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"We live in a golden age for satellite research"


Hakim Abdi is amongst other things physical geographer, researcher, and keen bird watcher, currently featured in the new issue of the Swedish astonomy magazine Populär Astronomi. So what has physical geography to do with space?

Hello Hakim...

...why is a Physical geographer featured in an astronomy magazine?

This interview / profile comes after the Swedish Astronomical Society's festival called "Astronomy Day and Night" when the theme for 2020 was "Earth 2.0". I was a keynote speaker at this festival (See lecture on YouTube) and I talked about how satellites can help us understand the earth better and that we live in a golden age for satellite research,  because we have so many Earth observation satellites in space that it's like a "macroscope" on Earth.

So what is your research connection to space?

I study the earth with satellite data with the objective of understanding how different ecosystems are affected by different factors e.g. climate change, land use, or both. Satellites are perfect for this job because you can use their data to do experiments in large areas. But it is important to check for analysis based on whether the satellite data is correct through fieldwork. Then we can approve this analysis for important societal decisions.

What is your work focus right now?

My research right now is on arid lands and how can we use satellite data to understand the effects of drought on arid lands. Normally, the focus is on drought in northern countries, which is green because there is a strong difference between drought and non-drought times. And the popular understanding about dry countries is that they are normally dry and drought there has no or less effect. But we know that drought has a great effect on these countries especially on savannas when my research is focused on. Satellite data I use has a long record of the earth's vegetation and goes back to 1982 and together with an equally long data record of rain I can connect them to better see how the earth's dry countries react to the difference in rain.


If you want to know more about Hakim and his reserch, read the entire article. It's written in Swedish, and can be found here.