COSSA/EOC in the 2000/2003 Triennium

David L B Jupp
Head of COSSA
EOC Science Leader

May 1999



COSSA is a cross-sectoral unit in CSIRO that adds value through increasing coordination and collaboration in the focus area of earth observation, associated space activities and remote sensing. Earth Observation is both a primary tool and an associated industry with national and international connections throughout the environmental and resources sectors of CSIRO. The associated space activities also link to a wide area of industrial and engineering activity that includes the manufacturing, information and telecommunications sectors.

Key areas of impact of earth observation science and technology in Australia and the world generally are:

In recent years, COSSA has increased its emphasis on actively generating coordinated Tasks in remote sensing science via its Earth Observation Centre (EOC). The EOC brings collaborating scientists together from across CSIRO by the EOC office to develop underpinning knowledge that allows the Divisional scientists to better meet their Sector outcomes using the tools and knowledge that this creates.

The EOC has developed considerable momentum in cross-Divisional and cross-sectoral activities such as best practice software and methods, a start towards standards, joint calibration and validation campaigns, pooled information and access to instrumentation and the promotion of international activities and agreements. The EOC has played a formative role in the Australian Ocean Colour Working Group activities, provided underpinning support to the developing ARIES initiative and continued COSSA's former roles in representing Australia on major international forums. A welcome change that has been occurring has been an increase in the involvement of Divisional scientists, Program Leaders and Chiefs in this international activity. COSSA has also provided considerable impact of research activity and enabling cross-Divisional projects in the last two years from investment of funds in aircraft campaigns and aircraft based developments and experiments.

Highlight areas of research and development in space based science and earth observation that the EOC is actively pursuing with Divisions and that will support the national objectives listed above include:

COSSA's role in CSIRO

COSSA is a functional CSIRO Unit, administered by CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences (CMIS), which aims to coordinate and promote CSIRO activities in national and international space science activities and earth observation.

Responsibilities of the COSSA Unit are to:

  1. Coordinate and pursue National and International liaison, agreements, instrument, data and platform access and representation in space based science, technology and earth observation on behalf of CSIRO;
  2. Engage in strategic planning for CSIRO activities in space based science, technology and earth observation in conjunction with other Australian strategic, industry and policy units;
  3. Develop and pursue successful scientific and collaborative research and demonstration involving scientists from across the CSIRO Divisions through the Earth Observation Centre (EOC).

In carrying out these functions, COSSA is overseen by a Steering Committee of Chiefs with the Chief of its current administering Division as Chair. Three of the Sector Coordinators of COSSA's four major Sectors (Climate and Atmosphere, Marine and Land & Water) are members of the Steering Committee.

The EOC is a science function of COSSA that coordinates interactions and builds teams across Divisional and Sector boundaries. Its constituency is the collection of scientists in CSIRO Divisions called colloquially the "Earth Observing Crew" or E_O_Crew. Based on the EOC collaborative model, Divisional scientists can contribute to a wider area of activity from which benefits flow to their specific outcome oriented Sector goals.

COSSA/EOC activities in seven Sectors

In the COSSA and EOC interactions with seven CSIRO sectors and among the techniques which underpin the Strategic Directions of these Sectors there exist many common Threads. These link across Divisions and Sectors that provide major initiatives and advantages from the unified and collaborative approach of the EOC.

Major cross-Sectoral technical initiatives that occur commonly in our interactions include:

These initiatives benefit many applications and should be kept in view across the Sectors and their overall value taken into account in the overall allocations that will flow from the Sector allocation process.

Sector investments for the 2000/2003 Triennium

During the 1997/2000 triennium, there has been an evolution of the balance of Sector investment brought about by the changes to COSSA, to the aircraft program funding and the results of extensive Task reviews during 1998. In the case of the aircraft program, access to research aircraft for scientific missions have become much more open and diverse than in the past. These activities and the Sector based Triennium process have positioned COSSA and its EOC well to serve CSIRO in the coming Triennium 2000-2003.

COSSA allocations of funding involve primarily EOC Tasks, which are collaborative and involve Divisional scientists, and a number of other support activities. These latter include shared areas where scientists from many Divisions can be involved including:

In all cases the sector figures reflect the use of these common areas as well as those of specifically identifiable projects in Divisions. These common areas are essential components of EOC success and functioning. They provide direct benefit to the E_O_Crew and to their many Divisions and Sectoral objectives. These may include ground and airborne validation missions, travel for knowledge acquisition or representation or meeting with fellow E_O_Crew and providing input to Working Groups. Taken as a whole, they allow scientists to be truly corporate representatives benefiting Earth Observation as well as their specific Divisional objectives.

As well, the EOC identifies support targeted at increasing interactions between EOC scientists and good students who are studying areas of consequence for CSIRO in the generic science behind earth observation as well as access to established international scientists through:

COSSA and its EOC are integrated fully with the outcomes proposed through the CSIRO Sectors. This occurs through the cross-Divisional and cross-Sectoral base of the E_O_Crew and the impacts of the generic R&D promoted by the EOC collaborative model. The interactions between COSSA, its EOC and the Sectors are illustrated in the following Table:

Proposed COSSA/EOC Cross-Sectoral Contribution - 2000/2001 - 2003/2004 Triennium
Based on Direct Appropriation

In the coming Triennium, the COSSA and EOC plans have been established by the reviews and development of new Tasks (with the approval of the COSSA Steering Committee) and through the CSIRO Sector Triennium process. COSSA has also invested in key Post Doctoral Fellows in Divisions and PhD Students supervised by CSIRO scientists at the same time as it has reduced its former emphasis on policy and representation and made more funds available for EOC Tasks.

The CSIRO Sector Triennium process has provided COSSA with a clear map of the impacts of its activities in the CSIRO Sectors and their strategic directions. The outcomes they will benefit and a proper requirement to account for those promised impacts in the next Triennium are well suited to the structure and philosophy of the new COSSA and its EOC.

The stragic areas to which COSSA and its EOC will contribute and help achieve their planned outcomes are summarised as follows:

Strategic Direction
How EOC contributes
Human Impact on the global atmosphere Climate & Atmosphere Data Consistency & Standardisation (DC&S). 15 years consistent CSIRO AVHRR time series archive and software standards. Calibration, validation and site instrumentation for surface energy and radiation balance validation and measurements.
Global Warming: predicting climate change Climate & Atmosphere Aerosol measurements and monitoring activities which underpin modelling of Global Warming and developing models of climate change. Outcomes of the coordinated DC&S Thread and its demonstrations of advanced AVHRR time series processing. Satellite data inputs to the global and regional climate and observing systems and their international linkages.
Exploration of the EEZ - Mapping habitat & diversity Marine Increased value from ocean colour sensor data. Algorithms for mapping case 2 waters turbidity and colour. In situ, airborne and satellite based data on optical water quality. Large area monitoring of marine resources through ocean colour & temperature. Inputs to effective zonation of ocean and near coastal marine regions Measures relating to habitat status and changes over time.
Sustainable regional development Land & Water The development of new Technologies such as hyperspectral methods and Lidar tools that will provide vegetation cover, structure and health at a range of scales. The base of consistent long term (15 year) time series AVHRR emerging from the EOC that will form a base for regional assessment and prediction of response. Provision of relevant regional and national information for land assessment, monitoring and management decision feedback and evaluation. Integration of biophysical data from single sites to catchments to regions to continent by combining skills from observing system science to flux modelling and atmosphere/land interactions. Provision of advanced accounting of water, soil and other material fluxes at a regional scale.
Innovative Techniques to recognise ore-bearing systems and locate ore deposits Mineral Exploration & Mining Improved location of mineralisation in different environments. Development of new capabilities in space based remote sensing data. Techniques for exploration data that provide advantage to Australia. Instrumentation for field and operational exploration. Hyperspectral methods for airborne and spaceborne data. Airborne missions for base data acquisition.
Regional Management of Marine Resources Marine Developments and integration of validated data from a range of sources such as altimeters, ocean colour sensors, thermal imagers and hyperspectral instruments. Effective algorithms to take these data into information for regional management. Links to the international observing marine systems. Regional information for monitoring Australia's marine resources. Indicators derivable from remote sensing and ancillary data. Monitoring of impacts at scales from estuary to continental shelf.
Reduce the adverse effects of mining operations on the environment Mineral Exploration & Mining High spatial resolution technologies for minesite monitoring. High spectral data processing and analysis techniques for regolith, vegetation and aquatic status. Development of high quality airborne and ground calibration and validation techniques. Mature techniques for monitoring minesite rehabilitation's ecological and hydrological processes. New technologies for reliably correcting imagery for measuring environmental impact and remediation monitoring. Integration of airborne and space spectral and geophysical data for the benefit of the mining industry.
Healthy Rivers and Coastal Catchments Land & Water Airborne missions for validation and research data provision. Developments in optical water quality science. Coastal zone (in conjunction with Marine) monitoring methods. Operational algorithms and specified techniques, including mission planning, software and instrument calibration and modelling for measuring optical water properties in riverine, estuarine and coastal areas.
Management of the land/sea interface Marine Case 2 waters algorithms for turbidity and chlorophyll. Measurement technologies consistent with satellite and airborne measurements. Methods to monitor shallow water benthic habitats and their health. Monitoring of algal blooms, water quality and turbidity. Monitoring and mapping coral reef algal covers from airborne and in situ platforms. Ocean and coastal impacts measurement technology.
Improved Prediction & Management of Climate Impacts Marine Contributions to the development of ocean observing through access to international data and algorithm development. Calibration and validation studies to underpin international missions and derive access for Australia. Integration of information from many scales of the ocean system environment including airborne, satellite and modelling based informationKey predictive data for ocean and marine resource interactions and impacts as climate evolves and changes. Information to underpin and constrain climate models within the ocean. Information products (such as combined temperature, ocean colour and in-water information) to assess state of marine resources.
Redesign of Australian Agricultural Systems Land & Water New Technologies based on airborne high resolution monitoring systems. Airborne validation of fine and broad scale mapping and measurement. Exploration of new technologies such as Lidar biomass mapping. Operational tools for monitoring fine scale environmental and agricultural systems that are compatible with spatial information systems being developed to manage Australian Agricultural Systems for maximum efficiency.
Sustainable Management of native forests & -plantations & its demonstration Forestry & Forest Products Methods for high resolution airborne mapping of forests. Advanced technologies (eg safe Lidars) for structure and biomass mapping. Forest health and productivity through advanced spectral techniques. Airborne missions and validation studies. Measurements of land cover and structure from airborne & spaceborne platforms. Remotely measured indicators of forest health and environmental interactions.
Integrating Biodiversity Biodiversity New technologies such as safe Lidars for biomass and environmental structure mapping. Access to consistent and standard time series products developed by cross-Sectoral collaboration in long term environmental data such as AVHRR. Operational biodiversity mapping and monitoring at scales from bush to continent. Operational airborne assessment and environmental monitoring. Hyperspectral techniques for environmental assessment.
Biodiversity conservation Biodiversity Habitat maps and assessments at detailed scale from airborne data. Techniques to analyse high resolution airborne image data. Field validation methods for habitat/image relationships
Radioastronomy Radioastron Support of Geodetic VLBI Research.


COSSA/EOC Initiatives in the 2000/2003 Triennium

The 2000/2003 triennium will see many significant impacts of changes taking place in the space applications and earth observation area nationally and internationally. Earth Observation has moved nationally and internationally from a launch based and engineering focus to an applications and end-use focus. Indeed, the Sector process itself shows this to be part of a wider trend than just Earth Observation.

There are many platforms now available or becoming available to carry well specified instruments and well focussed missions. Climate prediction and monitoring, Greenhouse inventory and monitoring, ocean observing systems and land applications to fire, flood and extreme events provide examples of the outcome areas for these missions. Using the available and feasible advanced technology to map and monitor earth resources and make this information a key aspect of government and commercial decisions has become the primary focus of COSSA investments and one that will help CSIRO Divisions meet their and our obligations to Sector outcomes and the contributions to Australia they will make.

In this new focus the operating environment will have:

COSSA, through its EOC will underpin CSIRO generic research and development in this operating environment. In the 2000/2003 triennium some highlight areas of this underpinning activity in research and development of space based science and earth observation will include:

These activities will be promoted, communicated and supported through the EOC collaborative model, gathering best teams of scientists from across the existing base of CSIRO knowledge and linked to the wider CSIRO, national and international initiatives and responses through the coordinating role of the COSSA unit. COSSA and its more recent EOC have been crucial in the past to the proud record of CSIRO in Earth Observation and associated Space activities. This key position will be at least as important and beneficial in the coming triennium as it has been in the current one.