ECC Decisions to help environmental satellites

Environmental satellites are of major importance to the scientific community. They are 'passive' in that they do not transmit signals, but instead receive and gather vital measurement data. One type uses the 10.6 GHz band to monitor rain, snow, sea state, and soil moisture. Similar services use a higher frequency (the 31.3-31.5 GHz band) to gather information on temperature and other atmospheric parameters. Another range is 1400-1427 MHz to monitor sea surface salinity (also soil moisture).

This data helps scientists to gain a clearer picture of climate change and can be crucial in the prediction of certain natural disasters, as well as more routine forecasting and other aspects of earth exploration. These satellite services are typically non-commercial and need to be protected from interference to continue their valuable work in environmental monitoring.

The ECC's March 2011 meeting in Porto adopted the last of three Decisions which support this fight against climate change and predicting natural disaster (the others were adopted in November 2010 in Luxembourg). The Decisions aim to keep these passive satellite services free from interference.

Fixed and mobile services on the same frequency (at 10.6 GHz) and adjacent bands (at 31.3-31.5 GHz and 1400-1427 MHz) may cause interference to these sensing systems, and the new ECC Decision places tighter limits on this interference to enable the satellite services to function more effectively. The ECC believes that by translating the tighter limits on the mobile and fixed services into regulatory requirements within an ECC Decision, this will send a clear message that these important frequencies will be protected in the long term, and that Europe recognises the societal and economic values of these spectrum-based applications.

The Decision is consistent with the EU Radio Spectrum Policy Group's policy Opinion on a 'coordinated EU Spectrum approach for scientific use of radio spectrum', and it complements this with a clear technical framework which can apply across the wider 48-country CEPT area.

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