The Climate Monitoring Architecture

An Architecture for Climate Monitoring from Space

In response to the challenge of monitoring climate variability and change from space, CEOS, CGMS and WMO have developed a global Architecture for Climate monitoring from Space that has been specifically constructed to fulfil the needs of the Global Climate Observing System serving UNFCCC.

The 4 pillars of the architecture

  • Sensing - The sensing of the earth environment from space.
  • Climate Records - The creation of climate data records.
  • Applications - The application of climate data records.
  • Decision-Making - Definition and implementation of mitigation and adaptation policies

The FOUR Pillars of The Climate Architecture

The architecture consists of a logical architecture, reflecting the required functions and a physical architecture expected to identify the elements contributing to the implementation of these functions.

The logical architecture takes the form of four pillars, with an end to end information flow starting with the sensing of the Earth environment (by EO satellites).

The resultant observations are then assembled, processed and converted to climate records. These records are then used by the relevant applications to generate reports that are, in turn, used by decision-making entities, including policy-makers, to decide on a course of action.

For details regarding the architecture see the Strategy Towards an Architecture for Climate Monitoring from Space (M. Dowell, P. Lecomte, R. Husband, J. Schulz, T. Mohr, Y. Tahara, R. Eckman, E. Lindstrom, C. Wooldridge, S. Hilding, J.Bates, B. Ryan, J. Lafeuille, and S. Bojinski, 2013).

1 Sensing

The sensing of the earth environment from space.

Sophisticated instruments flying in space gather valuable geophysical information about the Earth. In contrast to instruments on the ground, the instruments above have the advantage of gathering data on a global scale. Climate change is a global phenomenon, requiring global data. For over 30 years, a broad variety of satellites have gathered, and continue to gather, valuable raw data about the Earth. However, the Earth’s climate changes slowly relative to the lifetime of any individual satellite.

2 Climate Records

Therefore, to build a “Climate Data Record”, scientists need to stitch together many different sources of raw data spanning many years, satellites old and new, commonly from numerous space agencies. This involves digging into archived data, incorporating new satellite data as it reaches the ground and planning well for the next generation of satellite missions.

Archived Data

Past weather and climate observations have left an enormous legacy of archived data that forms the basis of our current knowledge on climate variability and change. Additionally, although optimised to support realtime weather monitoring and forecasting, operational meteorological programmes of the past have also provided a foundation for long-term climate records of key climate parameters.

Current Data

Approximately 100 satellites are currently operating with an EO mission. Increased frequency of satellite measurements, improved satellite and sensor technology and easier access and interpretation of EO data are all contributing to the increased role of satellite data in our knowledge of the climate system. As data from currently flying satellites arrive on the ground, they become available to scientists for stitching together, blending and processing with data from other sources. The new data are then archived for posterity, for use by the next generation of climate projects, programmes, scientists and engineers.

Planning for the Future

Some 140 civil EO satellite missions are planned for launch over the next 15 years. These missions will carry over 400 different instruments to measure components of the climate system, including the atmosphere, ocean and land surface. The lifetimes of these satellite missions span many years, beginning before their launch. The first step in the life of a satellite mission is consulting with climate science organisations, and many other stakeholders, on their climate science needs. These needs typically arise from shortfalls in the stitching together, and other processing, for production of Climate Data Records for the international community.

3 Applications

The application of climate data records.

Climate Data Records are applicable to hugely diverse and numerous socio-economic areas. Following consultation with stakeholders, sponsors and affiliate scientists over several years, the WCRP published a categorissation of major areas of scientific research, analysis and observation, termed Grand Challenges. The Climate Extremes Challenge, for example, requires decadal data to support adaptation planning, focusing on heavy precipitation, heat wave, drought and storm.

For climate services in societal sectors such as food security, water, energy, and health, the major direct or indirect value of satellite-based climate data records has been demonstrated through case studies developed by the CEOS/CGMS Working Group on Climate.

Each application of climate data will have its own particular requirements to fulfil the needs of that specific application. Tailoring of climate data products is commonly necessary, in order to hone in to the requirements of the application in question. This poses significant engineering demands. International coordination is underway in Europe in the form of the Copernicus Climate Change Service and globally via the WMO’s Global Framework for Climate Services.

4 Decision-Making

Decision making based on application of climate data.

Climate Data Records are applicable to hugely diverse and numerous socio-economic areas. Following consultation with stakeholders, sponsors and affiliate scientists over several years, the WCRP published a categorisation of major areas of scientific research, analysis and observation, termed Grand Challenges. The Climate Extremes Challenge, for example, requires decadal data to support adaptation planning, focusing on heavy precipitation, heat wave, drought and storm.

For climate services in societal sectors such as food security, water, energy, and health, the major direct or indirect value of satellite-based climate data records has been demonstrated through case studies developed by the CEOS/CGMS Working Group on Climate.