The Baltic region is experiencing a range of different pressures driven by climate change and other factors. These affect the environment and related socioeconomic activities in the region: e.g., ocean oxygen deficiency, increased temperature, changed ocean salinity and increased acidification are expected to have impacts on the marine ecosystem in several ways and may erode its resilience. There is an increasing need for adaptive management strategies in the Baltic area (e.g. for forestry, agriculture, urban complexes and the marine environment), which deal with both climate change but also with emissions of nutrients, aerosols, carbon dioxide and other anthropogenic drivers. At the same time, the Baltic region is experiencing rapid economic expansion with new transport and energy infrastructure, expanding demand for natural resources and increased stress on the natural environment due to tourism, energy generation, waste streams, pollution and habitat modification.

In this context, Earth Observation (EO) represents an opportunity to support innovative science, applications and information services to face some of these issues, while at the same time acting as a potential catalyser for innovation and growth in the region.

We are entering a new era for EO science and applications driven by the step change in observation capacity offered by the Sentinel missions, the opportunities for novel science offered by the Earth Explorer series and the capabilities to accurately characterise long term processes based on existing archives spanning more than 25 years of EO data acquisition. To maximize the full exploitation of this unprecedented ability of space-borne Earth monitoring by the scientific community, industry and the public sector, dedicated research and development efforts are required, complemented by ensuring that the required data access, processing and analysis capabilities are in place. 

The focus of this workshop is to assess the opportunities for regionally focussed EO research and development, downstream activities and ICT evolution in the Baltic that may be the basis for future ESA investments to address some of the key information needs of this important area. These opportunities will be framed with respect to emerging Earth science, development of novel applications, testing innovative information services and implementing required upgrades to capabilities to manage and manipulate large data volumes.

The main output of the project will be a Workshop Report summarising the main findings and recommendations for dedicated scientific activities, applications development, service innovation and underlying ICT capabilities for a wide spectrum of users (scientific, institutional, private sector, international bodies). This report will support ESA in defining future investments in EO research and development activities to foster EO innovation in the Baltic region and launch a dedicated Baltic initiative in 2017.

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