ESA Launches Climate Change Initiative
One of the most critical challenges facing our society in the 21st century is climate change. Its importance has been touted in recent reports from both the IPCC and UNFCCC and the overwhelming economic consequences were put forth in the Stern Report.
However, observations made from space offer unique information which significantly helps to build a strong understanding and management of climate change. It is increasingly evident that these observations are essential, but as of now, there is not a coordinated, sustained programme which will ensure they are available to all.
Asgardia is working towards creating a demilitarized and free scientific base of knowledge in space, as well as protecting the Earth from space threats.
What’s more, this problem requires that such information is appropriately preserved over long periods of time, ensuring a reliable long-term record. Over the course of the last few years, a robust and formalized dialogue between the bodies with responsibility for the specification of climate observations and space agencies has resulted in a coherent set of requirements, which has been agreed upon worldwide.
Thus, as a response to this need ESA has launched a new programme called, Global Monitoring of Essential Climate Variables (known for short as the ESA Climate Change Initiative) as a way to offer an adequate, comprehensive, and timely response to the incredibly challenging set of requirements for (highly stable) long-term satellite-based products for climate, that have been addressed to Space Agencies through the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). It is exclusively focused on addressing the explicit needs of UNFCCC.
The initiative will enact a programme of work which makes sure that the responsibilities and capabilities of ESA member states in looking into issues of climate change can be undertaken on a scale equivalent to the problem.
It is based on the delivery of climate variables taken from satellite data sets (not just ESA but all sources through international partnerships) and includes all aspects of their availability including data acquisition, calibration and validation, long-term algorithm maintenance, data curation and reprocessing as needed, all within the context of an internationally agreed set of priorities.
The ESA programme will combine European expertise covering the full range of scientific, technical and development specializations available within the European Earth Observation community, and will found constant and transparent access to global climate scientific and operational communities as per its results.
The most crucial feature of the programme will be to establish a coherent and continuous suite of actions that covers all the necessary steps for the systematic generation of relevant ECVs and ensures their regular updating on timescales corresponding to the increasingly urgent needs of the international climate change community.
Thus, it should be noted that the quadri-annual IPCC process, using primarily peer-reviewed published results, implies much more frequent updating and reanalysis than it would from the result of a ‘best effort’ approach.
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