By Mario Maniewicz, ITU Radiocommunications Bureau Director
Radiocommunication systems are fundamental to monitoring the climate and to helping countries mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and to address its major challenges. Effective and prudent management of allocated frequency bands is therefore paramount to maintaining and enhancing the quality and accuracy of weather and weather-related predictions.
For over 114 years, ITU has played an essential custodian role in the management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits, finite natural resources that are increasingly in demand from a large number of services such as fixed, mobile, broadcasting, amateur, space research, meteorology, and global positioning.
The ubiquity and resilience of radiocommunication systems make them critical to strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
Satellite communications, and in particular space sensing and Earth observation systems are used to monitor the state of the oceans and the conservation of forests. They can detect natural disturbances in the state of the atmosphere and provide accurate climate predictions.
The ITU Radio Regulations– the international treaty governing the global use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits, not only facilitates the equitable access to and rational use of the radio-frequency spectrum and geostationary satellite orbits, but also ensures the availability of the frequencies provided for distress and safety purposes and interference-free operations of radiocommunication systems, including space systems.
The ITU Radiocommunication Bureau, also plays a central role in developing global standards for radio-based telecommunications systems, including terrestrial and space systems, as well as best practices on national spectrum management activities. The worldwide technical standards (ITU-R Recommendations) are developed within the six Study Groups of ITU-R, which gather experts drawn from government, industry, academia and regional and international organizations, who collaborate in establishing the characteristics of the systems and services that will define tomorrow’s wireless landscape.
Earth observation satellites are susceptible to interference from transmitters operating on or near the surface of the Earth. These receivers can only operate at their optimal level because of the regulatory protections afforded to them by the Radio Regulations.
The growing threat of climate change is all around us. The number of natural disasters have increased considerably in the last decades: hurricanes, earthquakes, storms, floods, and fires.
To protect the earth, weather and climate predictions need to start from the best possible estimate of the current state of the atmosphere.
It is crucial that meteorologists have real-time, accurate global observations about what is happening in the Earth’s atmosphere over land and oceans. And for this, they rely on space sensing. Satellite data is today an indispensable input for weather prediction models and forecast systems used to produce safety warnings and other information in support of public and private decision-making.