Creating Quality-Assured EO-based Climate Services in the Atlantic Region

Telespazio UK’s Geoff Busswell outlines some key input climate data sets to consider in developing climate service offerings to communities in the Atlantic region, with data quality being vital to allow users to select the right data and services for their application.

It’s widely acknowledged that climate change provides business and society with one of the major challenges of our time. However, climate data and services can facilitate strategic decisions and provide valuable approaches to the associated risk management, as well as assessment and evaluation of climate action towards a climate-resilient, low-carbon and sustainable society and economy.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and European Commission (EC) have made significant investments in satellite earth observation (EO) data products. Collectively, these now make a critically important contribution to our ability to measure the effects of climate change and its knock-on impact to the public and private sectors. Furthermore, such data sets offer global coverage and are freely available through two major European EO-based climate data programme where Telespazio UK has key involvement:

  1. Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Open Data Portal (ODP), funded as part of the Global Monitoring of Essential Climate Variables (GMECV) element of ESA’s Earth Watch programme.
  2. Climate Data Store (CDS), developed as part of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of, and funded by, the EC.

The CCI offers multiple data download protocols (FTP, HTTP, OPeNDAP, WMS, WCSA), a search facility through which users can search for and download CCI data, a dashboard providing users with a high level view of all the individual CCI Essential Climate Variables (ECV) datasets contained within the ODP, and a Data Visualisation Tool offering quick visual access to the data. It also has access to a wide range of climate variables, with data from 14 ECVs across land, atmosphere and ocean domains, and nine more ECVs in development.

The first release of the CDS was in June 2018, with an initial set of ECV data sets and the ERA5 reanalysis data available, with further data sets continually being added. It offers centralised access to climate data distributed over multiple data suppliers, along with a toolbox that can perform processing, computation, transformation and visualisation of the catalogued data.

Although separate, the CCI and C3S have complementary objectives, with the CCI providing the cutting-edge science, and the CDS providing an operational service for ECV data that can be used in value-added climate services to create societal and business benefit.

Finally, a key factor for data and service providers is consideration and transparency of data quality and the importance of supplying suitable meta-data – often within the data itself – to allow information to be categorised according to quantitative uncertainty, availability, traceability and calibration. This enables users to make informed choices about data usage, including as part of a decision-making process in a climate service. With quality assurance in place, users gain the necessary transparency to select the most appropriate data for their application.