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Satellite data provides valuable support for the IPCC Climate Report

Credit: CCI

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest assessment report, which provides accumulated evidence of a climate crisis. This report identifies Earth observation satellites as an important tool for monitoring the causes and impacts of climate change and directly acknowledges the contribution of ESA’s climate change initiative, a research program that utilizes observations from multiple satellite missions. I am.


This is the most powerful and most important IPCC report to date, climate Observations, analytical methods and modeling are important inputs to climate negotiations and decision making.

The report, quoted from 14 000 scientific publications, concludes that “it is clear that human influences have warmed the atmosphere, sea and land,” and that changes in the state of many parts of the climate system are ” It has been unprecedented for many for centuries. ” Thousands of years. “

Carbon dioxide is currently at its highest level in at least 2 million years, with increasing global heating per ton. This is causing widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere and biosphere.

Over many chapters, this report highlights the valuable contribution satellites make in tracking change and improving models of climate forecasting. New and improved observational data records, longer than the previous report of the 2013 IPCC, add to the reliability of climate attribute assessments.

“The latest IPCC report underscores the value of the ESA program in providing evidence for monitoring and understanding. Climate changeJoseph Aschbacher, ESA Secretary-General, said: “These difficult facts are also appreciated by political decision makers in Europe and around the world.”

This report clearly acknowledges the ESA’s Climate Change Initiative (CCI). This helps science teams create long-term datasets of up to 40 years on key aspects of climate known as essential climate variables.

These variables underpin the “headline indicators” of climate monitoring. Fifteen scientists from ESA’s CCI program acted as report contributors, and five took the lead in coordinating the roles of the authors.

Satellite data provides valuable support for the IPCC Climate Report

The Upsala Glacier is the third largest glacier on the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Many glaciers on the Patagonian Ice Field, including Upsara, have receded over the last 50 years due to rising temperatures. Earth observation satellites, including the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, have closely monitored the Upsala Glacier and have revealed that it has receded approximately 9 km between 1985 and 2021. Satellite data is useful for monitoring changes in glacier mass and subsequent contributions to glaciers. sea ​​level rise.Credits: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2021) processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Sea ice

Remote sensing has revolutionized our knowledge of the frozen regions of the world, especially near the poles where conditions make surface observation difficult.

The spread of Arctic sea ice in September continues to decline over the long term. This is a trend tracked from space since 1979. The model simulations shown in the report, along with satellite-based observation datasets supported by ESACCI, predict that the Arctic Ocean will be virtually “ice-free.” At least one summer by 2050.

Glacier decline

Most of the glaciers in the world are receding. Glacier ice loss has been accelerating since the 1990s and is “very likely” due to human influence. Satellite records and CCI-supported studies that contribute to the global glacier inventory provide important evidence for the report. These data track glacier mass balance and elevation changes across thousands of remote glaciers around the world and assess their contribution to sea level rise.

The ice sheet melts

Summer sea ice reductions can be undone within decades if greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly reduced, but many other changes will last for hundreds to thousands of years. Most notable are ice sheet melting, sea level rise, ocean warming, and acidification.

Satellite data provides valuable support for the IPCC Climate Report

This animation shows the spread of the permafrost from 1997 to 2018. Frozen Arctic soils are set to release large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as they continue to thaw for decades to come. Despite concerns that this will contribute to future global warming, the scale and speed of this important climate process remains uncertain. To address this knowledge gap, ESA-funded researchers have developed and released a new permafrost dataset. This is the longest satellite-derived permafrost record currently available. Credit: ESA (Data source: Permafrost CCI, Obu, J. et al.2020)

The Greenland ice sheet has lost an estimated 4890 Gt of ice since the 1990s due to surface melting and spillage. Antarctic ice sheet loss is approximately 2670 Gt over a similar period, with West Antarctica ice sheet melting predominant.

New insights since the IPCC’s latest report have been made possible by combining observations and modeling to understand the surface processes that promote ice loss. Ice sheet loss rates are accelerating. The report shows that ice sheet loss increased fourfold between 1992-1999 and 2010-2019.

Observations from multiple missions, including data from ESA’s ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat, CryoSat, and EU Copernicus Sentinel-1 missions, monitor ice sheet changes as well as ice sheet mass loss. Has proven to be important for. Is currently a major factor in rising global sea levels. The ESA-supported Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise (also known as IMBIE) provided updated adjusted satellite estimates of the ice sheet’s contribution to sea level rise.

Permafrost and snow cover

As the Earth continues to warm, we expect a significant reduction in permafrost and seasonal snow cover. Both are the subject of research in CCI’s research projects, and new data products such as snowwater equivalents “significantly improved the assessment of large-scale changes.” Each project has released satellite-based records that characterize changes over the last few decades.

sea ​​level rise

Since 1901, sea level has risen 20 cm, and the rate of rise has accelerated to 3.7 mm every year since 2006. Depending on future carbon emissions, average sea level could rise another 28-101 cm by 2100. Up to 2m if the ice sheet becomes more unstable.

Thanks to the satellite era, we can better understand the changing world. These globes (from top left) include ocean color data, significant wave heights, regional average sea level trends, sea level water temperature, magnetic field fluctuations, NASA blue marble, world city footprints, and gravity geoids. , Shows the land of the world along with ocean currents. , Ozone, nitrogen dioxide, fire hotspots. Credits: ESA / CCI / CNES / LOGOS / CLS / DLR / NASA / CNES / KNMI

Satellite altimeter technology provides accurate measurements of sea level changes. Global observations over the last three decades are consistent with the contribution of rising sea levels due to the loss of ice, in addition to the role of thermal expansion.

The Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched into orbit in November 2020 to carefully monitor sea level rise. Using the latest radar advanced technology, the satellite provides a new overview of the ocean surface topography and is set to move forward over the long term. It is a long-term record of sea level measurement that began in 1992, and is a state-of-the-art mission dedicated to measuring sea level rise.

Climate modeling

In the current IPCC report, the relationship between earth observations and climate models is closer than in 2013, and the importance of individual models is weighted according to their consistency with observations.

These are presented with ice-sheet dynamics, sea surface temperature, sea ice, sea-level satellite-based data, and improved representations of clouds, soil moisture, marine biogeochemistry, and regional carbon balance. Many of these comparisons and model outputs utilize CCI datasets and members of the CCI Climate Modeling User Group, as well as multiple satellite datasets to improve intercomparisons and how climate variables are represented in the Earth system. Supported by projects such as RECCAP-2. model.

ESA will release a new map of the world’s terrestrial biomass for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). This will help support the first global share acquisition of global climate mitigation and adaptation efforts as part of Paris’ goals. agreement.


ESA astronauts join a glacier expedition in the Alps


Quote: Satellite data is available from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-satellite-valuable-ipcc-climate.html on August 31, 2021 IPCC Climate Report (August 31, 2021) Provides valuable support for

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Satellite data provides valuable support for the IPCC Climate Report

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