An important consideration regarding climate change data for the purpose of research and monitoring was brought up by Dr. Ponczek, who highlights that Brazil has the relevant policy of making data available, open access and hence free of charge, especially for researchers and scientists. These data are also available to the general population, who can access data and research from university platforms, government research bodies such as the National Institute for Space Research (INPE in Portuguese), and NGOs.
The database contains data from satellites and platforms that monitor deforestation, such as those by the INPE itself, and land use mappings, as well as land cover, like MapBiomas for example, available to be downloaded, extracted and processed for analysis and monitoring of changes in land use by any citizen. These data are crucial to Brazil because deforestation is the biggest ‘villain’ in the country regarding overall climate change. This is so because deforestation promotes methane gas emissions into the atmosphere, preventing photosynthesis processes. The importance of the data relates also to monitoring forest fires and other types of fires, which release aerosols in the Amazon and other biomes.
In Germany, this opening up process started a few years ago, complying with recent laws. Dr. Bartoschek highlights the greater difficulty, complexity and the sometimes-high costs of data gathering due to different regulatory mechanisms related to information accessibility – a very recent development. Maps, satellite images, and area photographs are not only difficult, expensive and challenging to locate, but also to access, obtain and download as complete data. Dr. Bartoschek emphasizes that this complexity takes time to prepare and obtain data, but is extremely important for climate change analyses. That is why the German weather service, which collects long-term data, recently opened the platform, forced by law, and is providing access to information. Likewise, the federal environmental agency is also making information accessible, but mainly in PDF format, which limits opening and working on the data made available. Despite this hindrance, this recent development is a move forward.
The present reflection on existing data for environmental and climate change analysis can be completed by highlighting the importance of projects in which not only scientists and researchers but also students and the general population can generate their own database, have access to official databases, upload and download data, and consult satellite images. As these individuals become able to work with these data, learning how to use the information for various research, analysis and knowledge generation purposes, this can be regarded as an important tool to increase the level of action and awareness in society, so that individuals can act locally as true scientific citizens who can make their contribution to the improvement of climatic, environmental and social conditions, without having to wait for governmental initiatives.