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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

18 February 2005

New global partnership to study the earth

Sixty nations and forty international organisations have agreed to a ten year plan for a global earth observation system.

The plan, which has been eighteen months in preparation, was endorsed by this week's Ministerial Summit in Brussels.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has welcomed the completion of the plan.

"This is a great step forward in international cooperation to monitor the state of our planet," Senator Campbell said.

Known as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), it will build on a number of existing global observing systems, such as the World Meteorological Organisation's World Weather Watch, to provide a much more comprehensive and integrated approach to earth observation.

GEOSS will include both ground-based and space-based observing systems, which will monitor the state of the atmosphere, ocean, land surface and solid earth. The data will be widely exchanged among all countries. A particular feature that GEOSS will aim to achieve is the exchange of data between previously independent systems.

"This system will be of great benefit to Australia. We already benefit greatly from international cooperation in weather and climate observations under the World Meteorology Organisation. The new GEOSS, when fully implemented, will extend these benefits to many other socio-economic sectors, including disaster mitigation, health, energy, biodiversity and agricultural production," Senator Campbell said.

Australian experts from many areas of government, including the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Greenhouse Office, CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, have contributed to the design of the new system.

"We have helped ensure that GEOSS is built on existing global observing systems and that it does not duplicate or compete with what is already in place," Senator Campbell said.

Reliable earth observation is essential for support of a whole range of essential information systems, especially warning systems for tropical cyclones, severe storms, floods and drought. It will also be critical to support the new tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean which Australia and other countries have agreed to put in place the Boxing Day disaster.

"I congratulate all who have participated in the development of this visionary plan," Senator Campbell said.

"The challenge now will be to maintain the momentum and ensure that the system is progressively implemented over the coming decade."

Media contact:
Senator Campbell's office: Renae Stoikos on 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia