Oct 6, 2010

NASA launches SERVIR-Himalaya Programme with ICIMOD

SERVIR nodes The SERVIR-Himalaya system has been launched on 5th October 2010, by Mr. Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA Administrator, and Mr. Michael Yates, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of USAID in Kathmandu. The launch had been held on the occasion of the international symposium, 'Benefiting from Earth Observation: Bridging the Data Gap for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region', which started on 4th October. SERVIR is an earth observation, monitoring, and visualisation system that integrates satellite and other geospatial data as a contribution to improved scientific knowledge to support decision-making by managers, researchers, students, and the general public. Initiated by NASA and USAID, SERVIR has been recognised by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), as an early achiever of the GEO vision.
The SERVIR programme is designed to build the capacity of countries to use earth observation and geospatial information technologies in different regions around the world. The improved scientific knowledge will benefit disaster management, biodiversity conservation, transboundary air pollution monitoring, snow and glacier monitoring, and mountain ecosystem management. In the context of achieving these common goals, USAID, NASA, and ICIMOD have joined hands to work together to establish SERVIR-Himalaya as the third regional SERVIR operational facility. SERVIR is already operating in Mesoamerica and East Africa, where it has proven its worth in several instances of international crises. For example, during the tropical storm Agatha, which hit Guatemala and Southern Mexico towards the end of May 2010, SERVIR’s sensor data helped identify mountain communities that had been hit by the heaviest rainfall. This knowledge allowed decision-makers to focus their rescue efforts on these remote areas.

In the following months SERVIR-Himalaya will gradually be adapted to the specific needs and priorities of the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region. In close interaction with governments and stakeholders from the region’s countries, SERVIR will fine tune its applications and customise them in order to provide decision support in priority areas such as cryosphere monitoring, disaster, land cover and transboundary air quality. In line with the SERVIR activities, ICIMOD took up rapid response mapping of the recent floods in Pakistan, which provided local teams in disaster management with daily updates of inundated areas. Such information helps in decisions for relief work and rehabilitation. These kinds of applications will be combined and systematically organised through the SERVIR-Himalaya system. In addition to being an outreach platform, SERVIR-Himalaya will also create a network of users through training and capacity building.


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