First Symposium on Policy Research


Emerging issues in using space for managing the planet: policy, law, and economics

Ray A. Williamson, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University, Washington, DC; and H. R. Hertzfeld

Observations of Earth from the vantage point of space has reached the point where they now contributes significantly to the ability of governments and private industry to reduce costs and increase the benefits from knowledge of future variations in terrestrial weather and climate. Given planned improvements to spacecraft sensors, the capacity to manage regional and global natural resources by these means promises to improve dramatically over the next two decades. More effective and efficient use of weather and climate information will be required as countries around the world attempt to improve their standards of living in a sustainable way. In particular, information must be delivered quickly, inexpensively, and in user-friendly packages to the ultimate end user, who is generally unfamiliar with space systems, needs only the analyzed information, and has few incentives to become expert in either space activities or meteorology.

This paper explores the policy framework by which the United States manages its Earth observations program and suggests ways in which to make the policy framework more “user friendly”. Using several examples from recent policy research at the Space Policy Institute, this paper examines the socioeconomic value of several applications of Earth observations from space and examines how the United States might improve the policy, legal, and regulatory process by which it moves Earth observations from space (merged with in situ and other data) into useful weather and climate information products for the ultimate end user.


Session 1, Policy Research in the Earth System Sciences
Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, A307

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