http://www.dar.csiro.au/lai/ozflux/index.html . The Biosphere Observing Facility proposal (ARC LIEF) was led by the Universities with CSIRO , ANSTO, AGO and 10 other institutions but was unsuccessful.

[4] The defined purpose of GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems): http://earthobservations.org/

[5] ACCESS: Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator - a joint initiative by CSIRO, Bureau of meteorology and involving Australia's Universities.

[6] ARC Network for Earth System Science: http://www.es.mq.edu.au/physgeog/staff/ap/ACSN/