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Contributions of Land Remote Sensing for Decisions about Food Security and Human Health: Workshop Report 4 Key Points of Workshop Discussion The ability of land remote sensing, in combination with other types of data, to identify variables such as land cover, responses of vegetation to climate variability, and locations of human infrastructure, provides critical information in forecasting and determining appropriate responses to human and animal disease outbreaks, food shortages, and other consequences for vulnerable populations. Applications of land remote sensing to monitor crop yields, enable precision agriculture, and identify impending food shortages in developing countries offer successful examples. The use of remote sensing data for human health is not as advanced as for food security beyond a few case studies, although the potential is great. Workshop participants identified three themes that, if fostered, would help realize the potential for the application of land remote sensing to decisions about human welfare: (1) integration of spatial data on environmental conditions derived from remote sensing with socioeconomic data; (2) communication between remote sensing scientists and decision makers to determine the effective use of land remote sensing data for human welfare issues; and (3) acquisition and access to long-term environmental data and development of the capacity to interpret these data. Most workshop participants believed that it is critical to integrate remotely sensed data with ground-based scientific and socioeconomic data. These data, combined, provide the necessary basis for reliable environmental modeling and forecasting. Just as important is the need for increased communication between the different producers of these data, as well as decision makers. Communication is vital during all phases of
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Contributions of Land Remote Sensing for Decisions about Food Security and Human Health: Workshop Report developing monitoring and decision support systems, in order to ensure that the right data are obtained, analyzed, and disseminated in useful ways, at useful time scales, and to the right people. Most workshop participants said that the effective application of remotely sensed data in decisions about human welfare could be improved only if the remotely sensed observations currently made continue to be collected and are enhanced by new observations. Data collected over the long term are vital to understanding and characterizing longer-period environmental cycles. Because of the highly technical nature of the topic, the workshop committee decided that a different venue would be more appropriate to address the specific technical issues in integrating disparate data types into decision support systems that address human welfare, although most participants believed that this topic is vital for improving the effectiveness of decision support systems. The committee includes a bibliography of resources on this topic as Appendix B. The workshop underscored the large, unrealized potential of remotely sensed data to a range of human welfare issues that, if developed, could parallel the significant advances in the use of remotely sensed data in the Earth sciences and global climate research in the past several decades.
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