TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED EARTH OBSERVATION SCIENCE IN A BIG EARTH DATA ERA
Earth observation (EO) data – including satellite-borne, airborne or drone-based imagery – have become indispensable for the monitoring of the environment. EO supports tackling the ‘grand challenges’ at global spatial scales, such as global change and climate variability technology but also retail or insurance. Like a macroscope, it opens research avenues to observe processes occurring over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, from abrupt changes such as earthquakes, to decadal shifts such as growth and shrinkage of ice sheets. Particularly satellite data became a success story and empowered individuals, businesses and society. Until a few years ago, the term remote sensing mainly stood for a digital raster world view while the GIS community was inclined to the vector world. “Earth Observation” seems to be integrative and to accommodate various means of data acquisition from satellites, aircrafts, drones, to in situ measurements. Today the rapid growth of data science, the consumerization of GIS and remote sensing, and the continued spread of online cartographic tools are prompting a more holistic Earth Observation Science and interdisciplinary educational programmes.