Space-driven climate services to tackle environmental risks
Ten new projects will use Earth observation tools, satellite tracking, and data on population demographics, supported by artificial intelligence (AI), to produce forecasts and models that can be used by sectors ranging from agriculture and energy, to finance and insurance.
Funded by the UK Space Agency, these applications will not only allow businesses, governments, and others to understand and mitigate risks, but they will also help identify opportunities for green financing that could support sustainable business growth.
Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology George Freeman MP, said: “The great challenges of our time need bold solutions and from tackling water pollution to carbon emissions and biodiversity threats, the unique perspective that space provides can play a major role in securing the health of our planet and people.
“By backing UK innovators to make the most of modern technology including satellite data, AI, and Earth observation, we are also supporting businesses up and down our country to grow our economy while driving forward our ambition to make the UK a major player in space.”
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK has a long history of expertise and innovation in Earth observation, developing satellites to collect increasingly detailed data and using that information to build services that help protect our planet.
“This targeted funding for early-stage innovations is all about supporting fresh ideas and accelerating the rollout of powerful new tools that have the potential to bring benefits to a wide range of users both within and beyond the space sector.”
Each project will receive a funding injection of up to £55,000 to begin development in September on services to produce the most up to date view of environmental contexts possible with available Earth observation data, including methane and nitrous oxide emissions, watercourse resilience, biodiversity changes and the infrastructure of decarbonising technologies.
One application by EOLAS Insight Ltd will develop a mapping and reporting service focused on watercourse resilience, helping businesses understand the effects of global temperatures on crucial local watercourses and the benefits of investing in mitigation strategies, such as riverside woodland schemes.
A project by Omanos Analytics, meanwhile, will generate social context data about the nuanced impact of climate change issues on different demographic groups, such as women, allowing for the development of more integrated, whole-of-community approaches to environment-related issues and planning.
The total £530,000 funding represents the second tranche of investment by the UK Space Agency directly into climate services development. It follows an £85,000 pot awarded earlier this year, which was split between nine UK organisations, including some of these projects in their earlier stages of idea development, which used UK Space Agency funding to demonstrate the potential of their business ideas.
Other projects from this call include the Brighton-based Recycle2Trade project to monitor environmental sites, Aberdeen-based TrackGenesis Ltd’s Demeter project to combine Earth observation and Global Navigation Systems to support food production in a changing climate and Edinburgh-based Trade In Space’s project looking at deforestation connected to smallholder farming.
The list of funded projects includes the following:
Agreed Earth Ltd, Bolton
Earth observation and machine learning-based solution to remotely model and monitor nitrous oxide (a potent greenhouse gas) emissions from agricultural lands, giving farmers the opportunity to fully understand and optimise their nitrogen use.
EOLAS Insight Ltd, Glasgow
Automated mapping and reporting service for watercourse climate resilience to help organisations understand the effects of global temperatures on crucial local watercourses and the benefits of mitigation strategies, such as riverside woodland schemes.
Cloud-based service that will enable corporations and financial institutions to undertake a low-cost, rapid assessment of their climate impact focusing on biodiversity and nature-related, risks, dependencies, and opportunities.
Map Impact Ltd, Bristol
Catchment-wide view for freshwater management, using multiple data sources to provide an up-to-date picture of climate change and pollution impacts to help communities to forecast future events and outbreaks and, mitigate risks that threaten habitat biodiversity and human health.
Sparkgeo UK, Edinburgh
Automated methane monitoring service to allow stakeholders the ability to measure and monitor emissions of methane – one of the most potent greenhouse gases – across their areas of interest and alert them when they are above acceptable levels.
Develop FarmScore: minimising the climate impact on farmlands through a comprehensive and objective assessment system that uses Earth observation data, ground truthing (known or directly observable information) and a weighted scoring model to measure critical environmental indicators and unlock green financing opportunities.
Omanos Analytics, Glasgow
Improve resilience planning and deliver social context data on the impact of climate change issues on different demographics through a service that integrates community narratives – based on data such as land use and traditional livelihoods – in Earth observation products.
Satellite-enabled tool for tracking and reducing gas flaring and methane emissions from the global oil and gas supply chains.
GeoSmart Information Ltd, Shrewsbury
Automated, highly accessible groundwater-level forecasting system using Earth observation to provide accurate data to boost climate change resilience through improved coverage of flood and drought management systems.
Stellarsat Ltd, Bristol
Framework using various data and AI tools to proactively address the exposure of increasing numbers of critical energy infrastructure assets (such as electric vehicle charging stations and solar home systems) to physical risks induced by climate change.