GEO Cold Regions Initiative

GEO Cold Regions Initiative

The Challenge

Under a global warming scenario, the high elevation and high latitude cold regions, dominated by the cryosphere elements, are inherently fragile to the environment, where changes in the phase of water and the induced result to the environment affect billions of human lives there and the downstream area.

The Solution

Cryosphere Data Stream Services in Cold Regions through the Derived and Integrated Earth Observation Products - to facilitate the provision and standardization of satellite information products in the cryosphere-dominated cold regions to meet the needs of societies, including high elevation and high latitude cold regions.

Latest Developments

[DSWS-2023] International Symposium on Data Science 2023, GEO variables and data mapping for Cold Regions

The topics could be essential variables, GEO data system, and data application, and pilot services using the data stream, and cases studies over cold regions by GEO.

Our Impact

The GEO Cold Regions Initiative (GEO CRI) has a strong legacy of understanding cold regions' environment through space observations, which is both relevant to GEO itself and accepted by users (requirement evidence on the sentinel satellite, see more about the document section of

  1. The Initiative will be providing high-quality information services based on high spatial and temporal resolution products to stakeholders, relying on the fast development of the space-based data, not only for the science-driven requirement forcing data but also for societal and economic applications.
  2. The Initiative is made up of very diverse groups with experience and background covering cold regions around the globe, data providers, users, and stakeholders, its data and information stream can provide the unique standard for the global pilot service example.
  3. The Initiative has been endorsed by YOPP in 2015, and is in the process of gaining endorsements by the ISC bodies of science and GEO participant bodies, private companies of COSCO, international science programs, like the Digital Belt and Road program (DBAR), Third Pole Environment program (TPE), international research organizations, e.g., International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS), and NGOs, e.g., International Polar Protection Association (IPPA).
  4. The Initiative is about the cryosphere-dominated cold regions world wildly, with a different focus than mountain areas and the Arctic regions with observational networks, creating and maintaining information services based on the synergy of in-situ and space-borne data, rather than the primary data collected by operational satellites. The complementary function will be developed with the GEO program, Arctic GEOSS, GEONOME, and other international bodies.

Policy Drivers

Providing the assessment report on the climate actions for the SDGs (SDG13.1 and 13.3); Providing the snow, GLOF, ice mapping, and chart, etc., for the water availability, downstream ecosystem impact analysis, emerging risk management, even on a daily basis, and transportation on land and Northern Sea Route, such as water availability, and its analysis, shipping advisory, and disaster risk assessment; Providing the released as standard data products for at an open science basis, that others communities or stakeholder can be accessed and referenced. Capacity building to the stakeholders jointly with the users’ communities.

How We Work

In the past years, massive Earth observation products have been produced in international and national projects, with a focus on the synergy of in-situ and space-borne data normally. This development accelerates access to large data streams freely. This makes the information service for the cold regions feasible, even operationally to some extent. The recently created databases about the cold regions and the open access to standard data products provide both the tools and historical data required for the full fruition of information services and the consolidation of the data value chain.

The data products and information produced by advanced algorithms running on the high-performance computer system have been built for more than 5 years, for example, the setup of the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS), which is affiliated by three engineering division on the data, and information producing functions. Another good tool is the online computing capacity formed by Google Earth Engine (GEE), by which several data products have been produced. Other methods and data sources are (1) multi-resources data stream by the combination of public and private data, employing the open resource Earth observations data, like Landsat, Gaofen serious, Sentinel, AMSR and MODIS, Fengyun series, and SDGSAT-1, and tools are online processing by GEE and self-developed algorithms. (2) Tools and open knowledge of the data processing tools. The method includes the physical retrieval algorithm, standard data post-processing to make the data operational and updated periodically, including snow cover, e.g., NDSI and post-process for cloud-free datasets tools, Sea Ice Concentration by ASI, NT algorithm, Sea Ice Melting ponds by MODIS algorithm (physical model), lake and river ice coverage and phenology by threshold method automatically, and etc,

As for the developed and in-development method, the continuous data stream will be operated by dedicated units that link with GEOCRI contributors, while for the planned data products, this will be continually developed by the existing projects (see below on the resource), while new group work needs to be initiated to engage new player through the open policy on the data products. At this stage, the metadata of an online database about the global cold regions has been set up, see, the published dataset (high-level products) and open policies are the main challenges for the service, which will be discussed and developed by this initiative.

Open science is leading the way forward to create data services consistent with the new stage of the development of the EOs market, this development deserves high priority in cold regions, where data are sparse and difficult to obtain by local communities. Space-based products effectively bridge multiple information gaps.

The United Nations push the digital commons to promote the digital benefits of climate actions addressing sustainable development goals. The digital services are at the end of the data stream into sustainable practices, with traditional agencies calling for the data to be applicable and cost-free, for instance, monitoring shipping lanes to adapt to new challenges. Both the emerging policy mandate and the needs of private actors call for the provision of information services to the cold regions.


For more information about the GEO Cold Regions Initiative explore the website

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