Space4Climate: Part 2

A collaborative showcase with the UK’s Earth observation community, the UK Space Agency, and the European Space Agency

By United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

3. Monitoring Earth's Climate In The Future

The long satellite-derived climate data sets showcased in Part 1 are used, and will continue to be used, by current and future generations of scientists to monitor and understand our changing climate.


It is vital that these datasets are updated. This requires future satellite missions able to capture this data to be planned now. The UK is playing a leading role in designing and building climate satellites for future monitoring of our planet.

Monitoring Earth’s climate in the future - TRUTHS space mission - a space-based climate metrology observatoryUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

TRUTHS Mission - A Space-Based Climate Metrology Observation

TRUTHS is a climate mission conceived by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and led by the UK Space Agency (UKSA). It will be delivered by the European Space Agency (ESA) to establish a space-based climate observatory. 

Designed for metrology, it will provide data of the Sun and Earth with improved accuracy.  It will also improve the performance of other satellite missions through calibration in-orbit, creating a new ‘gold standard’ reference for climate measurements.

Critical decisions impacting society and economies are increasingly reliant on trustworthy Earth Observation data. Experts in metrology - the science of measurement - validate this satellite data by taking measurements from deserts, oceans, snow fields and air. This is vital to give decision-makers confidence in using satellite data to inform international negotiations at COP26 and to support the ambitions of individual countries.

BIOMASS space missionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

BIOMASS Space Mission

BIOMASS is an ESA Mission due for launch in 2023. It was devised by Professor Shaun Quegan, University of Sheffield and the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO). 

It is being built in the UK by a consortium led by Airbus and will provide crucial information about the state of our forests and how they are changing. The data will be used to further our knowledge of the role forests play in the carbon cycle. 

It is important that the international space community plans today for the missions of tomorrow which will supply vital information for future generations of scientists to continue to understand and monitor Earth’s climate.

Measuring Carbon Dioxide from space – MicroCarb space missionUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

MicroCarb Space Mission - Measuring CO2 From Space

The French space agency CNES and the UK Space Agency are collaborating on MicroCarb, a climate satellite mission to measure how climate change is changing carbon sources and sinks. This data will help to monitor how well Paris Agreement carbon targets are being met and alert scientists when ecosystems' ability to absorb carbon alters. 

MicroCarb will be the first European satellite dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas caused by human activity and a key contributor to climate change. 

The UK is a world leader in Earth Observation Metrology, playing a leading role in designing and building climate satellites for future monitoring of our planet.

Using satellites to inform energy efficiency improvements in buildingsUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

How Can Satellites Improve Energy Efficiency in Buildings?

With a constellation of infrared satellites launching from 2022, Satellite Vu will monitor the temperature of any building on the planet in near real time to determine valuable insights into economic activity, energy efficiency and carbon footprint.

This image of Liverpool is a proof of concept of high-resolution thermal satellite imaging, using aerial surveys to inform a targeted roadmap for energy efficiency improvements.

4. Informing Climate Action Around The World

Our space community is working internationally to enable people around the world to utilise data from space.

The UK Space Agency’s  award-winning International Partnership Programme (IPP) was launched in 2015. It uses UK organisations' space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide measurable and sustainable economic, societal and/or environmental benefits to developing countries.

Informing climate action around the world - Helping small island nations to obtain climate financeUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Helping Small Island Nations To Obtain Climate Finance

Small island nations in the Pacific are exposed to the damaging effects of climate change. Such changes in the climate system have direct effects on the livelihoods, the economy, overall development and the very existence of many small island nations.  

The IPP CommonSensing project uses satellite remote sensing to provide evidence and data for funding applications to the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub. It is supporting Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to improve national resilience to climate change.  

Renewable energy analytics platform Re-Sat supports the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. It fuses satellite and in-situ weather data with advanced analytics to provide highly detailed renewable energy information. This helps decision-makers to optimise the mix and location of renewables and assess potential investment financial viability.

Harnessing space data to support transition to net zeroUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Harnessing Space Data To Support Transition To Net Zero

The Institute for Environmental Analytics, based in Reading, UK, has now rolled out Re-Sat, an IPP project, to 7 small island developing states.

Changes in climate impact on human health now, and will in the future, including threats from diseases. Climate data from satellites enables investigation and improvement in predicting outbreaks of climate-sensitive infectious diseases, like cholera.

Researchers at ESA Climate Office and Plymouth Marine Laboratory were able to accurately forecast an outbreak on the Indian coast. They discovered that phytoplankton presence, salinity and temperature were the strongest predictors of such outbreaks.

Harnessing space to predict and prevent infectious disease outbreaksUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Harnessing Space to Predict and Prevent Disease Outbreaks

Sea surface salinity is one of the datasets used by the researchers.  It is based on observations from the three satellite missions that measure sea-surface salinity from space – Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity, Soil Moisture Active Passive and Aquarius.

Tropical Storm Imelda was the 4th wettest cyclone on record in Texas, USA, in 2019, causing devastating and record-breaking floods.

Telespazio UK's Rainfall Explorer allows users in the finance sector to quickly extract information about the rainfall leading up to a flood event and to calculate how often that amount of rainfall is likely. This helps the insurance industry and informs the designers and builders of new infrastructure such as bridges and railways.

Space data can be used to predict floods and improve resilienceUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Using Space To Predict Floods And Improve Resilience

This is a snapshot of global return level dataset from the Telespazio Rainfall Explorer. It represents the 50-year return level of maximum 5-day precipitation. Data provided to the World Bank as part of the ESA Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) project.

Space data can be used to predict floods and improve resilienceUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

The top plot of this image shows accumulated rainfall for the 5 days between 15 Sep 2019 and 19 Sep 2019.

The plot at the bottom shows the return period of that rainfall – the estimated average time interval between rainfall events of similar magnitude. 

Kiribati, a Pacific nation made up of a number of low-lying atolls (small coral islands) with a maximum elevation of five metres, is at risk due to rising sea levels.

Under the Commonwealth & Marine Economies Programme, satellite-derived bathymetry was captured by the UK Hydrographic Office to support Kiribati's successful bid for funding made to the World Bank.


This will improve safety of navigation, develop resilient infrastructure and preserve sensitive marine habitats such as coral reefs.

Supporting maritime transport to adapt to rising sea levels in the Republic of KiribatiUnited Nations Climate Change Conference COP26

Supporting Maritime Transport To Adapt To Rising Sea Levels

This image displays satellite-derived bathymetry of the Republic of Kiribati from the UK Hydrographic Office.

This story starts with Space4Climate Part1.

Credits: Story

Space4Climate, ESA, ESA/Planetary Visions, ESA-CCI, Harwell Campus, NPL, Airbus, CNES, Satellite Vu, UK Space Agency, Institute for Environmental Analytics, ESA, Telespazio UK, UK Hydrographic Office


The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views and opinions of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26. The mere appearance of the story on this website does not constitute an endorsement by the UN Climate Change Conference COP26. The UN Climate Change Conference COP26 does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness or completeness of third party material included in the story featured.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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