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US-EU Satellite Data sharing aids in Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma Efforts

U.S. cooperation with the European Commission, facilitated by the Department of State, allowed for rapid activation of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) over the Texas and Louisiana coasts affected by Category-4 Hurricane Harvey, the largest recorded rainstorms ever to hit the contiguous United States.

Hurricane from space (Image: Stock)

This service has provided local, state, and federal disaster managers with free, real-time, all-weather radar satellite images of the affected areas; we are grateful to our European partners, including the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, for their assistance during this challenging time.

Since August 25, Europe’s Copernicus EMS, at no cost to the United States, has generated up-to-date, satellite-based maps of the flood extent. In combination with U.S. satellite data, these maps are critical tools for relief operations by U.S. federal, state, and local disaster responders. With Hurricane Irma projected to reach the Caribbean Islands and the East Coast of the United States, the delivery of EMS products will shift to addressing the response to that major storm.

This sharing of important satellite data is enabled by the United States–European Commission Cooperation Arrangement on Earth Observation Data Related to the Copernicus Program, which was negotiated by the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, and has been in effect since October 2015. The arrangement reflects a shared U.S.-EU vision to pursue full, free, and open data policies for government Earth observation satellites, fostering greater scientific discovery and encouraging innovation in applications and value-added services for the benefit of society at large.