The UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) has launched its Earth Observation Climate Information Service (EOCIS), enabling the UK to create, maintain and expand regional and global climate data from space through its own service.
Funded by the UK government through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), EOCIS is a new national project that aims to transform Earth observation (EO) measurements into data that will enable action to be taken on heatwaves, urban flooding and the health of coastal waters. EOCIS will create climate information to increase knowledge about issues ranging from polar ice change to landscape carbon, to drought impacts on food security.
George Freeman, minister of state at the new UK Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, said, “Earth Observation is vital for how we see and understand our own planet, from biodiversity through to climate change with more than half of key climate data coming from space. The UK is at the forefront of this technology and know-how. The UK EOCIS will bring together world-leading scientific expertise from across the country to bring our view of Earth into even deeper focus.”
Building on the UK-wide Space 4 Climate group, the EOCIS consortium involves some of the UK’s most prestigious research institutions for climate and earth systems. NCEO, is the UK’s leading center for monitoring the climate and environment using satellites. For EOCIS, NCEO scientists based at eight institutions across the UK will be leading research activities together with colleagues from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, the University of Southampton and Bangor University.
Professor Chris Merchant, scientific lead of EOCIS and an NCEO climate data expert at the University of Reading, said, “The EOCIS will enable many talented scientists all across the UK to work together, creating information needed to respond to the climate crisis. The new climate data from EOCIS will be used to better understand growing climate risks and how to respond to them. We’ll see new and better climate data from space, for the UK and the world. And we’ll see innovation around getting that information readily into the hands of people who need to use it.”
The first of its kind in the UK, the program will deliver up-to-date research leading to critical data for understanding the climate in the UK, regionally and globally. Key data sets produced will include the surface temperature of the UK including cities, the health of lakes and coastal waters, and the productivity and resilience of vegetation. Other research will capture methane change across northern Europe and Asia.
The UK government recently announced funding for NERC of more than £19m (US$23m) for key EO and climate services, data facilities and skills. The EOCIS is one of two NCEO-led national projects which will support UK scientists to produce new and more accurate climate data from space with unique facilities for data access and processing.