On 22 November the ERATOSTHENES Centre of Excellence (ECoE) was launched in Limassol, Cyprus. Over the course of the next seven years it is expected to become a leading digital innovation centre (DIH) for earth observation and geodata. Its purpose is to thoroughly investigate the effects of global change on climate, land use, and society in the eastern Mediterranean, Near East and North Africa. Experts from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) are contributing to the centre's establishment.
At the opening event for the EXCELSIOR project, the president of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades, was presented with a hospitality gift from DLR by Gunter Schreier, deputy director of DFD and head of the DLR portion of the project.
In the EU EXCELSIOR project a consortium consisting of Athens National Observatory (NOA), the Cyprus Ministry of Telecommunications (DEC), DLR, and TROPOS is supporting the expansion of the Eratosthenes Excellence Group at the University of Technology in Limassol into an independent Center of Excellence for Remote Sensing. President Anastasiadis and representatives of the German embassy also joined in formally launching on 22 November the establishment of the center in Limassol.
President Anastasiades assured that all relevant public authorities in Cyprus "will provide every conceivable kind of support to establish the Eratosthenes Center of Excellence as a first-class research and innovation centre, a reference centre in Europe for earth observation in the eastern Mediterranean, in the Near East, and in North Africa". He also congratulated the three internationally recognized partners in the EXCELSIOR Project, among them DLR, and emphasized his deep appreciation for their determination and efforts to submit such an important proposal, which achieved a top ranking.
The new centre will be involved in three areas: Environment and Climate (atmosphere, agriculture, water, land), Resilience and Society (disaster risk reduction, cultural legacy, marine safety, energy), and "Big Data" in Earth Observation (information extraction, visual exploration, visualisation, crowd sourcing and data fusion, geoinformatics). The goal is to make the harbor city of Limassol a place where researchers from all over the world can interact, and the base for a future innovation centre in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Cyprus Ministry of Telecommunications, which is involved in this endeavour, will cultivate contacts with users at the government level. Athens National Observatory (NOA) will primarily contribute its experience in large joint projects focusing on earth observation and global change in the eastern Mediterranean region. Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) will set up a ground-based remote sensing system for dust and clouds and integrate it in a global monitoring network. DLR's Earth Observation Center will facilitate construction of a satellite ground station to acquire raw data from various earth observation satellites, which should make possible more precise forecasts for this region.
The two institutes comprising DLR's Earth Observation Center (DFD and IMF) are responsible for the DLR component of EXCELSIOR. Engineers and scientists from DFD in Neustrelitz will support the new centre to design and construct its own satellite receiving station on Cyprus. Together with the IMF working group in Bremen, new methodologies and technologies for near-real-time monitoring of maritime events in the eastern Mediterranean will be demonstrated. In courses for specialists and demonstration projects arranged jointly with the new centre, DFD and IMF scientists in Oberpfaffenhofen will contribute to the project their expertise in data processing and mapping environmental changes based on satellite data.
The European Commission will provide of financial support for the center amounting to 15 million euros over seven years (grant number 857510). Of this sum, DLR and TROPOS will each receive about 10 percent. The Republic pf Cyprus will contribute 15 million euros over 15 years. Additional support is forthcoming from the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT).