The recent economic crisis shows the crucial role of efficient and productive use of limited natural resources, such as biomass, biosphere, mineral resources, and water to stimulate sustainable economic development. Climate change has been labelled as the "defining challenge of our time". Its impact is already evident and will intensify over time if left unaddressed. There is overwhelming scientific evidence, that climate change will threaten economic growth, long term prosperity and social welfare of practically all countries, as well as the very survival of the most vulnerable populations.
ICTs and radiocommunications in particular are essential tools in the combat against climate change. Areas foreseen in this context include: continued observations and long-term monitoring of solar activity to improve our knowledge and understanding of the influence of the electromagnetic radiation from the sun on Earth´s environment, including climate; continued observations to characterize changes in the atmosphere, oceans, and land surface, and the use of such information for climate change modelling; and continued observations of the change in the ozone layer and its effects on the environment and human health. Land cover change assessment and understanding of its dynamics are recognized as essential requirements for sustainable management of natural resources, environmental protection, food security, climate change and humanitarian programmes. Terrestrial and satellite radiocommunication systems contribute to the monitoring of carbon emissions, the changing of ice in polar caps and glaciers, and temperature changes. Another key aspect is the application of modern radiocommunication system's to increase productivity, optimize energy consumption and reduce transportation costs leading to reduced levels of CO2 emissions.
ITU-R creates the regulatory and technical bases for the development and effective operation of satellite and terrestrial climate monitoring and data dissemination systems. It does so by: allocating the necessary radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbit resources; analysing compatibility between new and existing satellite systems; carrying out studies and developing international standards for space-based and other radiocommunication systems and networks; and providing guidance and support on the use of satellite and terrestrial systems for environmental monitoring, and for prediction and mitigation of the negative effects of disasters caused by climate change. Table below specifies scope of ITU-R studies for Climate Change:
Monitoring the environment|
Satellite observations of the Earth's atmosphere and surface
The acquisition, processing, analysis and distribution of data from remote sensing satellites
Solar radio monitoring|
| Ground observation of atmosphere characteristic||Meteorological aids|
Energy, water and fuel savings
Planting decision, irrigation planning
Disseminating alert messages, coordination of relief activities and advice to public
ITU-R provides "life blood" for development of any radiocommunication system and its work is paramount to the successful operation of any radio application. During his visit to ITU headquarters (June 2007), the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon remarked that "ITU is one of the most important stakeholders in terms of climate change".
The 2012 World Radiocommunication conference ( -
WRC-12 - ) recognized the importance of Earth observation radiocommunication applications. As a result, the conference reinforced ITU´s mandate to allocate the necessary radio frequencies and orbit resources. In addition, it advised to approve the international standards for the interference-free operation of applications and radio communications systems used for climate monitoring, weather forecasting, remote sensing and disaster prediction and detection. Key outcomes of the conference included:
- Allocation of spectrum in the range 3-50 MHz to promote and protect the development of oceanographic radars that monitor the sea surface for wave heights and currents and track large objects.
- Allocation of spectrum for world wide lightning detection system.
- Extension of the existing allocation to the meteorological-satellite service in the band 7750-7850 MHz to the band 7850-7900 MHz to increase date rate from satellite to Earth.
- Allocation of additional "spectrum windows" between 275 GHz and 3000 GHz for the use by the Earth exploration satellite service to improve the measurement of hydrological cycle components.
- A modification to Resolution 673 (WRC-12) to highlight the importance of collecting and exchanging Earth observation data to maintain and improve the accuracy of weather forecasts and contribute to the protection of life throughout the world.
Radiocommunication Assembly 2012 ( -
RA-12 - ) adopted a number of Resolutions asking ITU-R to conduct appropriate studies, in particular:
RESOLUTION ITU-R 53-1 - "The use of radiocommunications in disaster response and relief";
RESOLUTION ITU-R 55-1 - "ITU studies of disaster prediction, detection, mitigation and relief";
RESOLUTION ITU-R 60 - "Reduction of energy consumption for environmental protection and mitigating climate change by use of ICT/radiocommunication technologies and systems".
WRC-15 - agenda includes a number of items, covering Climate change and Emergency communication issues, particularly:
- to consider a primary allocation for the Earth exploration-satellite service (Earth-to-space), to meet requirements of future missions will require to uplink to the spacecraft a large amount of data for operations plans and dynamic spacecraft software modifications;
- to consider an extension of the current worldwide allocation to the Earth exploration-satellite (active) service to achieve high resolution information to less than 0.3 m. Such a high resolution will enable unprecedented features for long-term (4d, i.e.3d space dimensions and one time dimension) global monitoring as well as for environmental monitoring and land-use purposes in all-weather conditions;
- to consider possible spectrum requirements and regulatory actions to support wireless avionics intra-communications (WAIC) in order to replace aircraft wiring with radio links reducing fuel burn and CO2 emission up to 30%.
Climate Change Conference (COP-17), Durban, South Africa, 2011
6th ITU Symposium on ICTs, the Environment and Climate Change, Accra, Ghana, 2011
ITU-T SG 5 meeting, Seoul, Corea, 2011
United Nations inter-agency meeting on outer space activities, Geneva, Switzerland, 2011
7th ITU Symposium on ICTs, the Environment and Climate Change, Montreal, Canada, 2012
WSIS Forum 2012, Geneva, Switzerland, 2012
Climate Change Conference (COP-18), Doha, Qatar, 2012
8th ITU Symposium on ICTs, the Environmant and Climate Change, Turin, Italy, 2013
ITU Regional Workshop for the CIS countries on the Role of ICT in Saving Lives, Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyz Republic, 2013
Relevant Web pages
- ITU News Magazine, special edition on ‘Monitoring our changing planet’: Critical spectrum for Earth observation from space
Second ITU/WMO Seminar
"Use of Radio Spectrum for Meteorology: Weather, Water and Climate Monitoring and Prediction", ITU Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, 23 to 24 October 2017
First ITU/WMO Seminar
"Use of Radio Spectrum for Meteorology: Weather, Water and Climate Monitoring and Prediction", WMO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, 16-18 September 2009
ITU and Climate Change Homepage
ITU Seminar for Americas Region Science services: regulatory, technical and practical implications - Manta, Ecuador, 20-21 September 2012
WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate
Radio Frequencies for Weather, Water and Climate Monitoring and Prediction
NASA and Global Climate Change