Week 1: Oceans and Climate > Topic 1c - Climate change

Climate change is the hot topic of the moment. The oceans play a key role in the Earth’s climate system as it transports heat and carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas).

As a result of human activity, and greenhouse gases, the climate is warming, the ocean expands and its level rises.

Since the launch of the first weather satellite in the 1950’s, EO Satellites have proven to be vital tools for climate research. The latest addition to the network of global satellites, Sentinel 3a, is now providing even more precise measurements for observing climate change.

There are two types of data, which make up the climate data record:

Level 1 data: These are raw data, which are essential climate data measurements coming from satellites.

Level 2 data: These are datasets, where algorithms are applied on. This includes geophysical variables that people can work with e.g. Sea surface temperature and sea surface height.

Importance of consistency

The data set of all the climate data records need to be consistent over a long time period. Since nature and the environment are changing, we want to make sure not to measure changes in the satellite sensors, but rather what is happening in nature. Over a long time series small changes can make a big difference, which is why the climate data sets need to be carefully observed and monitored.

The oceans are dynamic, complex and constantly changing, so identifying the reasons for its behaviour is crucial for us to adapt to and mitigate the effects of our climate changing.

Optional Mini Task:

Visit the ESA CCI webpage to find out about the Essential Climate Variable projects that are being developed using satellite data.

Which of these projects will be most useful for understanding, monitoring, and mitigating the impacts of climate change in your location?

Featured Educators:

Explore the data

EUMETSAT Oceans MOOC Data Viewer

Optional further reading

View featured satellites on the satellite tracking app

To download the video above please click the ‘Download video’ button located on the top-right.

You can download the video transcript pdf below onto your computer by opening the document, right-clicking and selecting the save option.

View featured imagery, animations and external links below

1c-transcript.pdf

Sea Surface Temperature for the North Atlantic Ocean for 18 July 2016

A global array of more than 3,000 free-drifting profiling floats that measures the temperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean. Positions shown are of the floats that have delivered data within the last 30 days (18/07/2016).

The Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive (IGRA) consists of radiosonde and pilot balloon observations at over 2,700 globally distributed stations, measuring variables including pressure, temperature, geopotential height, relative humidity, dew point depression, wind direction and speed, and elapsed time..

From 2005-2009, Solar incoming & reflected,thermal outgoing & netto, Radiation Budget

Global map of surface stations that monitor climate from the Earth’s surface

Without intercalibration. (HOAPS) set is a completely satellite based climatology of precipitation, evaporation and freshwater budget (evaporation minus precipitation) as well as related turbulent heat fluxes and atmospheric state variables over the global ice free oceans

Maximum solar activity (rhoMax)

With intercalibration. (HOAPS) set is a completely satellite based climatology of precipitation, evaporation and freshwater budget (evaporation minus precipitation) as well as related turbulent heat fluxes and atmospheric state variables over the global ice free oceans