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Measurement for our planet

How our metrology expertise provides confidence in climate data

Climate measurement including earth observation

NPL’s metrology expertise provides confidence in climate data, to support the measurement of essential climate variables via satellites and ground-based observations.


Why does accurate climate measurement matter?

To deliver effective climate policy, it is essential to make sure that information and data collected via observations of the real climate is as accurate as possible.

The past, present and future state of our climate is monitored and observed through satellite and in-situ instrument networks. The information these devices observe is then processed into data which is used to define essential climate variables (ECVs).

The global climate science community use ECVs to form climate models designed to analyse past climates and help predict how future climates may look. These models can help inform policy in governments, industry, NGOs and wider society, and allow us to better understand the impact of economic, industrial and societal actions.   

As policies are created, these lead to changes in emissions (both reductions and increases) and changes in land use, such as through afforestation or deforestation and wetland destruction or preservation. These changes can further be observed to input back into integrated assessment models and utilised to assess policy impact, as well as assess any additional benefits that have occurred such as improved air quality.

How does NPL drive more accurate climate measurement?

We support government and industry through providing accurate, dependable and proven metrology expertise for greater confidence in climate data. As the UK’s National Metrology Institute, we deliver and support the measurement of essential climate variables via satellites and ground-based observations.

Specifically, our work can offer pre-flight calibration and validation alongside general calibration support, and provide quality assurance frameworks including quality control for data sets. Much of our work in climate and emissions is carried out in partnership with academic, commercial and public sector bodies both nationally and internationally. 

NPL’s world-renowned experts represent the UK, (and in some cases the international metrology community as a whole), in key international climate and emissions-related committees. The UK Space Agency (UKSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) look to NPL to provide thought leadership on quality assurance and calibration-validation strategies.

Related content

Adaptation and Resilience

The Delivering Climate Adaptation and Resilience: The Role of Measurement event saw attendees from across the adaptation and resilience landscape come together to discuss priority measurement needs and challenges in support of climate action.

Climate observation from land and space

Measurement of climate variables to inform decision making.

How do scientists measure the temperature of the Earth

Many aspects of the earth’s temperature can be measured, each with their own relevance and techniques. 


TRUTHS is a satellite mission to establish a space-based climate and calibration observing system, facilitating improved confidence in climate change forecasts.

Earth observation, climate and optical

We help to improve the quality of data collected through earth observation systems and satellites.


MicroCarb is a joint mission between UKSA and CNES which will measure sources and sinks of carbon, the principal greenhouse gas driving global warming.

Measurement for our planet: Leaders’ briefing

If you’re a minister, policy maker or industry leader and would like to find out how measurement can support you in ensuring the accuracy of the information used for decision making in support of climate action, then we can help.

Measurement for our planet


Identifying and quantifying greenhouse gas emissions at local and national scales

Greenhouse gas emissions measurement


Supporting the transition to decarbonised energy sources

Energy vector and infrastructure


Understanding emissions from agriculture and observation of land systems

Agriculture, forestry and other land use


Measurement to test, validate and enable zero emission transport solutions

Decarbonisation of transport


Enabling low carbon manufacturing through materials testing and process development

Advanced manufacturing and materials for net zero