COP26 in Glasgow – Space-based Earth observation working to tackle climate change

COP26 in Glasgow – Space-based Earth observation working to tackle climate change

From 1 to 12 November, the world’s leaders came together at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow. For a climate-focused space agency like CNES, this was obviously an event not to be missed, as satellites are key to observing the effects of human-induced climate change.

From 1 to 12 November, the world’s leaders came together at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow. For a climate-focused space agency like CNES, this was obviously an event not to be missed, as satellites are key to observing the effects of human-induced climate change. Indeed, satellite technologies give scientists the means to measure a broad range of essential climate variables vital for modelling climate change, such as ocean temperature and sea-surface height, inland freshwater reserves, soil moisture and biomass, not to mention the carbon and methane gases in the atmosphere.

CNES and its partners were therefore out in force at COP26:

1 November – France Pavilion, mobilizing space solutions for climate action: announcement of the ratification of the Space for Climate Observatory International Charter

At the panel session organized with Kayrros SAS on mobilizing space solutions to support climate action policies, CNES announced the date on which the Space for Climate Observatory International Charter will be coming into effect. The Space for Climate Observatory (SCO), which now has 36 signatory nations and international organizations on board and more than 40 projects in its portfolio around the globe, will be adopting a new governance as of 1 July 2022. Organizations and corporations that wish to contribute to the deployment of downstream applications derived from satellite data will thus be able to join.

2 November – ESA booth, Green Zone: CNES and UKSA sign new agreement on MicroCarb mission

Extending their collaboration to develop and operate the MicroCarb satellite to observe CO2, the principal greenhouse gas driving global warming, CNES and the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) signed an amendment to their cooperation agreement. Under the amendment, UKSA is upping its funding contribution by €4.6 million to provide a total of €16.4 million for the mission. Thanks to its compact and innovative instrument, MicroCarb will measure CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere with sufficient precision to calculate surface fluxes. The satellite will start its five-year mission to deliver these precious data in 2023 to help the scientific community define and qualify our planet’s carbon budget. MicroCarb’s exploratory city viewing mode will also enable it to observe the carbon emissions of large cities with unequalled accuracy.

4 November – France Pavilion: Advancing knowledge to adapt water resource management in response to climate change

Organized by the French Partnership for Water (PFE), the International Office for Water (OiEau), CNES and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), this event gave a broad perspective of the new scenarios set out in the latest report from the IPCC and their likely impacts on water cycles. Various examples of applications and uses also underlined the added value that space-based Earth observation brings to managing water quality and availability (agriculture, navigability, flooding and drought, etc.).

10 November – University of Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre: panel session on Earth-observation applications

The University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre and the Space for Climate Observatory (SCO), in partnership with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), organized a panel session on Earth-observation applications designed to help cope with climate change. Sharing of data, experience and methodologies were on the agenda at this session to emphasize the importance of being able to access data and the need to share knowledge. Clearing obstacles to uptake of Earth-observation data for climate action is crucial for developing nations, whose special needs and challenges were a focus throughout the event. Speakers highlighted scientists’ efforts to step up capabilities.

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