GEO has been working to strengthen the role of Earth observations to support countries’ monitoring of climate change targets. GEO participated as an official exhibitor and side event organizer at the 23rd UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP23) in November 2017. The GEO Secretariat has been actively pursuing the status of observer organization with the UNFCCC since August 2018.
Together with the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan (RESTEC), GEO organized an official side event that explored the role of Earth observations to support National Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories and the ongoing refinement of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines. The European Commission, and Germany as the host country, supported this side event for COP 23.
During the 47th session of the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), this issue was formally brought forward and included in the outcome document, which noted the “increasing capability to systematically monitor greenhouse gas concentrations and emissions, through in situ as well as satellite observations, and its relevance in support of the Paris Agreement.”
UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)
Following the 47th session of SBSTA in 2017 in Bonn, Germany, space agencies provided a white paper describing a constellation architecture for monitoring atmospheric CO2 and CH4 concentrations and their natural and anthropogenic fluxes from space to support climate policy for the 49th session of SBSTA, 3-14 December 2018.
Taking the opportunities, such as Expert Reviews and statements during the SBSTA session, the global EO community have advocated the support of the Earth observations including satellite observations to improve the national greenhouse gas Inventories.
Read the full statement reporting on progress by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS) on Coordinated Response to UNFCCC Needs for Global Observations available here.
UNFCCC 50th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA-50) Research Dialogue
In the ongoing effort to engage with the UNFCCC, the Secretariat presented a poster titled “GEO Knowledge Hub for Transformative Solutions through Open Science” during the Research Dialogue portion of SBSTA-50.
The Secretariat also delivered the following intervention at the Science Open Dialogue with the SBSTA chair:
“Along the lines mentioned by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) of collaboration in a “landscape” of groups working to deliver information that decision-makers need, GEO, the Group on Earth Observations, is committed to helping its 108 Member states report under conventions and policy agreements to which they are signatories. To this end, GEO is working to open access to Earth observations, share knowledge in an open science context, and co-produce applications and tools in support of sustainable development and mitigation / adaptation measures under the Paris Agreement.”
In the ongoing effort to gain observer status with the UNFCCC, the Secretariat presented a poster titled “GEO Knowledge Hub for Transformative Solutions through Open Science” during the Research Dialogue portion of SBSTA-50.
The Secretariat also delivered the following intervention at the Science Open Dialogue with the SBSTA chair: “Along the lines mentioned by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) of collaboration in a “landscape” of groups working to deliver information that decision-makers need, GEO, the Group on Earth Observations, is committed to helping its 105 Member states report under conventions and policy agreements to which they are signatories. To this end, GEO is working to open access to Earth observations, share knowledge in an open science context, and co-produce applications and tools in support of sustainable development and mitigation / adaptation measures under the Paris Agreement.”
In June 2018, GEO’s first Climate Workshop marked a significant milestone in GEO’s efforts to engage key organizations with explicit mandates in the climate policy process and specifically on the Paris Agreement. The workshop was attended by over 100 participants, including representatives active in the GEO Work Programme, including GEO Members and Participating Organisations.
Key speakers from UNFCCC, IPCC, GCOS, WMO, CEOS, CGMS and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), as well as contributors from GEO Flagships and Initiatives shared their current needs and discussed opportunities for GEO to support the international climate agenda.
Concrete action areas identified for GEO included:
• Helping to improve climate data access;
• Supporting actions on mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage;
• Integrating climate with monitoring mechanisms for SDGs, Sendai Framework and other international conventions;
• Engaging with national stakeholders e.g. in National Adaptation Planning;
• Supporting IPCC processes (2019 Refinement of 2006 IPCC Guidelines on National GHG Inventories; Sixth Assessment Cycle);
• Responding to actions in the GCOS Implementation Plan; and
• Enhancing the use of climate data records for a variety of application areas, including drought monitoring, renewable energy assessments and health early warning systems.
GEO's Climate Workshop advances collaborative effots for climate change
Forest monitoring from space: Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI)
The year 2017 marked a major milestone in forest monitoring from space. Complete forest cover data is crucial for countries to be able to report on GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in support of the Paris Agreement. Deforestation and forest degradation is the second leading source of carbon emissions globally, and must be reduced significantly in order to meet global climate targets.
Comprehensive, accessible forest data is now available for all countries as a result of the open data policies and collaboration of a variety of national space agencies and coordinating bodies, thereby ensuring full satellite coverage of the world’s forests. The space agencies operating the world’s largest civil Earth observing satellite programmes declared a major milestone where all countries now have the necessary data for annual forest monitoring for the first time ever.
In addition, CEOS had been coordinating space agency support to the data needs of the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) since 2011. This involved ensuring coordinated and complementary systematic acquisition strategies for a suite of relevant Earth observation satellites to provide all countries with the data necessary for annual monitoring of their forests.
The core data streams underpinning this coordinated multi-annual global coverage of forests are the optical sensors on the Landsat series (USGS), and from the European Union Copernicus programme the Sentinel-1 radar series (EU/ESA) and the optical Sentinel-2 series (EU/ESA). Further data contributions are provided by the space agencies of Japan (JAXA), Brazil (INPE), China (CRESDA), France (CNES), Italy (ASI), Canada (CSA), and Germany (DLR). Further useful datasets are anticipated next year from the space agencies of the UK (NovaSAR mission) and Argentina (SAOCOM mission).
Global coverage of forests through this collaboration will continue until at least 2030, allowing countries to confidently apply satellite data in their national forest monitoring and reporting systems.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service
The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) supports society by providing authoritative information about the past, present and future climate in Europe and the rest of the World. C3S combines observations of the climate system (from in-situ and satellite observing systems) with the latest science to develop authoritative, quality-assured information about the past, current and future states of the climate in Europe and worldwide.
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operates the C3S on behalf of the European Union and will bring together expertise from across Europe to deliver the service. C3S provides key indicators on climate change drivers such as carbon dioxide and impacts, for example, reducing glaciers. The aim of these indicators will be to support European adaptation and mitigation policies in a number of sectors.
The service builds upon and contributes to the European Union and the WMO Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) and its Climate Monitoring Architecture.
Last year C3S released European State of the Climate 2018, compiled by the C3S, implemented by the ECMWF on behalf of the European Union.
Copernicus Climate Change Service & Bulletins
Copernicus' Climate Change Bulletins
Through the production of monthly maps, the current condition of the climate and key climate change indicators are freely available to the public and policy makers. They also provide analysis of the maps and guidance on how they are produced.
The Monthly climate updates can be found here.
The latest data show that this year continues to bring record-breaking temperatures. Every month in 2019 has ranked among the four warmest for the month in question, and the globally-averaged air temperature for June was the highest ever recorded. It is now confirmed that July was also an exceptional month. The global average temperature for July 2019 was on a par with, and possibly marginally higher than, that of July 2016, previously the warmest July and warmest month of all on record, and which followed an El Niño event.
The Climate Data Store from Copernicus Climate Change Service
The Climate Data Store infrastructure aims to provide a "one stop shop" for users to discover and process the data and products that are provided through the distributed data repositories.
The CDS also provides also a comprehensive set of software (the CDS Toolbox) which enables users to develop custom-made applications. The applications will make use of the content of the CDS to analyse, monitor and predict the evolution of both climate drivers and impacts. To this end, the CDS includes a set of climate indicators tailored to sectoral applications, such as energy, water management, tourism, etc. – the Sectoral Information System (SIS) component of C3S. The aim of the service is to accommodate the needs of a highly diverse set of users, including policy-makers, businesses and scientists.
Emergency Management in the Age of Climate Change
In a world with a changing climate, disaster patterns are shifting and intensifying. We are experiencing stronger hurricanes, forest fires in uncommon areas over longer time-frames, prolonged droughts and widespread flooding. Earth observation applications for emergency management are becoming increasingly important.
For example, a large number of a forest fires in winter months are being closely monitored. By early March 2019, the European Forest Fire Information System reported that the number of fires in Europe reached a level usually recorded in August.
European Union. Contains Sentinel data 2018, processed by the Copernicus Support Office
While disasters strike indiscriminately, disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery call for coordinated approaches to emergency management. The European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism enables an internationally coordinated response. Under this mechanism, French firefighting aircraft can extinguish forest fires in Spain, while experts in Italy prepare satellite-based flood maps for Sweden.
Despite this international collaboration, not every country has equal capacity to deal with an increasing number of disasters, nor do they all have their own space programme to support disaster risk management efforts. Earth observation satellites orbit the Earth without border restrictions, and the data they provide can help bridge the emergency management capability gap between high- and low-income countries.
The Copernicus Emergency Service (Copernicus EMS) supports disaster risk reduction and emergency management at various stages. The data collected, combined with tools and services that turn data into information for decision makers, can contribute to better results at all stages of the disaster risk reduction cycle.
2018 October earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia: grading map of Palu city show that almost over 37,000 people, 10,000 buildings and other infrastructure were affected (Copernicus EMS © 2018 EU, [EMSR317] Palu: Grading Map