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Living Planet Symposium 2016 - Prague, Czech Republic

From May 9th to 13th 2016, the European Space Agency (ESA) hosted the Living Planet Symposium in Prague, Czech Republic. Several students and alumni of Global Change Ecology attended this conference on remote sensing and Earth Observation (EO).

The conference presented recent applications of Earth Observation data, as well as missions and programs, such as the Copernicus program. Participants could choose between many different topics that were covered in the expert talks such as: Cryosphere, Oceanography, Hazards, Methods & Products, Land or Climate and Meteorology. In this way, scientists and users of every field could exchange ideas about possible applications of EO data or make suggestions for improvement. For us students, it meant getting an insight into the state of the art in remote sensing, learning how to use satellite data to observe changes in forest cover or ocean temperatures and where to access these data. The new Sentinel satellites are one example for a progress in Earth Observation that we were introduced to during the conference. I mainly attended the talks about Land, Climate & Meteorology and Open Science. I was especially fascinated by the applications of EO data for biodiversity research and conservation.

Besides the talks there were also exhibitions and poster sessions. Two floors of the hall were dedicated to poster exhibitions where research from various international private, public and academic institutions were displayed, and among them, posters from Global Change Ecology students and alumni. Furthermore, there was an exhibition hall for companies, NGOs or cooperative projects which provide EO data or platforms, such as Copernicus, EUMETSAT or Google Earth Engine. Another exhibition featured images of our Planet from space, depicting urban growth, weather, anthropogenic effects - such as pollution and land use change, etc. At the end of each day there was a possibility to network and to read the posters. I used this occasion to ask specific questions to the poster authors about remote sensing topics that I was particularly interested in.

The 2016 ESA Living Planet Symposium was held in Prague and has previously taken place in Edinburgh (2013), Bergen (2010), Montreux (2007) and Salzburg (2004). It is open to anyone interested in remote sensing and exploitation of Earth observation missions. To conclude, this was a unique opportunity for me to gain knowledge on Earth Observation.

Text and pictures: Claudia Steinacker

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