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Future of climate observation

World-leading experts meet to discuss future of climate observation from space

The Global Earth Observation meeting, hosted by the UK Space Agency (UKSA) and held at the UK’s National Metrology Institute, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) will bring together 100 climate and space instrument scientists and engineers next week to design an Earth Observation (EO) system fit for our changing climate.

Mitigating the impact of climate change, and future investment in the area, relies on trusted and reliable data gathered from space. This will enable policy makers to make earlier decisions on the investment needed – to help combat and adapt to changes in the Earth’s environment. High-accuracy unambiguous data leads to increased confidence in predictions from climate models – reducing time needed to reliably detect trends in key indicators. 

At the centre of this lies robust methods for gathering climate data from space, traceable to the International System of Units for measurement (SI). Such a system will be crucial for policy-makers to make evidence-based decisions, as quickly as possible – in line with the Paris Accord 2015.

The meeting, to run 9-11th September, will bring together key stakeholders from high accuracy benchmark missions proposed by space agencies from around the globe (including UKSA, ESA, NASA, and CMA) as well as global experts from industry and academia. The meeting is organised under the auspices of the international Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and Global Space-based Inter-Calibration System (GSICS) of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), who recognise the urgency to establish space-based climate observation. As well as the need to facilitate robust interoperability and usability of multiple sensor datasets not only for climate, but a wide range of EO applications.   

The meeting will lead to a collaborative white paper and other guidance documents. Once ready, these will scope the drivers and means to implement an international SI traceable space-based climate observing system of the future. 

One of the missions to be discussed is a UK proposal to the European Space Agency (ESA) Earth Watch mission known as TRUTHS – Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies. This has been adopted into the ESA Earth Watch mission for subscription as part of ESA ‘Space19+’ in November.

The mission TRUTHS, initially conceived at NPL, will initiate a space-based climate and calibration observatory capable of measuring solar radiation up to 10 times more accurately than is currently possible. It will also generate data directly traceable to the SI units.

TRUTHS will be led by Professor Nigel Fox, who said: “The community recognises the critical need for robust Earth Observation data in order to inform our reaction to climate change. This can also have important consequences for agriculture and pollution monitoring around the globe. Hosting this meeting in the UK underpins the national vision and ambition to be home to trusted climate services to support policy makers and risk sensitive sectors such as finance and energy.”


Further information on the meeting and the proceedings can be found at:

or by contacting NPL at:

Dr Cyrus Larijani

Tel: +44 (0) 208 943 6227

Mobile: +44 (0)7807 913 214

06 Sep 2019