Using EU Space to predict and prepare for the future of weather, climate and water

Using EU Space to predict and prepare for the future of weather, climate and water

As we recognise World Meteorological Day today, the World Meteorological Organisation asks that we take a moment to consider the future of weather, climate and water across generations. 

According to data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), the future is expected to be even hotter and characterized by more extreme weather events. This prediction is supported by the latest UN report, published earlier this week, which confirmed that the global surface temperature has risen by 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900).

C3S, like other Copernicus services, utilizes a vast amount of satellite and in situ data, which it analyzes to generate valuable insights into climate change. For instance, it predicts the frequency and severity of heatwaves that are expected to occur in the coming decades. Such data is essential for both adaptation and mitigation measures, as decision-makers need to be informed to take appropriate climate action.

EU Space and Copernicus, in particular, play a crucial role in supporting society, climate researchers, and policymakers by providing authoritative information about the historical, current, and future climate in Europe and the world. The availability of operationally-produced high-quality data is essential for making informed decisions on climate action.

Local authorities and NGOs can use this information to be more proactive to disasters. Predefined early interventions before a disaster takes place, can save human lives and reduce costs compared to performing only post-event interventions. During a recent EUSPA-hosted workshop on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action various stakeholders shared how they are already using Copernicus data and services to anticipate the impact of weather-related disasters, including severe droughts, heatwaves and floods. 

As highlighted by Josée Poirer, Senior Data Scientist Consultant in the Centre for Humanitarian Data of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “In addition to anticipating the impact of disasters, Earth Observation-derived data, like the ones coming from Copernicus, can assist in the prioritisation of actions for a more targeted and efficient response”.

Space-based solutions to weather-related risks

In addition to hosting informative workshops and webinars, EUSPA also supports companies and projects developing space-based solutions to weather-related risks. It does this primarily through Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation funding programme.

One of those projects is MAGDA, which is leveraging GNSS (including Galileo) and drones to provide the agricultural sector with precise atmosphere monitoring. 

“Climate change is expected to produce an increase in severe weather events like torrential rain, heat and cold waves, as well as weather conditions that favour agricultural pests and diseases,” says MAGDA project coordinator Eugenio Realini. “This project aims to improve site-specific weather forecasts as well as irrigation advisories, both of which will proactively contribute to protecting crops from severe weather.”.

As Realini explains, the project will exploit the potential of GNSS-, drone- and Copernicus-derived data sets to improve the prediction of severe weather events and weather-driven agriculture pests and diseases. These same weather forecasts can be used to drive a hydrological model for irrigation performance and water accounting.

Resiliency to a changing climate 

The World Meteorological Organisation was first founded 150 years ago, when pollution from industrial and human activities was just starting. Since then, the average global temperature has increased by more than 1° Celsius. 

While this increase is causing our weather to become more extreme, the good news is that technology like the EU Space Programme, along with scientific advances such as those being funded by EUSPA, have significantly improved the accuracy of weather forecasts and life-saving early warnings. 

“With climate change, the future of our weather, climate, and water cycle is set to change significantly. However, through the valuable data and services offered by the EU Space Programme, we have gained a deeper understanding of the potential changes we might face, enabling us to take proactive measures to prepare for the future. As we continue to monitor and assess the impacts of climate change on our planet, the information provided by the EU Space Programme will play a crucial role in developing effective strategies to mitigate the effects of this global phenomenon,” concludes da Costa

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