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Global Earth Observation System Could Benefit States

Release Date: 08/17/2004
Contact Information:

Contact: Suzanne Ackerman 202-564-7819/

(Washington D.C.-August 17, 2004) EPA Administrator Michael O. Leavitt and Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today discussed the potential benefits to states of the planned Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The proposed world-wide network could help predict natural disasters and save lives.

In April, Administrators Leavitt and Lautenbacher visited Tokyo to participate in the Earth Observation Summit II, where ministers and ambassadors from 44 nations and 26 international groups agreed to work together to create the global monitoring system. Different countries have different systems to gather and process ecological data. Through an unprecedented international collaboration, GEOSS will link data across the world, thereby providing each U.S. state with a more complete picture of global climatic occurrences that impact their area.

Once operational, GEOSS would be capable of continuously monitoring the land, sea and air by linking data from satellites, ocean buoys, and ground-based air and water quality monitors. The tools provided by GEOSS could help states better manage watersheds, improve drinking water quality, protect the food supply, and make transportation systems safer.

It has been estimated that 30 percent of the American Gross National Product is dependent on atmosphere, weather and water data. GEOSS would expand the ability to track and model natural disasters, such as tornados, hurricanes and severe storms. Through earth observations, each state would have near real-time monitoring that would improve storm and hurricane forecasts and dramatically reduce the cost of damage to property and human life.

Ground monitors, models, and satellite images would give emergency responders and relief crews ways to respond faster and save lives. Average annual damage from floods is $5.2 billion. Hurricanes cause an estimated $5.1 billion in losses and tornado losses total $1.1 billion.

At the event today fact sheets detailing the potential value to each state were distributed. That information and other information on GEOSS is now available on EPA's GEOSS web site at:

The United States is scheduled to outline its draft plan by the end of August. In February 2005, the project's international coalition plans to unveil a 10-year plan to accomplish its mission.