National Physical Laboratory

€2 million investment in NPL climate science

The National Physical Laboratory's work on Earth Observation and Climate Change has been highlighted by David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, during an event today at the Royal Society in London, entitled 'Space: The new view on climate change'.

€2 million investment in NPL climate science
Image courtesy of NASA

The meeting at the Royal Society aimed to illustrate new insights that observations from space are bringing to our understanding of the changing planet. It also highlighted the UK's strong science base and entrepreneurial manufacturing and service sectors.

NPL is leading the Metrology for Earth Observation and Climate project and has recently been awarded further funding of €2 million for a follow-on project to improve end to end calibration of Essential Climate Variables and Climate Data Records. The outcomes of the project will lead to earlier identification of potential issues and more reliable quantification of environmental challenges, including pollution, land cover change and coastal erosion.

This new project, currently in final negotiations, is led by NPL in partnership with 15 partners across nine countries and in total is worth €5 million. It is part of European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), which is jointly funded by the participating countries within EURAMET and the European Union, and follows-on from a previous first phase of the project. The work, together with a series of related projects at NPL, will support the development of robust uncertainty estimates on the key observational data, and its subsequent analysis to provide the information needed by policy makers to make evidence based judgements on appropriate mitigation and adaptation startegies for climate change. One of the key objectives is to support the European Space Agency (ESA) and other international space agencies in achieving robust and traceable calibration of key Earth Observation satellites.

Sensing the Earth from space is a very good way of obtaining the massive amounts of global data needed to underpin climate change research. Essential Climate Variables such as incoming radiation from the Sun or sea surface temperature are monitored to detect small fluctuations. In most cases detection of changes of a few tenths of a per cent per decade are required, relying on measurements with uncertainty levels currently only attainable at the world's National Measurement Institutes such as NPL.

NPL's proposed satellite mission: TRUTHs (Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies) forms a vital part of the project and is also one of the long term objectives of the Centre for Carbon Measurement at NPL. Recent funding from the UK Space Agency is going towards developing a more detailed design of the technology and identifying future partners. It is hoped the satellite could be in orbit in less than five years.

Find out more about the Metrology for Earth Observation and Climate project

Find out more about NPL's work in the Space sector

For further details, please contact Nigel Fox

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Last Updated: 1 Jul 2015
Created: 13 Jun 2014

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