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GEO 2017-2019 Work Programme


Geo Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories (GSNL)

Activity ID: 115


The Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratory Initiative (GSNL) is a voluntary international partnership aiming to improve, through an Open Science approach, geophysical scientific research and geohazard assessment in support of Disaster Risk Reduction.

The GSNL goal is pursued promoting broad international scientific collaboration and open access to a variety of space- and ground-based data, focusing on areas with scientific knowledge gaps and high risk levels: the Supersites and the Natural Laboratories. For these areas a joint effort is carried out: the space agencies provide satellite imagery at no cost for scientific use, the monitoring agencies provide access to ground-based data, the global scientific community exploits these data to generate state of the art scientific results. The coordination of each Supersite is normally attributed to local geohazard scientific institutions and researchers which are already operationally providing authoritative geohazard information to support the decision makers. This process ensures that the new knowledge generated by the wider scientific community is rapidly taken up by the stakeholders to benefit hazard assessment, disaster monitoring and response actions.

Activities for the period

The first 5 years of the Initiative allowed demonstration of the validity of the Supersite concept, showing that improved access to EO and in-situ data is able to stimulate new science which can directly benefit the society. The process by which decision makers made direct use of the information produced and communicated by the scientific community was straightforward for some Supersites (e.g. Hawai’i, Iceland, Campi Flegrei, Ecuador). However much work will be done in the next three years to establish the conditions by which the same process can be applied on a more routine basis to all Supersites.

The specific objectives of GSNL for the period 2017-2019 are:

  1. to enable the global scientific community open, full and easy access to a variety of space- and ground-based data, focusing over selected, high risk areas of the world: the Supersites and the Natural Laboratories;
  2. to promote advancements in geohazard science over the selected sites;
  3. to report scientific results relevant to geohazard assessment to authoritative bodies and other DRR stakeholders, supporting informed decision-making in Disaster Risk Management activities;
  4. to innovate technologies, processes, and communication models, enhancing data sharing, global scientific collaboration, and capacity building in geohazard science.

To reach these goals, in the period 2017-2019 the GSNL Initiative will build on its past successes, increasing the number of Supersites (from 7 to 12-13) and improving several management and IT aspects, strengthening the way the Supersite scientists collaborate and generate new science.

User engagement

There are three main types of stakeholders involved in the GSNL Initiative:

  1. The data providers (for in-situ and EO data). They are mostly contributors to the Initiative, however they also use GSNL to promote their activities, demonstrating the societal benefits of the data they produce;
  2. The global geohazard scientific community. Scientists use the Initiative to obtain an easier and open access to a large quantity of EO data, plus in-situ data which may not be easily accessible outside of the Supersite framework. They are motivated by the scientific research, by the possibility to improve their capacities through a focused collaboration, and by the possibility to contribute with their work to generate direct societal benefits in DRR;
  3. The final users of the geohazard scientific information. This category includes policy makers and decision makers at international/national/regional scales, the industry sector, the responders, the general public. These are what we call End-users.

Future plans

We will transfer the positive experiences and service models from the more mature Supersites to the less advanced ones, exploiting the role of the local community in the provision of scientific information services to local End-users. We will demonstrate the societal benefits of an Open Science approach to Geohazards and their related disasters, by exploiting a streamlined process by which research results from the global scientific community are operationally provided as consensus scientific information to the decision makers for direct use in DRR activities. Moreover, we will implement a process allowing the End-users to propose specific priority objectives to the global scientific community, promoting a more effective geohazard assessment, and ultimately improving the DRM actions taken at local level.


Since its inception the GSNL Initiative was mainly based on voluntary contributions (data, efforts infrastructures) from the various partners. Only the European Supersites benefited from large EC funding (€6 M each), which allowed to further develop the monitoring and ICT infrastructures. We expect that in-kind support from the participants will remain the baseline funding model for 2017-2019, even for the Supersites providing operational services, which are part of public institutional service agreements at national level.

We expect that in-kind support from the participants will remain the baseline funding model for 2017-2019, even for the Supersites providing operational services, which are part of public institutional service agreements at national level. However, more project funding is needed for some activities. We expect that direct cash-funding for Supersite-specific tasks (e.g. for developing data infrastructures, monitoring networks, capacity building) will be obtained through national or international competitive calls.

The total resources (direct and in-kind) available for this 2017-2019 IP through contributions from the partnership, i.e. the CEOS agencies (including EO data and infrastructures as the ESA GEP), the monitoring agencies (in-situ data and infrastructures), and the scientific community (management, research, dissemination), is estimated to be ~€5.8 M/year (of which €4.4 M/year of commercial EO data costs).



Members: Canada, EC, Ecuador, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, Turkey, USA.

Participating Organizations: CEOS, ESA.

Others: EPOS.

Linkages across the Work Programme

Initiatives:  GEO-DARMA.

Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)




Implementing Entity



Stefano Salvi



GEO Sec Rep

Vanessa Aellen

GEO Secretariat