National Physical Laboratory


European Metrology for Earth Observation and Climate

Project Dates: 2014 - 2017

Our vision is to establish a European Centre of Excellence of Metrology to support Earth Observation (EO) and Climate as a 'one-stop shop': enabling European calibration scientists and engineers to deliver cost-effective, fit-for-purpose SI traceable solutions to meet the needs of industry, funding organisations and the user community:

The components of a European Metrology Centre for Earth Observation

The components of a European Metrology Centre for Earth Observation

Remote monitoring of the Earth system is crucial to enable better stewardship of the environment and, most importantly, to provide the necessary information to aid policy makers in the development of appropriate mitigation strategies to respond to climate change. This must be tackled through global observations that can only be made from space.

Although such observations have and are being made, the harsh and challenging environment of space limits the uncertainty currently attainable. In the specific case of climate, this is often a factor of 10 larger than required by the community. This drive for reduced uncertainty, together with the need to synergistically combine data from a variety of sources (space and in situ), has placed 'traceability' and its reliable quantification at the top of the agenda of space agencies and the wider GEO (Group on Earth Observation) community.

In the case of satellites, improvements in uncertainty and traceability are needed throughout all stages of data production: pre-flight and post-launch calibration and validation, and all the intermediate processing steps. The technical scope required spans the full electro-magnetic spectrum and entails the evolution of laboratory-based metrology into field (and space) situations, whilst maintaining, and in some cases improving, the uncertainty available from nominally primary standards and facilities.

This main project site is dedicated to providing the EO and climate community - instrument builders; data collectors, users and builders - with access to guidance on best metrology practices, standards and tools for assigning an uncertainty to EO and climate data and derived information. It is the public face of an ongoing series of projects funded by the European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET), under the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP), which is delivered by a consortium of European National Metrology Institutes and other expert groups. A full listing of project partners can be found here

This is a three-year project with five main work areas:

WP1 - aims to establish a network of satellite calibration test sites, combine and analyse data and uncertainties from multiple satellite instruments and prototype TRUTHS.

WP2 - aims to improve the measurement of sensitive climate indicators.

WP3 - aims to establish best practice for end-to-end SI traceable uncertainty for key biophysical parameters.

WP4 - aims to measure ECVs, provide traceability for total solar irradiance and thermally-emitted radiation from the Earth's surface.

WP5 - aims to establish a prototype framework for a European virtual centre of excellence.

More information is available here

Funding source: EMRP

Contacts: Nigel Fox, Emma Woolliams and Joanne Nightingale


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