European Earth Observation Programme: "Copernicus"
Copernicus is a European Union Programme aimed at developing European information services based on satellite Earth Observation and in-situ (non-space) data analyses.
The Programme is coordinated and managed by the European Commission. Copernicus will be served by a set of dedicated satellites (the Sentinels) and existing commercial and public satellites. The Sentinels are specifically designed to meet the needs of the Copernicus services and their users, such as the Copernicus Emergency Management Service.
The Copernicus Emergency Management Service mapping component entered in operation during 2012 and supports the management of emergency and relief efforts in case of natural disasters (e.g. floods, forest fires, landslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions), humanitarian crises, and man-made disasters around the globe.
Since the launch of Sentinel-1A in 2014, the Union set in motion a process to place a constellation of more than a dozen satellites in orbit over the course of the next ten years. Sentinel-1A provides a unique set of observations, starting with high-resolution, all-weather, day and night radar images to be used for land and ocean services.
EOSS, within the framework of the Copernicus Regulation (Art. 4.1a, 4.2 and 5.3 of Reg. 377/2014), will support the long-term main objective to ensure accuracy and reliability of information on environment and security. Within the context of the Marine Environment Monitoring Service and of the marine component of the Climate Change Service, EOSS will ensure: i. the provision of highly accurate (both in situ and EO) reference data for the permanent calibration and validation (cal/val) of the forthcoming Copernicus marine EO data products; ii. the development and application of methods to evaluate ocean biosphere variability and trends in EU seas and to investigate the fitness-for-purpose of Copernicus EO marine data candidate to the creation of Climate Data Records (CDR).
The EOSS multi-year activity will largely benefit of JRC Implementing Arrangements with International Institutions (i.e., NOAA, NIST and NASA) and partnership with research institutions in Member States.
Ocean Colour: Essential climate variables
Ocean color remote sensing primarily aims at deriving the spectrum of marine surface reflectance from satellite observations. In turn, marine reflectance can be used to determine inherent optical properties (absorption and back-scattering coefficients) and concentrations of optically significant constituents present in the upper layer of the ocean.
Among these is the concentration of chlorophyll-a, a photosynthetic pigment found in phytoplankton cells. Ocean color remote sensing is thus the only satellite remote sensing technique opening a window on ocean biology.
Considering the various products that can be derived from marine reflectance data as well as the role of marine phytoplankton in the carbon cycle (it is responsible for approximately half of the total Earth carbon fixation), the Global Climate Observation System lists both the spectrum of marine reflectance and the chlorophyll-a concentration as Essential Climate Variables (ECV).
In the context of the COPERNICUS program, JRC aims at maintaining and developing a climate-quality database of ocean-color derived products from the suite of relevant satellite missions. This implies developing advanced products, determining the uncertainties associated with these climate data records, and devising approaches to combine data from various missions, with the final objective of constructing and analyzing a multi-mission consistent data series suitable for climate research. Eventually, these climate data records can serve to study the dynamics of the marine ecosystems or compute primary production with the JRC primary productivity model.