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Understanding Climate Change from Space: ESA’s new initiative at COP19

Posted by Alessia Valentini Thursday, November 14, 2013

“Monitoring the Change” was the title of the Europan Space Agency’s (ESA) side event at COP19 in Warsaw.

Taking part in the event were Dr Carolin Richter from the Global Climate Observing System; Dr Mark Doherty from ESA; Prof Andrew Shepherd  from the University of Leeds; Dr Nick Rayner from the UK Met Office Hadley Centre and Dr Ben Poulter from the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE).

The ESA, together with the other research partners, explained how satellites help to monitor and understand global change by taking examples from the cryosphere, ocean and land. The discussion focused on how systematic long-term satellite data provides a unique global record of climate change, enabling us to successfully understand and manage what is arguably the greatest environmental challenge of the twenty-first century.

ESA underlined that while the global coverage that satellites provide does already give us vital information about the climate system, this data is often limited by a lack of homogeneity and continuity and is 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, has put together a set of requirements for satellite data to meet the needs of the climate change community.

To respond to the need for climate-quality satellite data ESA has set up a new programme, called the ESA Climate Change Initiative, which will run until 2016.  This €75m programme will provide stable, long-term satellite-based data products for climate modellers and researchers.

It 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 to its results.