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Climate Change

NASA and USAID play important roles in the United States’ efforts to tackle global climate change. SERVIR supports these efforts by fostering international scientific collaboration to better understand and implement solutions to climate change and its impacts. Using satellite data collected from space, SERVIR develops services to prepare for and manage climate shocks, including droughts, and floods. These climate challenges can devastate families, communities, and entire nations.

SERVIR works with USAID and NASA’s broad network of partners in more than 50 countries to strengthen the skills needed to monitor and manage climate risks, such as extreme weather events and threats to food and water security. Thanks to these partnering agencies, SERVIR connects with local experts to ensure that satellite data is used to create services that are tailored to local contexts and needs and used by decision-makers.

In its approach to climate change, SERVIR also prioritizes open science principles to foster more inclusive climate action.  By sharing research findings and data publicly, SERVIR supports scientists and the public to develop new insights, tools, and strategies for protecting the environment. 

Example of SERVIR’s work to address climate change

  • In Senegal, Earth observation data is being used to help guide herders and their cattle to water during the dry season thanks to a service that shares the location of watering holes via text messages and local radio broadcasts. This service helps pastoralists have year-round access to water and forage for their livestock.
  • In Peru, illegal mining causes deforestation and creates water and soil pollution, harming the ecosystems that support nearby communities. SERVIR partners use data and satellite imagery to generate near real-time alerts about where mining may be taking place. Local authorities and community leaders use this information to address these problems.
  • In Bangladesh and Nepal, the High Impact Weather Assessment Toolkit (HIWAT) enhances the capacity of the countries’ weather agencies to provide more reliable forecasts of severe weather. This includes hazards that were previously more difficult to forecast, like flashfloods, lightning and hail. HIWAT provides critical information to early warning systems - cost-effective tools that help save lives and reduce economic losses.

How SERVIR Addresses Climate Change

In line with the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), USAID’s climate strategy and NASA’s climate strategy, SERVIR’s services address the drivers and impacts of climate change within two broad categories: climate mitigation and climate adaptation.

Climate mitigation addresses the root causes of climate change, specifically the reduction and prevention of greenhouse gas emissions. SERVIR’s mitigation efforts primarily fall within our Ecosystem and Carbon Management service area. For example, SERVIR engages in land cover mapping that supports countries’ ability to manage forests and report greenhouse gas emissions as required by international climate agreements. Other services protect mangrove habitats that retain carbon, harbor biodiversity, and help provide a natural sea wall to protect communities from coastal flooding. 

Climate adaptation is the process of proactively adjusting to the effects of climate change in order to reduce climate vulnerability, moderate harm, and even seek beneficial opportunities. Climate adaptation outcomes strengthen resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, including climate impacts to food security, water security, livelihoods, biodiversity and ecological systems. 

Examples of SERVIR’s adaptation efforts include improving the climate resilience of agriculture and water resources and supporting disaster risk reduction. Within our service areas, SERVIR’s adaptation efforts generally fall under the themes of Agriculture and Food Security, Air Quality and Health, Water Security, and Weather and Climate. 

Given the interconnectedness of systems and environments, nature-based solutions are essential to both adapt to and mitigate climate change. Nature-based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, or restore ecosystems to address societal challenges while simultaneously providing benefits for people and the environment. Many of SERVIR’s projects reduce emissions, enhance carbon storage by conserving and restoring ecosystems, and help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. Read about more about our climate mitigation and adaptation work  here: Strengthening Climate Resilience from Space 

Photo credit: AST Spera