ESA Climate Change Initiative
Wed, 2010-09-01 11:03
Climate change is arguably the greatest environmental challenge facing us in the twenty-first century. Its importance has been recognised in reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Wed, 2010-09-01 11:03
Climate change is arguably the greatest environmental challenge facing us in the twenty-first century. Its importance has been recognised in reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The consequences of a warming climate are far-reaching, potentially affecting fresh water resources, global food production and sea level. Threatening impacts on the natural environment and life on Earth for generations to come, climate change is high on political, strategic and economic agendas worldwide.
Observations from space provide unique information that greatly assist in the successful understanding and management of climate change. The global coverage and continuous measurements that satellites can provide already give researchers vital information about the climate system. However, satellite data is often limited by a lack of homogeneity and continuity, and by insufficient understanding of the products and their uncertainties. These data are not always adequately preserved over long periods of time, making it hard to put together a reliable long term record.
Over the last decade, the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), in support of the UNFCCC, have put together a set of requirements for satellite data to meet the needs of the climate change community. These are broken down into key parameters of the Earth system, or 'Essential Climate Variables' (ECVs) as they are known. The specifications given by GCOS for each ECV data product are designed to provide information to characterise the state of the global climate system and enable long-term climate monitoring.
The ESA Climate Change Initiative Programme
To respond to this need for climate-quality satellite data, the European Space Agency (ESA) have set up a new programme, the ESA Climate Change Initiative. A €75m programme, it will run from 2009 - 2016 and consist of three stages: requirement analysis, algorithm development and prototype ECV building; ECV production and system development; and user analysis and feedback.
The aim of the programme is:
To realise the full potential of the long-term global Earth Observation archives that ESA, together with its member states, has established over the last thirty years, as a significant and timely contribution to the ECV databases required by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The goal is to provide stable, long-term, satellite-based ECV data products for climate modellers and researchers. The ECVs will be derived from multiple satellite data sets (not just ESA but all sources via international collaboration) and include specific information on the errors and uncertainties of the data set. Comprehensive information will also be provided on calibration and validation, long term algorithm maintenance, data curation and reprocessing. The Climate Change Initiative will bring together European expertise covering the full range of scientific, technical and development specialisations available within the European Earth Observation community, and will establish lasting and transparent access for global climate scientific and operational communities to its results.
For further information on the CCI, please download a copy of the ESA CCI Description (pdf).