Land & Earth Observation

More than half of all Global Climate Observation System (GCOS) Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) (atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic) can only be measured via remote sensing from space and another quarter require at least some space-based observations. Many of the same remote sensing techniques are used for terrestrial (Land, Ocean and Atmosphere) based observations. This section includes metrology support for all remote sensing techniques across all domains and from all platforms including satellites, aircrafts, drones, surface-based and their associated validation.


This section also covers the metrological needs of land-based in-situ observations. Land and its biosphere provide a natural sink for more than half of all the man-made CO2 emissions. Therefore, its continued health and sustainability is critical for achieving the net zero carbon goals needed to stabilise our planet. On the other hand, land can also be a source of greenhouse gas emissions, with potential tipping points such as methane release from permafrost in the cryosphere.


In this theme, our activities include developing standards and methods for the pre-flight and in-flight calibration and validation of sensors using remote sensing methods across the electromagnetic spectrum, remotely or locally deployed. It also covers the metrology needed to assign quality metrics to derived information products, i.e. accounting for retrieval algorithms, sampling and timescales that might span decades (historical and future). We also look to support those making or interpreting measurements of all land-based parameters - whether it be through laboratory calibrations or supporting field measurements in campaigns and networks.

Improving atmospheric data

Spectro-analytical techniques are used to identify and quantify concentrations of greenhouse and other gases in the a... SEE MORE

Improving climate modelling accuracy

Observations of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land from space are vital for climate studies. These are built int... SEE MORE

Seeing ocean colour from space

To analyse and assess ocean colour requires satellite measurements sensitive enough to distinguish small changes in t... SEE MORE

Confidence in climate data

The instruments used on board satellites to make measurementsof key climate variables are calibrated prior to launch ... SEE MORE

Ensuring accuracy in the upper atmosphere

Recognising this need, organisations including the European Space Agency (ESA) now require the instrumentation they u... SEE MORE