The Climate Symposium 2014

Climate Research and Earth Observations from Space: Climate Information for Decision Making. Darmstadt, Germany, 13-17 October 2014.

Satellite observations are a key element in an integrated and sustained climate observing system and have been critically important for monitoring and understanding the Earth’s climate system during the past several decades. The expected completion of the IPCC Fifth Assessment (AR5) in 2013–2014 makes it timely to discuss these achievements, to assess future opportunities and challenges with satellite derived climate information, and to provide guidance on future priorities.

The symposium will be an important step towards defining requirements, and the further development of an efficient and sustained international space-based Earth observing system.

This symposium is intended to bring together the international experts in climate observations, research, analysis and modeling to present and discuss results from their studies, with a particular emphasis on the role of space-based Earth observations in improving our knowledge of the current climate at global and regional scales, and in the assessment of models used for climate projections. 

More detailed information will be available during the coming months, in the meantime if you have questions please direct them via email to the Organising Committee in the first instance. Alternatively, please visit the dedicated website for the symposium, where you can register to be added to the conference mailing list.

Main Goals

The main goal of the symposium is to provide a forum for discussing the current state of climate science and climate observations in order to evaluate recent achievements, ascertain critical objectives to be achieved with satellite-based climate information, and identify gaps in the current space-based climate observing system. A major topic that will be discussed is the proposed Architecture for sustained Climate Monitoring from Space that has been developed under the auspices of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), the Coordination Group of Meteorological Satellites (CGMS) and WMO. Beyond the monitoring of the current state of the Climate System, the conference will also consider how Earth observation contributes to future developments in climate prediction and climate change projection.


  • Climate scientists primarily interested in satellite observations and their use for climate research, modelling and prediction.

  • Experts from space agencies engaged in the development of climate missions, and the development and provision of corresponding data and information services.

  • Private sector, non-governmental organisations, and organisations that are involved in the development of Earth observing and information systems, and / or dependent on science-based climate information for decision-making.


  • Satellite observations for monitoring of the climate system.

  • Satellite observations for earth system modelling and prediction.

  • Challenges and opportunities in sustaining and expanding Earth observing systems, including the role of new and emerging observing techniques.

  • Processing, re-processing and analysis of Earth observations for climate applications.

  • Archiving, distribution and access to Earth observations and information derived from the observations.

  • Results from the use of satellite observations for climate analyses and climate model validation.

  • The Scientific Organising Committee will be responsible for the further development of the suggested themes, subsidiary sessions, topics and speakers list. They will also oversee the evaluation and selection of the abstracts for submitted papers and posters to the symposium.

expected outcomes

The symposium and the follow-on activities are expected to benefit climate-related risk management, and help to underpin the development of responsible and affordable climate change mitigation and adaptation options. A key aspect will be the detection and attribution of climate change beyond the basic variables.

The symposium will also benefit climate science by putting in motion a process for creating a joint action plan for the planning and development of an international space-based climate observing system that will be responsive to the current and emerging needs in the areas of climate research, modelling and services (in the context of the Global Framework for Climate Services in the latter case).

This will be achieved by

  • Presenting recent scientific achievements related to the development and use of high-quality and innovative space-based observational datasets for climate research, assessments and evaluation of climate models that provide future climate projections. The importance of bringing together models and observations cannot be over-emphasised; while Earth observation provides evidence of variability and change now, the causality of those variations and changes and their future evolution can only be identified through the use of climate models.

  • Identifying future research and observations needed to enhance the value, and improve the sustainability of, high-impact science-based climate information obtained from space-based observations. The focus will be on Climate Data Records, including those resulting from the reprocessing of historical observations. These can help us understand past variations and change in the climate system. The use of multiple streams of observations can also help in identifying processes and interactions within the climate system, especially when used in combination with theory and models.

  • Identifying pathways for productive international collaborations for the development of satellite-based climate observations in support of climate research, prediction and services.

  • Presenting innovative methods applied to satellite data to provide better science-based applications and information to support climate decisions at all levels.

  • Discussing how to best quantify the inherent uncertainties associated with satellite observations and how to best use these uncertainty estimates in data assimilation, climate modelling and re-analyses.

  • Presenting new approaches for assimilating satellite observations, and related use, in Observing System Simulation Experiments with a view to improving climate observations and climate observing systems.


The symposium will consist of two segments. The first day/segment will focus on findings from the Fifth Assessment of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the necessary dialogue between information providers and users of science-based climate information for decision-making. The second segment of the symposium will be organised over the following three days around the key scientific themes presented above.

The scientific and technical oral and poster presentations for each daily theme will be organised in the form of a morning plenary session, including dialogue and discussion with participants, followed by a poster session with dedicated viewing time and one-on-one discussions with authors, and parallel sessions in the afternoon to allow more in-depth presentations and discussions on some major topics associated with each daily theme.


Executive Committee

  • Ghassem Asrar, Joint Institute for Global Change Research, PNNL

  • Mike Freilich, NASA

  • Volker Liebig, ESA

  • Alain Ratier, EUMETSAT

  • Barbara Ryan, GEO

  • Mauro Facchini, European Commission

Science Committee

  • Julia Slingo, Chair, Met Office (UK)

  • Olivier Boucher, CNRS

  • Antonio Busalacchi, ESSIC University of Maryland

  • Anny Cazenave, CNES

  • Mark Dowell, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

  • Erland Källén, ECMWF

  • Teruyuki Nakajima, University of Tokyo

  • Zhang Peiqun, China Meteorological Administration

  • Roger Saunders, Met Office (UK)

  • Byung-Ju Sohn, Seoul National University

  • Johannes Schmetz, EUMETSAT

  • Bjorn Stevens, MPI Hamburg

  • Greg Flato, Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis

Organizing Committee

  • Roberta Boscolo, WCRP

  • Paul Counet, EUMETSAT

  • Rowanna Comerford, EUMETSAT

  • Vladimir Ryabinin, WCRP

  • Roberta Lupis, European Commission

Partners and Support

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For information on all sponsors, please click here to visit the Sponsors area of the symposium website.

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