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Future Earth and ESA release call for COP26 Research demonstrators

Future Earth has released a call for proposals of Research demonstrators for the UNFCCC COP26, in partnership with the European Space Agency.

This open call seeks proposals for the production of research demonstrators to show how research data can be used by end users, make an impact on policy and/or facilitate commercial or operational uptake of the research.

Of particular note is the requirement that proposals include the use of ESA CCI data, and that lead applicants represent the Future Earth Global Research Projects (GRPs) and Knowledge Action Networks (KANs) as active members, obtaining a letter of support from their GRP or KAN International Project Office.

New Soil Moisture data products released

cci soil moisture logoThe CCI Soil Moisture project has released new product datasets. Version 04.7 extends the ACTIVE, PASSIVE and COMBINED for additional 12 months, now providing global soil moisture data up to 31-12-2019.

The current product version is based on the algorithm v04.4, although differences in the input datasets occur. At v04.7, updated L2 products for both passive and active products are used. These changes result in only minor data flagging alterations and v04.7 is otherwise similar to v04.5. Detailed descriptions of the production process, ESA CCI SM algorithm and input datasets are available in the relevant documentation.

To gain access to the ESA CCI SM v04.7 products, please fill out the registration form and follow the instructions in the registration email.

WMO State of the Global Climate in 2019 report highlights several contributions from ESA CCI

The World Meteorological Organization released its Statement on the State of the Global Climate forWMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019 2019 this week (10 March) to outline the signs and impacts of climate change in the atmosphere, land and oceans. Data from ESA CCI were highlighted from the CCI Sea Level project and in a sea ice product citing CCI Sea Ice

The report highlights low sea ice extent in its key messages alongside high mean global temperature, record high levels for ocean heat content and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, and the recent acceleration in global mean sea level.

2019 was the second warmest year in the instrumental record, with global average air temperature at 1.1°C above estimated pre-industrial levels, second only to the record set in 2016 due to a strong El Niño event.

Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases were summarized for 2018: these have reached new highs, with globally averaged mole fractions of carbon dioxide (CO2) at 407.8±0.1 parts per million (ppm), methane (CH4) at 1869±2 parts per billion (ppb) and nitrous oxide (N2O) at 331.1±0.1 ppb. Preliminary data indicates that greenhouse gas concentrations continued to increase in 2019.

Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice six times faster than in the 1990s, new study shows

The rate of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica is currently on track with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s worst-case climate warming scenario, according to a new study published in the journal Nature today [11 March].

The authors - comprising an international team of polar researchers, including several scientists working on ESA's Climate Change initiative Ice Sheet projects - 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.

The study finds that:

  • Greenland and Antarctica lost 6.4 trillion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017 – pushing global sea levels up by 17.8 millimetres.
  • The combined rate of ice loss has risen by a factor of six in just three decades (since the 1990s)
  • Polar ice sheets are now responsible for a third of all sea level rise.

For the full story visit 

Caption: Antarctica and Greenland’s contribution to sea level change

Burned area trends in the Amazon similar to previous years

A detailed analysis, using data from ESA's Climate Change Initiative, indicates that while there was a small increase of fires in 2019 compared to 2018, fires in Brazil were similar to the average annual number of fires detected over the past 18 years. 

Total burned area in the Amazon - 2019 compared to the 2001-2018 average

- Total burned area in the Amazon - 2019 compared to the 2001-2018 average

NEW PAPER: Burned Area Detection and Mapping: Intercomparison of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 Based Algorithms over Tropical Africa

Optical-based algorithms are significantly more accurate than SAR based algorithms, particularly over regions where persistent cloud cover is not an issue.

This is the key finding of a new study, involving the Fire_cci team, which compared the performance of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 burned area detection and mapping algorithms in tropical and sub-tropical Africa during the 2015–2016 fire seasons.

Tiles used for inter-comparison together with the mean daily cloud cover (2015) and the total burned (2016), according to the FireCCI5.1 global product. The source of the optical imagery used to generate the reference fire perimeters for each of the analysed tiles is also shown.

Picturing permafrost in the Arctic

This animation shows the permafrost extent in the northern hemisphere from 2003 to 2017. The maps, produced by ESA’s Climate Change Initiative permafrost project team led by Annett Bartsch, are providing new insights into thawing permafrost in the Arctic.

Continuous permafrost is defined as a continuous area with frozen material beneath the land surface, except for large bodies of water. None-continuous permafrost is broken up into separate areas and can either be discontinuous, isolated or sporadic. It is considered isolated if less than 10% of the surface has permafrost below, while sporadic means 10%-50% of the surface has permafrost below, while continuous is considered 50%-90%.

Satellite passive microwave sea-ice concentration data set intercomparison: closed ice and ship-based observations

ESA CCI algorithms are included in a systematic inter-comparison of 10 global sea-ice concentration from passive microwave observations for both the Arctic and the Antarctic - including, three new global sea-ice concentration (SIC) climate data records (CDRs), described in Lavergne et al.(2019).

Having compared against global year-round ship-based visual observations of the sea-ice cover and a global wintertime sea ice concentration data set for closed pack ice conditions, the study, led by S. Kern from the University of Hamburg found that the 10 products agree in terms of climate trends for both hemispheres at their native resolution, but differ quite dramatically in terms of sea ice extent and area.

Several factors explain the differences, relating to algorithm used, resolution, and weather filters. The authors urge users to use a filter to work consistently from one satellite to the next.

New global satellite permafrost maps available

The first global and consistent permafrost maps using satellite observations are now available from the ESA’s Climate Change Initiative.

The release of these maps is timely given that the IPCC, in its latest Special Report, highlight the permafrost warming trend (1980-present) has reached record levels. As a consequence, concern is growing that significant amounts of greenhouse gases could be mobilised over the coming decades as it thaws, and potentially amplify global climate change. 

Caption: Animation showing mean annual ground temperature at 2m depth, the standard depth used to indicate the presence of permafrost. Units Kelvin (273K=0°C)

Permafrost is one of 54 Essential Climate Variables used to describe Earth’s climate by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). However, monitoring has relied on in-situ networks to date, which is challenging as permafrost covers a quarter of the northern hemisphere’s land area. Use of Earth Observation data can provide global and spatially consistent permafrost data coverage for this variable, even in the most remote and inaccessible areas.

Satellite sensors cannot detect Permafrost directly, but a dedicated research project, part of the ESA Climate Change Initiative, and led by Annett Bartsch has used complementary satellite measurements of landscape features including land surface temperature and landcoverUsed in tandem with in-situ observations, the data are anticipated to improve the understanding of permafrost dynamics and the ability to model its future climate impact.

The maps provided by the Permafrost_cci team (University of Oslo CryoGrid model) cover the period, 2003-2017 at a spatial resolution of 1km for the parameters, subsurface temperature and the depth of the active layer – the topsoil that thaws during the summer and freezes again during the autumn. Ground temperature data is provided for several depths (0, 1m, 2m, 5m, 10m) and permafrost extent products are also available.

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.

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