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Climate change is a reality and it is one of the greatest challenges facing mankind in the 21st century. To better understand this challenge and especially to be able to anticipate its future evolution requires reliable long-term information which only space-based observations by satellite can provide.
THERE IS CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT THE EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE AND OCEANS ARE WARMING: AVERAGE GLOBAL AIR TEMPERATURES ARE ON THE INCREASE, ICE AND SNOW COVER IS DISAPPEARING FAST AND SEA LEVELS ARE RISING.
EUMETSAT contributes to the global effort to meet the climate challenge. Its Meteosat and Metop satellites, as well as data and product from the Jason satellites already provide a wealth of environmental and climate data and products generated by EUMETSAT as well as its Network of Satellite Application Facilities (SAFs) that are distributed rapidly to the global user community. The organisation also possesses a unique archive of relevant long-term satellite data dating back to 1981.
At the same time EUMETSAT , together with its partners, is spearheading the overall effort to define a comprehensive, global, space-based climate monitoring system to address the challenges posed by global climate change.
The rise of global sea levels is a clear indicator of global warming. Since 1993 sea levels are rising by 3.2 mm/yr compared to an average rate of 1.8 mm/yr in the period between 1961 and 1993. Melting ice and snow covers play an important role in the global sea level rise.
Sea ice extent for the past five years (in million km2) for the northern hemisphere, as a function of date. Source: DMI,OSI SAF
A variety of methods are used to observe these sea level trends (e.g. buoys and floats) but only satellite-based ocean altimetry is truly capable of observing the rise of sea levels continuously over long timescales. Also, satellite altimetry can observe the variations of sea level rise in a reliable fashion and provide a basis for proper interpretation.
In order to achieve an unbroken record a series of Ocean observers have been monitoring the mean sea level trend since the launch of TOPEX/Poseidon in 1992. Jason-2 was launched in June 2008, and is the third ocean altimetry satellite to continue the ongoing monitoring of the mean sea level trend from space. EUMETSAT now distributes oceanographic data and near-real time products based on Jason-2 observations via its flexible dissemination system for environmental data, EUMETCast. Jason-3 will then take over from Jason-2 in the 2013 timeframe to ensure an unbroken chain of observations; discussions for a follow-on programme are already under way.
12-page leaflet with an overview explaining the global challenge of Climate Monitoring, and EUMETSAT's contribution