The European Earth Observation Programme (GMES)


gmesManaging natural resources and biodiversity, adapting to sea level rise, monitoring the chemical composition of our atmosphere: all depend on accurate information delivered in time to make a difference. 

The European Earth Observation Programme (GMES) provides data useful in a range of issues including climate change and citizen's security. Land, sea and atmosphere – each Earth component is observed through GMES, helping to make our lives safer. 

The purpose of GMES is to deliver information which corresponds to user needs. The processing and dissemination of this information is carried out within the "GMES service component". 

The thematic areas within the GMES service component comprise: 

land, marine and atmosphere information – ensuring systematic monitoring and forecasting the state of the Earth's subsystems at regional and global levels;
climate change information – helping to monitor the effects of climate change, assessing mitigation measures and contributing to the knowledge base for adaptation policies and investments;
emergency and security information – providing support in the event of emergencies and humanitarian aid needs, in particular to civil protection authorities, also to produce accurate information on security related aspects (e.g. maritime surveillance, border control, global stability, etc.)

The GMES service component depends on Earth observation data, collected from space (satellites), air (airborne instruments, balloons to record stratosphere data, etc.), water (floats, shipboard instruments, etc.) or land (measuring stations, seismographs, etc.). These facilities are called the GMES infrastructure component; non-space based installations in the GMES infrastructure component are generally referred to as "in situ component".

By securing the sustainability of an information infrastructure necessary to produce output information in the form of maps, datasets, reports, targeted alerts, etc…, GMES helps people and organisations to take action, make appropriate policy decisions and decide on necessary investments. GMES also represents a great potential for businesses in the services market, which will be able to make use of the data and information it provides according a full an open access principle.

Earth observation-based services already exist in Europe, but they are dispersed at national or regional level and cannot rely on a sustainable observation capacity. With the exception of meteorological services, long-term availability and reliability of information is not guaranteed. This is why, in order to contribute to improve its response to ever growing challenges of global safety and climate change, Europe develops a sustained and reliable Earth observation system of its own.