A wide variety of environmental measurements can now be made from space by satellites. Watch Dr Debbie Clifford explain more.
Watch Dr Debbie Clifford explain how open data from satellites, which monitor the Earth, can help us to understand the effect we’re having on our climate.
A wide variety of environmental measurements can now be made from space. Many observational records stretch back decades, allowing us not only to assess current conditions, but also to detect and monitor changes in the environment over time. This long-term view of environmental variability is what we call ‘climate’, and a climate data record is one that is of sufficient quality that recent and past values can be compared.
Earth Observation scientists around the world are developing climate data records to get the historical consistency needed for their climate science. These climate data are, because of their high quality, potentially valuable to a much wider pool of users than just the scientists interested in monitoring climate change. For instance, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Climate Change Initiative, is developing global records of climate variables such as clouds, ice sheets, land cover and soil moisture, and releasing them as open data.
In the video, Debbie highlighted the European Space Agency’s open data portal for the Climate Change Initiative, which serves all the key datasets from the programme, and has almost 100TB of data products available. A large proportion of this is the Ocean Colour data set – these data help us understand the important biological role of the oceans in the Earth’s climate, quantifying the amount of chlorophyll and monitoring the uptake of CO2
. These free and open datasets are particularly relevant to those interested in: atmospheric aerosols, cloud, fire, greenhouse gases, glaciers, ice sheets, land cover, ocean colour, the ozone, sea ice, sea level, sea surface temperature, and soil moisture.
You can explore these datasets on the Climate Change Initiative open data portal
on the ESA website. The portal can be accessed by clicking on “Data” in the left hand menu.
What do you think is the biggest challenge with using climate data from space? Share your thoughts in the discussion area below.