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Monitoring Climate from Space

Explore our planet from space and learn how Earth observation is used to monitor climate change, with this free online course.

19,977 enrolled on this course

Climate monitoring - Earth viewed from space
  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Satellite Earth Observation technology provides a powerful and compelling insight into climate change which can help to underpin climate policy, scientific research and public engagement. But how does this technology work, and how can it achieve the essential detail and comprehensive worldwide view that we need?

Join Lead Educator Professor Martin Wooster and leading climate experts such as Professor Konrad Steffen, Professor Anny Cazenave, Dr Stephen Briggs and Dr Emily Shuckburgh as they reveal the perspective provided by satellite Earth observation. The course is free and fully flexible - you can progress in step with other learners week by week, or take the course entirely at your own pace, with all materials available indefinitely once you have registered.

The ‘live run’ of the course, allowing you to interact with experts and other learners, will continue until 28th August 2016, and you can register any time up to that date. You can also view and share some ‘highlights’ from the course without registering, using the links at the bottom of this page. This film, the course trailer above and a small selection of other videos are also available with Spanish and Chinese subtitles. Just click on the small pink square in the video controls to select your preferred language.

Introducing Earth observation

Seeing the Earth from space allows us to gain this global perspective. By using Earth observation techniques, we can now monitor global environmental change on a scale that has never before been possible.

Earth observation has not only revolutionised the way we perceive our home, but changed the way we understand our profound impact on the environment. This technology has brought on a transformation in the way we observe, monitor and study our planet.

Learn with experts from ESA and leading European research centres

In this free online course, you will join leading experts and scientists from ESA and key European research centres, to explore the science that underpins Earth observation.

We will look at recent and current satellite missions that are providing an archive of essential data; and find out how this data is used in local and international policy and planning.

The course consists of five themed weeks:

Week 1 - Observing Climate Change from Space

What is Earth observation? How do we observe the Earth with satellites? And what role does Earth observation play in climate policy and planning?

Weeks 2 & 3 - Earth Observation Techniques and Technology

How do we use different types of mission, instrumentation and data to study changes to our atmosphere, land, oceans and ice?

Week 4 - Earth Observation in Action

How does Earth observation help us set policy; plan for climate risk, resilience and adaptation; and manage resources and biodiversity?

Week 5 - Managing Earth Observation Data

How do we make sense of the large amount of data produced by Earth observation? Can crowdsourcing and citizen science play a role in developing climate change models?

The lead presenters on this course are: Professor Martin Wooster, King’s College London; Dr Mathias Disney, University College London; Dr Emily Shuckburgh, British Antarctic Survey; Professor Andy Shepherd, University of Leeds. Further expert insight is provided by Professor Alan O’Neill, University of Reading.

Other contributors for the course include: Professor Konrad Steffen, WSL; Professor Anny Cazenave, LEGOS & ISSI; Dr Pierre-Philippe Mathieu, ESA; Dr Stephen Briggs, ESA; Dr Angela Benedetti, ECMWF; Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, ZSL; Professor Chris Merchant, University of Reading; Dr Melanie Ades, University of Reading; Dr Helen Snaith, BODC (NOC); Dr Stephanie Henson, NOC; Dr Simon Boxall, University of Southampton; Dr Paolo Cipollini, NOC; Professor Chris Lintott, University of Oxford; Dr Kirsten Barrett, University of Leicester.

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What topics will you cover?

The course consisted of five themed weeks:

Week 1 - Observing Climate Change from Space

  • What is Earth observation?
  • How we observe the Earth with satellites.
  • The role of Earth observation in climate policy and planning

Weeks 2 & 3 - Earth Observation Techniques and Technology

  • How different types of mission, instrumentation and data are used to study changes to our atmosphere, land, oceans and ice.

Week 4 - Earth Observation in Action

  • How Earth observation helps us to: set policy; plan for climate risk, resilience and adaptation; and manage resources and biodiversity.

Week 5 - Managing Earth Observation Data

  • How we make sense of the large amounts of data produced by Earth observation.
  • The role of crowdsourcing and citizen science in developing climate change models.
  • Future trends in Earth observation technology.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Interpret and use satellite Earth observation data used in monitoring climatic and environmental change
  • Assess how Earth observation data can be used in climate policy and decision making
  • Describe how satellite data is used to observe and measure the Earth
  • Describe how satellite Earth observation data is used in climate models

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for people who want to learn more about Earth observation, climate change and monitoring climate from space. The course can also help decision makers, policy makers, educators and communicators, to gain a better insight into how satellite data can help them assess the state of our climate and its changes, in order to support climate science, and adaptation and mitigation decisions.

Who will you learn with?

Martin Wooster is Professor of Earth Observation Science in the Dept. of Geography, King's College London (UK), and a Divisional Director of the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO).

Professor of Meteorology at the University of Reading and the former Director of the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation.

Director of the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling and Principal Scientific Advisor to the European Space Agency's CryoSat satellite mission

Climate scientist and Head of the Open Oceans research group at the British Antarctic Survey. I am also an associate of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research.

I'm a scientist, interested in vegetation, carbon and climate. I use satellite observations, 3D models and measurements to try and understand these processes.

Who developed the course?

European Space Agency

ESA is a world leader in Earth observation from space, using satellites and novel techniques to ‘take the pulse of our planet’.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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