Chris Steenmans is the Head of Programme for ICT and Data Management at the European Environment Agency (EEA). The EEA plays a key role in the development and coordination of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, which will benefit from Sentinel-2’s optical imagery.
Chris Steenmans, a native of Belgium, has been working at the European Environment Agency since 1997. After carrying out four years of research on satellite remote sensing for land cover mapping at the University of Leuven, he spent 12 years in the private sector on a wide range of GIS and consultancy projects, including the European CORINE land cover project.
Chris has a Master of Science degree in Geoscience from the Catholic University of Leuven and did four years of research on satellite remote sensing for land cover mapping as post graduate at the same university.
ESA: What is the EEA, and how does it utilise satellite technology?
The EEA is an agency of the European Union. Our task is to provide sound, independent information on the environment. We are a major information source for those involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and also the general public. Currently, the EEA has 33 member countries.
ESA: What is the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service?
The Copernicus Land Monitoring Service provides information on land cover and land use change, and on variables related to vegetation state and the water cycle. It supports applications in a variety of domains, such as spatial planning, forest management, nature conservation, water management and agriculture. Services are targeted to a broad user community with data at global, the European as well as the local level.
ESA: What role does the EEA play within this Service?
Our agency is coordinating the implementation of the Land Monitoring Service. We do an assessment of user needs involving a wide range of stakeholders on a regular basis. The bulk processing of the satellite and in situ data is contracted to the industry. For the quality control of the local and European land monitoring service, we make sure that local and national authorities can participate in the verification and validation of the end products, such as through the European Environmental Information and Observation Network (Eionet). Our agency is also giving special attention to the dissemination and archiving of the products. Finally, we make sure that we have the relevant monitoring in place for the use and fit for purpose of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service.
ESA: How will Sentinel-2 benefit the Land Monitoring Service, and other EEA activities?
First of all, Sentinel-2 will be the main satellite input data for our land monitoring services. The spectral bands, spatial resolution and geographical coverage are designed in such a way that the data are optimal as input for the envisaged regular land monitoring service. The EEA will benefit from these data for many applications, not at least for its regular reporting on the state of Europe’s environment. Areas of application will include the monitoring of the changing urban environment, the pressures and impacts on a wide range of habitats, the increasing fragmentation of the European landscape, support to the implementation of the common agriculture policy, integrated coastal zone monitoring and climate change impact, amongst others.
This is one in a series of interviews with a few of the key people that are involved in the Sentinel-2 mission and its data exploitation. Please check back as further interviews will be added to over the coming weeks.