Recent Innovations and Expanding Limits of Earth Observations

Authors: Jaclyn Guz*, Clark University, Marc Healy, Clark University, Lyndon Estes, Clark University , Michael Cecil, Clark University
Topics: Remote Sensing, Earth Science
Keywords: Remote Sensing, Earth Observations, spatial and temporal scales
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Harding, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Understanding the Earth System and how it is changing requires observations of socioeconomic and environmental patterns and processes across multiple spatial and temporal scales. These scales span seconds to decades in time, and centimeters to millions of square kilometers in space. Earth Observation (EO, also known as remote sensing) is the only feasible means for providing this range of perspectives, but our ability to collect data across all necessary scales, and then to derive useful information from it is constrained by several important limits. Recent innovations are helping to substantially push back some of these limits, and in doing so offer the potential for making breakthroughs in understanding Earth System dynamics. These innovations include new observational technologies, improved methodologies and analytical frameworks, as well as social and institutional changes. In this review, we examine several recent EO innovations, and identify the specific limitations of EO that these innovations address. To understand how recent innovations are affecting EO we analyzed the resolution, extent, interval, and duration of observations of studies that were published between 2003 and 2017. We then by developed a taxonomy of EO limitations, and then categorize several areas of EO innovation. We identify how these particular innovations push back against these limits, which limits remain unaffected, and, finally, what new limits or challenges arise, or might arise, from these innovations.

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