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Using satellites to monitor climate change: Progress and challenges

17.02.2009
The challenges of detecting, understanding and projecting the impacts of climate change demand high-quality, global data collected consistently over decades.

In the nearly 50 years of meteorological satellite observations, the data have increasingly been used to complement research satellite data for purposes of observing climate processes and monitoring change.

However, many of the early research and meteorological satellites were either not designed for climate-quality measurements, or were not succeeded at the end of their lifetimes. The resulting patchwork of quality data has required extraordinary scientific effort to yield credible climate information.

Karl, who serves as both director of NOAA's Climatic Data Center and all of NOAA's climate services, will discuss how a new Climate Data Record (CDR) Project within NOAA will address the challenge of delivering regular climate data and information, following rigorous scientific standards, which are necessary to understand climate variability and change.

The Project will stitch together and reprocess various archives of heritage satellite data, using proven state-of-the art methods, and will address future data sources, including the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft.

The NOAA CDR Project will largely execute its activities through competitive grants and contracts, and will emphasize interagency coordination in moving technologies from research programs to operations at the National Climatic Data Center and in other parts of NOAA.

It is designed for sustained implementation, such that mature CDRs can be subjected to further improvements crafted through a parallel basic research programs as new measurements and observing systems come on-line. Numerous examples will be provided to show the importance of a well-defined and managed NOAA CDR Project.

Ben Sherman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.noaa.gov
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sds/index.html

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