Seen from Space 2011
The European Continent Is Drying Up
Fig. 1. Comparison of soil moisture in Europe over the average year, and areas of snow
The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E*) was developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and is on board NASA’s Earth-observing satellite, Aqua. Figure 1 shows a comparison of soil moisture in Europe between the average year and May 1 to May 20 this year. The colors in Fig. 1 indicate the degree of dryness of the soil. White indicates dryness as the average; then yellow to red show soil of greater degrees of dryness. In the European continent, France, Germany, and Poland are becoming drier. The soil moisture in France, especially, is below average compared to average year levels. This figure was provided to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan and reported in the “Overseas Food Demand and Supply Report in May 2011.”
The gray areas show areas where it is difficult to analyze the data. The snow areas are located in Italy.
*AMSR-E is an Advanced Microwave Radiometer developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and is on board Aqua, a satellite in NASA’s Earth Observing System. It was launched in 2002 and has since been collecting data of ocean surface temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, and sea ice caps in the Arctic Ocean.
Fig. 2. Changes in soil moisture in European areas
Figure 2 shows changes in soil moisture in some areas of Europe from April 2010 to May 2011. The black lines show average year soil moisture. It is noted that each area shows low levels of soil moisture from the spring of 2011. Especially, two areas in France show severe dryness. The lines break off around December 2010. This is due to data missing because of snow coverage.
G20 Agricultural Ministers Meeting To Be Held
The first Agricultural Ministers meeting of the G20 (twenty countries and areas including the USA, the EU, and Japan) will be held in Paris, France. Shortages in production have caused the price of food to soar. The cause of the shortages, as observed by the satellite data, has been the abnormal climate. The main themes of the meeting will be food security and price stabilization. Satellite observation data is expected to be used in the area of food security.
Explanation of the Images: