Satellites Can Spy a Menace in West Africa: Invasive Flowers


Whereas the satellite tv for pc pictures give a regional perspective, Ovienmhada’s drone photographs supplied detailed views of focused areas. She additionally took a ship into the lake, stopping right here and there to take water high quality measurements with sensors.

Utilizing all this knowledge, Ovienmhada was in a position to present that, regardless of some annual variation, the water hyacinth downside was certainly worsening, on common masking an increasing number of of the lake annually. The undertaking additionally produced a web based instrument that helps GKA plan the place they’ll harvest, estimate how many individuals and the way a lot cupboard space they want, and assess how nicely they’re stopping the plant from spreading excessively.

SERVIR, which launched in 2004, is making such tasks attainable. This system (Spanish for “to serve”) helps native governments and communities to utilize satellite tv for pc knowledge to handle environmental threats and reply to pure disasters. “Nations everywhere in the world may use the info. NASA had the info and the know-how. How do you carry these two collectively?” asks Daniel Irwin, SERVIR international program supervisor and analysis scientist at NASA Marshall Area Flight Middle in Alabama. Irwin emphasizes that native specialists, not embedded NASA officers, design these tasks. 

SERVIR at the moment has 5 regional hubs, certainly one of which is in West Africa. The others are in Japanese and Southern Africa, the Amazon, the Hindu Kush, and the Mekong, they usually could add extra, corresponding to in Central America. This system doesn’t have its personal spacecraft, nevertheless it makes use of knowledge collected by a wide range of NASA satellites, in addition to some from the European and Japanese house businesses and, lately, business ones, corresponding to from San Francisco–primarily based Planet Labs. “We’re energy customers of Landsat,” Irwin says, referring to a sequence of satellites developed by NASA and the US Geological Survey which were orbiting the globe since 1972. (Ovienmhada and Wooden’s work benefited from these older Landsat pictures.)

The most recent spacecraft in that household, Landsat 9, simply launched final month. Like its predecessor, which remains to be in orbit, it offers pictures that every signify an space that’s about 180 kilometers on a aspect, with every pixel masking an space 30 meters per aspect. “We get actually great-quality knowledge each eight days. That’s going to be a boon, particularly for water high quality purposes,” says Jeffrey Masek, the Landsat 9 undertaking scientist at NASA Goddard Area Flight Middle in Maryland. The scope and determination of the photographs have proved helpful not only for Ovienmhada’s evaluation, but in addition for different tasks mapping algae blooms, or monitoring and forecasting droughts and floods. Different SERVIR tasks have used Landsat knowledge to map and monitor deforestation, lack of rangelands, crop yields, and wildfires.

A water hyacinth infestation on Lake Nokoué in Cotonou, Benin.{Photograph}: Danielle Wooden and Ufuoma Ovienmhada
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