10 Years of the CEMS Copernicus Emergency Management Services

 10 Years of the CEMS Copernicus Emergency Management Services

This summer, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) celebrated a decade of operation as a world leader in emergency mapping, early warning tools and open-access disaster information.

For the past ten years, Copernicus CEMS has provided a truly global service as the world’s only fully operation emergency mapping service at no cost to users and with open access data.

Some highlights on the contribution of CEMS in global disaster risk management activities:

  • 576 Rapid Mapping Activations with 5,500+ maps delivered
  • Designed and implemented the world’s first Global Flood Monitoring tool
  • Ten years of wildfire forecasts up to ten days into the future
  • Average of 200+ flood and 500+ flash flood notifications to Member States and authorised users each year
  • Current and historical database of 7,000+ drought episodes since 1950

Disaster management professionals require timely, unbiased and accurate data on forecasted and ongoing disaster to make effective decisions. CEMS offers this through geospatial products based on satellite and ground-based measurements that forecast, monitor and analyse disasters.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre is entrusted with the technical and administrative management of the service. This scientific ecosystem, supported by research and industrial partners, enables CEMS to deliver timely and quality-controlled products to disaster risk reduction and emergency management operators across the globe.

State-of-the-art scientific accuracy for complex disaster management

Copernicus CEMS products provide information about a disaster event on a scale, timeline, and perspective that can only be acquired through geospatial information. CEMS products can analyse changes to an area of Earth over a series of days, weeks, months or years. This helps authorities pinpoint affected areas by identifying changes e.g. from one day to the next. The products can be quickly shared among all agencies involved in an incident to enable timely and consistent response actions.

CEMS addresses disasters caused by natural hazards (floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, storms, droughts, etc.), as well as man-made hazards (industrial accidents, oil spills, etc.) inside and outside of the EU.

Data and tools for disaster and risk management

First responders, humanitarian actors, and civil protection mechanisms have a wide range of needs when addressing the many types, and often compounding effects, of disasters. CEMS offers 9 service components to address each phase of the risk and disaster management cycle along with capacities to analyse nearly any type of disaster. Most components of CEMS operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round.

Copernicus CEMS components include: 

  • Rapid Mapping, which delivers ready-to-print maps and geospatial digital data sets within hours following a disaster to rapidly visualise the extent and impact of an event.
  • Risk and Recovery Mapping, which supports the preparedness, prevention and restoration of affected areas.          
  • The European and Global Flood awareness systems, which provide flood hazard and impact forecast information for Europe and the rest of the world. It addresses riverine floods as well as flash floods, while also providing continuous global flood monitoring.
  • The European Forest Fire Information System, which forecasts and monitors wildfire risk and activity in near real-time and supports wildfire management authorities. 
  • The European and Global Drought Observatories, which provide relevant information and early-warnings for droughts along with forecasts for both Europe and the rest of the world. 
  • The Global Human Settlement Layer, which provides data, tools and analytics to understand and quantify population presence and activity. 
  • The Validation component, which ensures the quality of CEMS products and fosters the continuous improvement of CEMS services. 

EU policy for a safer European community

CEMS is implemented by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in a cooperation with the European Commission departments responsible for European Civil protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and for Defence industry and Space (DEFIS). The service was one of the first Copernicus services to become operational. The CEMS components of Rapid Mapping, Risk & Recovery Mapping and the European Flood Awareness System began their operational service delivery in 2012. In the years following, new components were added for Validation, the European Forest Fire Information System, the Global Flood Awareness System, the European and Global Drought Observatories as well as the exposure mapping component.

Information and data produced by CEMS provides essential situational awareness during the full cycle of the disaster management, from prevention and mitigation to relief and restoration of damages.

On the prevention and mitigation side, CEMS provides crucial information to assess the risk of floods, wildfires and droughts, which supports prevention and increases preparedness measures at the national and EU level through the European Commission departments responsible for European Civil protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), for EU policy on regions and cities (REGIO), for the environment (ENV), for international partnership and development policy (INTPA), in Europe, and at the international level through the European Union’s diplomatic service (EEAS).

Copernicus CEMS Fire Hazard map (2021)
Copernicus CEMS Fire Hazard map of July 2021 (source: Copernicus)

CEMS supports civil protection services and other dedicated actors such as forestry, wildfire management and water authorities globally. Additionally, the service provides timely information to the Emergency Response Coordinating Centre (ERCC) and ECHO.

CEMS support to national civil protection authorities and the ERCC optimises the collaboration between the Member States and Participating States of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The service also helps improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the coordination between affected countries as well as between the European Commission and the national administrations.  

Did you know that CEMS has even been used for forecast-based financing for Red Cross humanitarian efforts to ensure relief funds are made available to vulnerable countries head of a disaster, saving critical time in the distribution of aid supplies and recourses?

Spaces to watch Copernicus CEMS action and evolution

Join this year’s CEMS General Assembly from 13 to 14 October (International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction) to hear from scientists, policy makers and service users. This virtual and open event invites the public to participate in discussions and attend presentations that will steer the future of CEMS and its partnerships.

Follow CEMS on Twitter @CopernicusEMS to receive the latest information on activations, publications and career opportunities.

Check out the CEMS website to use open-access tools, learn how to become an authorised user and reference CEMS open access-data published in real time.

Read more about Copernicus CEMS

3 Weeks, 12 Copernicus EMS Wildfire Activations

Call for Tender for Copernicus EMS

100th activation of CEMS Risk and Recovery Mapping

Copernicus Emergency Management Service activated for Dutch floods

The original article was published on the EU JRC website on 21 June 2022

Remco Timmermans

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