Addressing Grand Challenges in Earth Observation Science: The Earth Observation Data Centre for Water Resources Monitoring
Earth observation is entering a new era where the increasing availability of free and open global satellite data sets combined with the computing power offered by modern information technologies opens up the possibility to process high-resolution data sets at global scale and short repeat intervals in a fully automatic fashion. This will not only boost the availability of higher level earth observation data in purely quantitative terms, but can also be expected to trigger a step change in the quality and usability of earth observation data. However, the technical, scientific, and organisational challenges that need to be overcome to arrive at this point are significant. First of all, Petabyte-scale data centres are needed for storing and processing complete satellite data records. Second, innovative processing chains that allow fully automatic processing of the satellite data from the raw sensor records to higher-level geophysical products need to be developed. Last but not least, new models of cooperation between public and private actors need to be found in order to live up to the first two challenges. This paper offers a discussion of how the Earth Observation Data Centre for Water Resources Monitoring (EODC) - a catalyser for an open and international cooperation of public and private organisations - will address these three grand challenges with the aim to foster the use of earth observation for monitoring of global water resources.