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NEW IMBIE study: Greenland ice sheet is losing mass seven times faster than expected

The Greenland ice sheet is losing mass seven times faster than in the 1990s, according to new research. 

paper published today in Nature details how the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE) team, led by Andrew Shepherd from the University of Leeds and Erik Ivins at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory present the results of the most complete picture of Greenland ice loss to date.

The study was co-authored by reseachers working on Climate Change Initiative Antarctica and Greenland ice sheet projects and compared and combined data from 11 satellites – including ESA’s ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat and CryoSat missions, as well as the EU’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 missions – to monitor changes in the ice sheet’s volume, flow and gravity.

New biomass map taking stock of the world's carbon

The ESA Climate Change Initiative officially released the first in a series of global Above Ground Biomass maps today at the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) side event at COP25 in Madrid.Global 2017/18 map of Above ground Biomass derived from satellite data

European Space Agency provides a global perspective of the changing climate from space at COP25, Madrid

ESA is an Observer organisation at the United Nations climate conference (COP 25).

Here, Susanne Mecklenburg, Head of ESA Climate Office, discusses the role of the Agency in advancing the understanding of the planet’s climate, and how it may change in the future today [3 December] in Madrid today.

Interview Transcript below

New salinity maps reveal the impact of climate variability on oceans

Global sea surface salinity 2012 and 2017Since the saltiness of ocean surface waters is a key variable in the climate system, understanding how this changes is important to understanding climate change. Thanks to ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, scientists now have better insight into sea-surface salinity with the most complete global dataset ever produced from space.

The CCI's Sea Surface Salinity research team, led by Jacqueline Boutin of LOCEAN and Nicolas Reul of IFREMER, has merged data from three satellite missions to create a global timeseries that spans nine years, with maps produced every week and every month at a spatial resolution of 50 km.

Understanding coastal sea level change: products available

Sea level change represents a hazard for populations inhabiting coastal zones.  Yet current knowledge is limited as absolute sea level changes at the coast may differ significantly from open ocean due to a number of reasons, including coastal dynamics and atmospheric forcing. Relative sea level will also be affected by vertical land movement, for instance subsidence.

Regional sea level trends over July 2002-June 2016 from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) sea level products.The Sea Level_cci project team present results of contemporary coastal sea level changes along the coast of Western Africa, obtained from a dedicated reprocessing of satellite altimetry data in a recent paper by Marti et al (2019).

The publication describes high sampling rate (20 Hz) sea level data from the Jason-1 and Jason-2 missions over a 14-year-long time span. 

New head joins the ESA Climate Office

Susanne Mecklenburg, Head of the ESA Climate Office

Dr Susanne Mecklenburg has been appointed as the new Head of the ESA Climate Office, joining the team last month [September, 2019].

Based at ECSAT, in the United Kingdom, the ESA Climate Office is the focal point for climate-related activities for the Agency and works to increase the use of satellite-based Earth Observation data in climate science, primarily through the delivery of ESA’s Climate Change Initiative.

She joined ESA in 2007 where she fulfilled roles as mission manager for two high profile environment and climate monitoring satellites, ESA’s Earth Explorer Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS), now in its tenth year, and Sentinel-3, developed as part of the Copernicus Programme.

Career Opportunity: Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) on Exploiting Earth Observation for Climate Research

A new Research Fellowship (postdoc) position is open within the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes.

The successful candidate will contribute to the activities of the the European Space Agency's Climate Office, based in ECSAT, Harwell, United Kingdom, in cooperation with relevant scientific projects within ESA's Climate Change Initiative programme.

The main activities of the ESA Climate Office main activities include:

Using radar backscatter and AI for better maps of burned area

ESA’s Climate Change Initiative Fire project team introduces a self-adapting algorithm for detecting fire burned area in a paper published online this month in Remote Sensing of Environment. The team say their proposal is particularly helpful for tracking the impact of fire on tropical forests, which are usually shrouded in cloud and difficult to study using optical satellite imagery.

Fires are a natural part of ecosystems but humans can also have a strong role in their frequency and severity, with logging linked to fire occurrence in the tropical forests of Indonesia, for example.

Monitoring changes in the global frequency and extent of land affected by fire is important to better understand fire’s contribution to the build-up of carbon dioxide and methane concentrations in the atmosphere, which cause global warming. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) identifies fire disturbance as an essential climate variable for characterizing the climate system. 

Techniques for mapping burned area remotely have typically relied on passive optical and thermal-wavelength sensors, which cannot observe areas obscured by clouds. This new algorithm uses Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar backscatter data to detect changes to the landscape caused by fire, with the advantage that it doesn’t depend on sunlight or cloud cover. 

State of the Climate report features CCI datasets

An authoritative review of the world’s climate highlights ESA Climate Change Initiative datasets in a number of key climate indicators.  

The annual ‘State of the Climate’ report, led by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate, is an international, peer-reviewed publication of the Bulletin of the American Meterological Society (BAMS).

The September 2019 edition cites CCI Soil Moisture, Cloud, and Ozone in its broad analysis of how climate around the globe has changed over the past 12 months compared with the preceding decades. 

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