ESA to Host New Climate Modeling Hub in the UK

European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A new international project office that will support climate modelling activities and help to boost global understanding of the changing environment is to be hosted by ESA.

Due to open this autumn, the office will be based at the agency’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) in the UK, which already hosts ESA’s Climate Office.

Computer models are essential for monitoring and predicting the course of climate change, often decades into the future. The international climate science community is increasingly using these projections to help decision-makers develop strategies to adapt to the consequences of a changing climate.

The World Climate Research Programme – which helps to coordinate global climate research – selected ESA to host a new international project office dedicated to supporting the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), an initiative that uses modelling to better understand past, present and future climate changes.

Initiated by the World Climate Research Programme in 1995, CMIP brings together over 30 climate modelling centres from countries around the world.

The project enables scientists to validate models by testing how they perform against real-world observations. These comparisons help identify how models could be improved to better represent the climate and thereby give greater confidence to projections of future climate.

As the importance of computer modelling in climate monitoring continues to grow globally, the project office will provide crucial scientific and technical support to CMIP’s modelling centres.

Elodie Viau, head of ESA’s ECSAT facility, said: “As well as enabling the next generations of telecommunications, supporting space exploration, and fostering the development and commercialisation of sustainable solutions on Earth, ECSAT is an important hub for climate research. We look forward to further supporting global efforts to understand and mitigate climate change by hosting the international project office.”

Through its Climate Office, ESA is already a major provider of climate observations. Science teams working as part of the agency’s Climate Change Initiative transform environmental information collect by ESA satellites into global, long-term climate data.

Susanne Mecklenburg, head of the ESA Climate Office, said: “By hosting the CMIP international project office, ESA is supporting European leadership in climate monitoring, analysis and prediction, thus providing a valuable service to the community.”

Detlef Stammer, chair of the World Climate Research Programme Joint Scientific Committee, said: “By bringing the climate observation and modelling communities closer together, the office aims to contribute to help better understand past, present and future climate changes.”

Beth Greenaway, head of Earth observation and climate at the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK is a leader in international efforts to understand and combat climate change, and we strongly welcome the arrival of this new ESA-hosted office. As we look towards this year’s United Nations Climate Change conference, the space sector is more focussed than ever on showcasing the skills and technologies that will help us adapt to a changing climate and to enable sustainable development across the UK, and worldwide.”