Global partnership to share knowledge of Earth
- Global partnership to share knowledge of Earth
CanWest News Service
Friday, November 26, 2004
In scope and scale, it's the geophysical answer to the Human Genome Project: an idealistic partnership of nations that want to pool every scrap of knowledge about the Earth into a free, shared repository to help scientists decipher the future of the planet and humanity.
Proponents believe it could yield enough data to accomplish everything from jaw-dropping improvements in the accuracy of weather predictions to rehydrating desertified lands, or wiping out SARS and malaria.
On Monday, 230 senior scientists and government officials from more than 40 countries and 30 international organizations will meet in Ottawa to put the finishing touches on a mammoth project called the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.
GEOSS will be a leveller -- it will gather rich nations' vast trove of observations about the Earth's atmosphere, lands and oceans collected by innumerable satellites, weather balloons and climate monitoring stations, and share the riches with everyone, including the developing world.
The U.S.-led program is being guided by Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., who is in charge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The plan calls for thousands of new sensors to be laid on the ocean floor, dropped as floating buoys and mounted on commercial aircraft
Participating countries will share whatever they have, and in return receive real-time information tracking the Earth's physical and chemical makeup; conditions at sea, on land and in the air; changes in biology and ecosystems, even health information.
"Long-range forecasting is going to get that much better. And that's just for starters," Douglas Bancroft, director of oceanography for the federal Fisheries Department, explained Thursday.
"Somebody will be able to stand up on television and say, 'the latest forecast from Environment Canada: it looks like 2010 is going to be a strong el Nino year, prairie droughts are expected for southern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba, and in the meantime, the Beaufort Sea is expected to have a significantly increased shipping season as a result of reduced ice in the north."'
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2004
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