The European Space Agency will hold its Third ERS Symposium from 17 to 21 March 1997 in Florence, Italy, at which scientists and application experts, including ERS Principal Investigators will present their results on the use of data from the ESA Remote Sensing satellites ERS 1 and ERS 2. Around 600 delegates from more than 30 countries have already announced their participation in this meeting.
The opening session, chaired by Lanfranco Emiliani, ESA's Director of Observation of the Earth and its Environment, will also include speeches by a number of high-ranking personalities and well-known scientific experts in the fields of global environmental and climate change, oceanography and applications from such novel technologies as radar interferometry. From Tuesday 18 to Friday 21 March, some 250 presentations and 150 poster sessions will take stock of the research and applications activities that stemmed from the analysis of the data generated by the ERS 1 and ERS 2 satellites. The complete programme of the Symposium can be viewed on the Website: http://florence97.ers-symposium.org/
Earth Observation satellites have become essential tools for the continuous monitoring of the Earth's environment and its resources. In order to allow the creation of global, national, regional and local policies giving clear environmental guidelines, the continuous availability of satellite data is of the utmost importance. Thanks to ESA's ERS 1 and ERS 2 satellites (in orbit since 1991 and 1995 respectively) a wealth of environmental data has been collected to improve our understanding of processes such as those concerning the atmosphere, oceans, polar regions, tropical rain forests, urban areas, agricultural patterns, vegetation and, more generally, climate variability.
The capability to process and deliver ERS data within a few hours from observation has enabled the development of important services for applications such as the monitoring of shipping routes, natural catastrophes (floods, forest fires and volcanic eruptions for instance), marine oil slicks, deforestation, ice and water reserves, as well as the fluctuations of the ozone level in the atmosphere.
All the themes listed above will be examined during this conference. The poster exhibition area will also include online demonstrations highlighting practical applications and ERS User Service activities. On this occasion a new online information service for Earth Observation users developed by ESA will be introduced, called "Earthnet Online". This service will soon be available over the World Wide Web.
ERS 1 and ERS 2 will be followed by Envisat 1 (scheduled for launch in 1999). This new generation Earth Observation satellite will provide continuity in data collection and will be a milestone towards the launch and exploitation of future operational Earth Observation missions such as the Earth Watch satellites.
Note for Media representatives: Those wishing to attend either the opening or closing session at the Congress Centre (address Palazzo Affari, Piazza Adua 1, Florence, Italy) should contact by Friday 14 March the ESRIN Public Relations Office, Mrs. Evelyn Loeffler (tel.+39-6-941 80 951, fax 941 80 952). From 17 to 21 March, please call +39 55 277 3415 or 3416 (Florence Congress Centre, Symposium desk. For further information on the general programme of the Symposium and topics presented please access the special pages on Internet at: "http://florence97.ers-symposium.org/", or ask for a copy via Fax.