Proceedings PaperUnderstanding what's critical in protecting our society: Can satellite observations help?
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There are many vital issues which are impacting our daily lives and will continue to haunt us as long as we live on this planet of ours. These issues range from food supply availability, drought, coastal zone erosion, volcanoes, hurricanes, terrorism, global warming, earthquakes, water resources, air quality, public health, and agriculture production. Such societal needs are directly linked to our geometric population growth, and abundance of automobiles, industrial emissions, industrial waste and extensive fishing of our oceans and elimination of our ecology. The questions which require serious thoughts, research, coordination, and resources to understand, plan and strike a sensible balance in our daily lives and the above issues are tough to deal with. However, with the advent of remote sensing technologies, tremendous progress has been made in applying space-based and airborne data and products in solving real societal problems. Several of these problems, such as coastal zone erosion, air quality, severe weather, water availability and quality, public health, fires, land slides and others are intricately related; and in the long run can have serious consequences if not properly addressed by scientists, regulatory bodies and policy makers. Although it is a much involved and tangled web to unravel, nevertheless we have an excellent start in understanding some of the phenomena and hopefully can mitigate some of the severe effects by advancing our scientific knowledge. This paper briefly discusses the applications of remote sensing data from Terra, Aqua, and other NASA satellites how to deal with such complex problems; it provides an excellent start.