National Physical Laboratory

Projects Projects

The Earth Observation, Climate and Optical scientists research a wide range of areas relating to the application of metrology to Earth Observation, from the calibration of optical instruments to the uncertainty analysis of biophysical products.

We are and have been involved in a wide range of projects relating to Earth Observation (EO), from the design and build of instruments to the uncertainty analysis for EO derived products. The following pages set out some of the projects we are and have been involved in.

Current Projects

  • The aim of the ACTION project is to set up a reference calibration site on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Gobabeb Namibia.
  • EQCO will provide a quality assurance framework for the data store provided by the Copernicus Climate Change Service and operated by ECMWF. The framework will offer transparency of climate data to enable effective use of data.
  • Climate data from space-based observations need to provide trustworthy information about variability and change over decades, so they can be used for rigorous science, decision-making and climate services.
  • FRM4SOC will work towards ensuring that the ESA Sentinel satellite measurements of ocean colour (MSI on Sentinel 2 and OLCI on Sentinel 3) are of the highest quality possible, and the setting up of protocols for an ongoing reference measurement system for satellite ocean colour.
  • FRM4STS is an ESA-funded project, to establish and maintain SI traceability of global Fiducial Reference Measurements (FRM) for satellite derived surface temperature product validation.
  • Gap Analysis for Integrated Atmospheric ECV CLImate Monitoring
  • Metrology for Earth Observation and Climate 2 (MetEOC-2) is a three-year project focusing on improving metrology in Earth Observation (EO).
  • QA4ECV will generate multi-decadal climate data records for three atmospheric ECV precursors and three land ECVs with full uncertainty metrics for each and every satellite measurement.
  • The Radiometric Calibration Network (RadCalNet) working group is a sub-group of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellite (CEOS) Working Group on Calibration and Validation (WGCV).
  • Radiometric calibration is one of the key elements contributing to the quality of measurements acquired by optical EO sensors.

Past Projects

  • Scientists of NPL's Optical radiation measurement team, led by Dr Nigel Fox, have ensured that Expedia's blue sky explorer, Anya, was able to observe the world's best blue sky and unequivocally assign a set of internationally accepted colorimetric coordinates so that it can be fully defined.
  • During the calibration of CHRIS (Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer), built by Sira Electro-optics Ltd (now part of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd)- currently in flight on the ESA Proba platform, several primary facilities were used.
  • We have designed, built and calibrated a transfer radiometer which is to be used in the calibration of the EarthCARE Broad Band Radiometers (BBRs).
  • FOREST aims to respond to the growing demand of forest carbon stakeholders for trusted, fully integrated and cost effective Measuring Reporting Verification (MRV) service components, enabling forest carbon projects and initiatives to achieve carbon goals, i.e. emission reduction and/or stock enhancement.
  • NPL provided the expertise and support equipment to determine the spectral response of the GERB (Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget) instrument, currently flying on Meteosat Second Generation, at Imperial College London.
  • NPL is leading a consortium of European technical experts t review existing quality assurance/control practices and then to consider and propose strategies for improvement for the future as part of an ESA Strategy.
  • In 2002 NPL undertook a web-based survey to solicit views of the EO community on the benefits, need and willingness to participate in a system of formal QA for EO based activities.
  • QA4EO was an initiative set up to harmonise best practices across the EO community as well as promote the use of such practices.
  • NPL, in collaboration with Brockmann Consult, has delivered the first version of the Radiometric Uncertainty Tool (RUT) for the Sentinel-2 mission. This innovative tool provides uncertainty images associated to the Top-of-Atmosphere reflectance images delivered by the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • The TruDAT (Trustable Data for Carbon, Science and Finance) project aims to address and understand the propagation of uncertainties in, and define suitable quality metrics for, satellite data used for forest carbon estimation.
  • In 2010, a field campaign was undertaken at Tuz Golu in Turkey to understand the biases introduced through the use of different teams.


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