Exploring new hyperspectral and thermal sensors for drought monitoring in Africa

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Published on 23 September 2022

Earlier this week, ESA officially kicked off the EO AFRICA EXPLORERS project. The main aim is to use ECOSTRESS and PRISMA data for developing, implementing and validating innovative and experimental algorithms for drought monitoring. 

Droughts are considered the most relevant hazard in terms of economic losses in many areas around the globe, and particularly on the African continent. In order to create resilient and productive agricultural systems, there is a clear need for efficient tools to monitor and predict (1) the occurrence of droughts and (2) their impact on agricultural productivity. 

EO AFRICA EXPLORERS is part of ESA’s EO AFRICA Initiative and will focus on products delivering large-scale information on Ecosystem water stress, as well as detailed information on plant water stress at field level. The results of this project will flow into recommendations for the design of the Sentinel Expansion missions.

Overview of African stakeholders involved in the project.

EO AFRICA EXPLORERS aims at building a solid African-European collaboration, enabling an active research community and creative innovation processes for a continuous development of EO capabilities in Africa. Therefore, an important part of the project is the active involvement of African stakeholders within the entire process, including product definition, development and validation. Five main stakeholders have already been identified with whom we will closely collaborate throughout the project (AGHRYMET, AAH, RCMRD, AfriGEO, AKTC). These parties have all acknowledged the added value of drought monitoring tools in their day-to-day work and have also agreed to provide valuable in-situ information that will help us validate our algorithms and products. In the end, the new drought monitoring products will be implemented on the Food Security TEP platform, allowing it to be accessed by a wider community of potential end users.

VITO Remote Sensing will focus on the close interaction with the African stakeholders and co-development of innovative products based on thermal (ECOSTRESS) data. 

ESA's EO AFRICA EXPLORERS project has been kicked off on 20 September 20, 2022 and will run over a course of 2 years until October 2024. The project is led by VISTA in cooperation with LIST and VITO Remote Sensing. Stay tuned for more updates as we progress through this exciting new opportunity!