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Satellite Observations in Support of Climate Challenges
Counting Carbon
The Big Thaw
Sea Level Rise
Water Security
Land Surface Change
Energy Resource Management
Part I highlighted the evidence of climate change facing humankind and explained the ‘associated risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century’ (The Stern Review).
This section explores how Earth observation satellite programmes provide information in support of the 45 Essential Climate Variables needed to detect, monitor, predict, and mitigate climate change in the Earth system.

Six different case studies are presented, each focusing on different dimensions of the Earth’s climate and showcasing the diverse contributions of satellite Earth observations. The case studies are:

— Counting carbon: monitoring the global carbon cycle to help predict, mitigate and adapt to the related climate changes.

— The big thaw: measuring the loss of our disappearing glaciers and polar ice caps.

— Sea level rise: as the oceans warm and the ice melts, the ocean rises. Satellites are already an indispensable tool in charting the changes.

— Water security: with water becoming an increasingly valuable resource and with its supply anticipated to become more erratic, improved management is becoming an important capability. Satellites can help governments in multiple ways.


— Land surface change: human action has transformed almost half of the Earth’s land surface with significant consequences for biodiversity and climate. Satellites offer unique insights into activities such as deforestation of remote areas.

— Energy resource management: in future, energy generation will be more efficient and more sustainable. Satellites can help demand forecasting and planning of renewable energy facilities.

In each case, the issues affecting society and the anticipated future consequences are discussed. The need for information and the role of Earth observation satellites are explained, including an indication of future plans and challenges.




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