ADC4SD: Armenian Data Cube for Sustainable Development

Pressures on natural resources are increasing and many challenges need to be overcome to meet the needs of a growing population in a period of environmental variability. Some of these environmental issues can be monitored using remotely-sensed Earth Observations (EO) that are increasingly available from various freely and openly accessible repositories. EO data acquired by satellites are helpful to monitor environmental changes providing synoptic, consistent, spatially explicit, sufficiently detailed information to capture anthropogenic impacts, and national in scope. This can provide the long baseline required to determine trends, define present, and inform future. However, the full information potential of EO data has not been yet realized and remain still underutilized mainly because of their complexity, increasing volume, and the lack of efficient processing capabilities.

Earth Observations Data Cubes (EODC) have emerged as a paradigm revolutionizing the way users interact with EO data. They minimize the time and scientific knowledge required to access, prepare and analyze large volume of data having consistent and spatially aligned calibrated observations.

Switzerland is the second country in the world to have a national-scale EODC. The Swiss Data Cube (SDC – is supported by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and developed, implemented and operated by the UN Environment (UNEP)/GRID-Geneva in partnership with the University of Geneva (UNIGE). Currently, the SDC contains 34 years of Landsat 5,7,8 (1984-2018) and 3 years of Sentinel-2 (2015-2018) Analysis Ready Data over Switzerland (total volume: 3TB; 110 billion observations).

Armenia, one of the most industrialized post-soviet country, encounters numerous environmental issues. Since 90s, the economic policy shifted towards a strong support to industrial development greatly ignoring environmental interests. In 2016, Armenia has initiated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) nationalization process and encounters various problems caused by the lack of sufficient data impeding efficient national environmental monitoring. Alternative means need to be developed to fill this gap. Therefore, EODC represents a promising solution for continuous remote environmental monitoring in Armenia. However, technical capacities of Armenian institutions need to be improved to benefit from the new possibilities offered by EODC.

The main objective of ADC4SD will be to transfer the necessary knowledge from Switzerland to Armenia for developing and implementing the first version of an Armenian Data Cube (ADC) with a complete and up-to-date archive of EO data (e.g., Landsat, Sentinel-1&2), benefiting from UNIGE’s experience in implementing the SDC.

Synergies will be created between leading research teams in both countries empowering Armenian scientists to benefit from EO data by lowering the barriers caused by Big Data challenges and providing access to spatio-temporal data over the entire Armenia. Ultimately, the ACD4SD project will deliver a unique capability to track changes in unprecedented detail using EO data, enabling more effective responses to problems of national significance.

The project will be implemented by organizing three one-week meetings so that participants can efficiently work together. Regular teleconferences will be organized to foster exchanges and share updates. A final meeting/event will be organized to showcase the ACD to local stakeholders. Finally, we plan to submit one peer-reviewed article in a high-impact open-access journal.