Chinese researchers use satellite data to monitor desert locusts

Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2020 shows a cloud of locusts flying in Mwingi North, Kenya. A number of East African countries are suffering serious locust infestation, with Kenya experiencing its worst in 70 years, which, if left unchecked, could grow 500 times in scale by June, a UN spokesman said Friday. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said besides Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are undergoing their worst locust infestation in 25 years, and that Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda and Tanzania are also experiencing swarm activity and locust breeding, while the risk of spread to South Sudan is high. (Xinhua/Fred Mutune)

Chinese researchers used satellite and meteorological data to monitor movements of desert locusts and offer early warnings, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Researchers from the Aerospace Information Research Institute of the CAS analyzed satellite data generated by China’s Gaofen series satellites, Landsat from the United States, and European Space Agency’s Sentinel.

They combined the data with global meteorological data and plant protection survey data and processed the data with pest prediction model and big data analysis on the digital earth science platform.They conducted research on the temporal and spatial distribution of desert locusts’ reproduction and migration in Africa in February and made predictions on their migration to China. Results showed that considering the influence of the Northeast Monsoon and the barriers of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the possibility of desert locusts swarming into China is now relatively small.

But if the desert locusts in Pakistan and India are not effectively controlled and expand to Nepal and Myanmar, there will be a risk of desert locusts invading southwest China’s Yunnan and Tibet from around May to June. China needs to carry out dynamic monitoring and early warning of large-scale desert locusts, and make joint prevention and control efforts with other countries, according to the team.

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