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Fostering research excellence
in EU Outermost Regions

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Earth system & universe sciences

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The OR’s disperse geographical location in the globe provides unique opportunity access data on the Oceans (Indian; Atlantic) and to study its interactions with land, atmosphere and space. The nature of Earth observation and the arrangements for international coordination essential for effective operation of global observing systems are introduced by the Committee on Space Research of the International Council for Science to prepare a roadmap on observation and integrated Earth-system science for the coming ten years (2016-2025). Observations that are organized on a systematic basis and observations that are made for process understanding and model development, or other research or demonstration purposes, are covered. The OR in this context can contribute to the development of Earth system & Universe Sciences in EU due to its geostrategic positioning, as several projects are implemented in the OR on this field.

Challenges:

  • Outermost Regions are facing different kinds of meteorological or geological threats, namely Mayotte and La Réunion with active volcanic activity, the Caribbean OR’s with frequent tropical storms and hurricanes, the Canary with severe forest fires, and the Azores with relevant seismic activity.
  • The importance of enhanced international cooperation in order to build research and innovation partnerships.
  • Due to OR’s vulnerability to climate changes, Global Earth observations are essential to tackle the impacts of the increasingly number and intensity of natural disasters, such as forest fires, sea level rise, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, landslides and other natural disasters.

Assets of the Outermost Regions:

  • The EU will be integrating the challenges faced by the OR into its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, introduced in 2013 and currently being assessed with a view to reviewing it.
  • Due to the low-inclination orbits, satellites can get an energy boost from the Earth’s rotation by being launched near the equator, this is why the European Space Agency launches satellites into geostationary orbits from their facilities in French Guiana.
  • The Azores Government invested in this area creating and specific Spatial Mission Structure (EMA). .Regarding Geophysics, Azores host in Santa Maria the  RAEGE association, a Network of Geodesic stations  aiming to be operational four Geodetic Core Sites, two in Spain (one Gran Canaria) and two in Azores (in Flores and Santa Maria islands), as well Centres for the coordination of activities (one in São Miguel).A Space Port is projected to S. Maria Island (Azores) for serving as small satellites’ launch base. This same island has already an ESA Satellite Tracking Station
  • H2020 projects on Earth system & Universe Sciences area are being implemented in OR, as GREST project, dedicated to develop high end technology, as solar telescopes; advanced detectors; 2D spectro-polarimeters; Liquid-crystal variable retarders, etc., being implemented in Canary Islands, and Marine EO project, where Azores participates through the FRCT coordination that aims to identify services for marine earth observation.
  • PLOCAN is a multipurpose technical-scientific service infrastructure from Canary Islands that provides support for research, technological development and innovation in the marine and maritime sectors, available to public and private users and offers onshore and offshore experimental facilities and laboratories, operational throughout the whole year, due to the excellent climatic conditions.

Fields of investigations/expertise:

  • It’s based in Reunion Island  the Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de La Réunion comprised of 4 geophysical stations: i) the Maïdo observatory for atmospheric observations (being part of European research infrastructures and international networks), ii) the marine station for observations iii) the forest station for ecological observations, and iv) the hydrological station in a drainage basin. A center of quality long-term services that promotes trans-disciplinary researches and a wide international scientific network.
  • In the Azores, the University of the Azores is developing scientific research on different domains (and interactions among domains) of Earth Sciences, namely oceans (OKEANOS research centre), land/coastal (GBA-cE3c and CIBIO-Azores research centres), atmosphere (IITA and IVAR research institutes) and natural hazards (IVAR research centre and CIVISA infrastructure, through an integrated monitoring system).
  • The Azores Government invest in the creation of a Spatial Mission Structure (EMA). Also it is implemented a “ESA_Lab @ Azores” in Terceira island, with the aim of developing and boosting research activities in the areas of space and ocean sciences and technologies, based on joint partnerships among several international actors, in partnership with the AIR Centre and Portugal Space.

The Observatories of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias -the Teide Observatory in Izaña (Tenerife), and the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, in Garafía (La Palma)- are situated at two of the most privileged sites for astronomical observation. Research activity at the IAC is structured around individual astrophysical research projects.These projects are grouped into six global research lines that cover most fields of theoretical, observational or instrumental astrophysics and collaborations with researchers from other centers are recognized and encouraged

Earth system & universe sciences in a few numbers