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Monitoring oceans from space

Courtesy of ESA

The EMRP project ‘Metrology for Earth observation and climate’ developed new measurement standards, methods and calibration facilities to support the validation of sensors used in Earth observation satellites, both prior to and during flight.

These outputs will ensure that accurate, laboratory-quality measurements of key climate parameters can be made from space and used to underpin robust predictions of changes to the Earth’s climate.

Seeing ocean colour from space

Phytoplankton in the ocean have a major impact on the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Satellite measurements of the sunlight reflected by the ocean – ‘ocean colour’ – can be used as a measure of phytoplankton concentrations and provide vital information for monitoring the global carbon cycle and climate.

Radiometers, instruments that can be used to measure ocean colour, need to be calibrated regularly for these sensitive measurements to remain accurate. This can now be achieved using ground based calibrations to link radiometers on ocean buoys to overflying satellite radiometers.

This case study shows how the project developed a transportable calibration device providing traceability not only to the equipment on ocean buoys but also to satellite measurements of ocean colour.  

One of the first beneficiaries of the new portable calibration standard was BOUSSOLE, an international project supported by a range of organisations including the European Space Agency and French space agency CNES.

Read the full ‘Seeing ocean colour from space’ case study

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