National Physical Laboratory

Climate Data

We know the climate is changing but the impacts and timescales of the change are uncertain. This makes it difficult to secure international agreements on climate change, to ensure public buy-in to mitigation policies and to target adaptation policies with confidence.
Climate data projects

The Centre for Carbon Measurement reduces the uncertainty in the data used to generate and validate climate projections. This will enable policies for climate change mitigation and adaptation to be placed on an ever firmer footing.

Case studies

Validated climate observing system

Satellite observations are essential for climate monitoring. We are leading international efforts to develop improved standards and techniques for pre- and post-launch calibration and validation to ensure that satellite data is consistent and reliable. This has included measurements on deserts, oceans, snow fields, mountains and from the air via aircraft and balloons. We now lead a European Commission funded project to establish a “European Metrology Centre for Earth Observation and Climate”.

Climate TRUTHS

We have has proposed a satellite mission called TRUTHs (Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies) which will provide measurements of energy reflected and absorbed by the Earth up to ten times more accurately than is currently available. These measurements are vital for improving confidence in climate models and, if funding can be obtained, a satellite could be operational within three years.


Trusting climate data

The Trusted Data for Carbon, Science and Finance (TruDAT) project will assess the quality and uncertainty of climate data measured from space. As a case study, it will use the quantification of carbon stored in forests. Accuracy in forest carbon measurements is necessary to ensure fair carbon trading and the success of schemes such as the UN’s REDD+ initiative, which aims to create a financial value for forest carbon and reduce deforestation.

TruDAT   -   Success in space

Supporting the World Meteorological Organisation [WMO]

We continue to participate in work led by the World Meteorological Organisation to look at the role of Metrology in Environmental Monitoring. Topics covered range from global monitoring of gases to satellite monitoring of land and ocean temperature. To date consensus has been reached about the future challenge for the verification of greenhouse gas emissions arising from the variability in complexity and scope of mitigation efforts nationally, regionally and locally. Mitigation steps have focused on the best use of established infrastructure and funding to meet the requirement for standards in this area. 

World Meteorological Organisation

Measuring methane

We have helped the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs validate the models used for reporting UK methane levels to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Our environmental measurement team was commissioned to measure methane emissions at nine landfill sites and collect samples for isotope analysis. The study will provide the baseline against which future emissions reductions can be quantified.

Measuring Methane on Farms

Confidence in emissions monitoring

NPL was the first laboratory to test continuous emission monitors and helped the Environment Agency set up MCERTS – a certification scheme for pollution monitoring equipment. The scheme promotes public confidence in monitoring data and helps industry choose the correct monitoring systems to meet regulation. The Centre for Carbon Measurement will continue this work by providing environmental monitoring and guidance for both industry and government.

MCERTS  Certifiably clean

We are working with government departments, international agencies and organisations that rely upon climate data in the areas of atmospheric composition, satellite observation, carbon sinks and testing instrumentation emissions and air quality.

Get involved with the work of the Centre for Carbon Measurement.

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