Earth from space: South Georgia Island

Hi I’m Keira Ives-Keeler and welcome to this week’s edition of the Earth from Space programme from the ESA Web TV Studios. This week, the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over South Georgia island. This British Overseas Territory, together with the South Sandwich Islands, is located in the southern Atlantic Ocean and is a haven for a vast array of wildlife. Around five million seals call the islands home, as well as 65 million birds of 30 different species. Migrating whales and various fish species populate the surrounding waters and there is a large penguin population. First discovered by Captain James Cook in 1775, there is no permanent human population on
the islands, due to their remote location and inhospitable environment. Nevertheless, a British Antarctic Survey research station operates in the capital, King Edward Point, in the centre of the island. This is a centre for applied fisheries research, whilst on Bird Island, lying off the north-west tip of South Georgia, scientists and support staff focus on research into bird and seal biology. As we can see clearly in the image, the island is mostly covered in snow, and has a polar climate, with short and very cold summers, and long, freezing, and overcast winters. The rugged landscapes of the islands are often said to leave visitors in awe, with two mountain ranges dominating the Allardyce towards the middle of the island and Salvesen in the south. Conservation efforts include the designation of one of the world’s largest sustainable use Marine Protected Areas in 2012 by the Government. Significant investment has also been made in fisheries management and scientific research, as well as targeted conservation efforts to help protect the albatross. South Georgia is home to the Wandering Albatross the largest flying bird species in the world. Sentinel-2 is a two-satellite mission to supply the coverage and data delivery needed for Europe’s Copernicus programme. The mission’s frequent revisits over the same area and high spatial resolution allow changes in inland water bodies and the coastal environment to be closely monitored. That’s all for this week’s edition of the Earth from Space programme. I’m Keira Ives-Keeler and we’ll see you again after the holidays!

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