Space-based Earth observation in support of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement

Hegglin, MI, Bastos, A, Bovensmann, H, Buchwitz, M, Fawcett, D, Ghent, D, Kulk, G, Sathyendranath, S, Shepherd, TG, Quegan, S, Röthlisberger, R, Briggs, S, Buontempo, C, Cazenave, A, Chuvieco, E, Ciais, P, Crisp, D, Engelen, R, Fadnavis, S, Herold, M, Horwath, M, Jonsson, O, Kpaka, G, Merchant, CJ, Mielke, C, Nagler, T, Paul, F, Popp, T, Quaife, T, Rayner, NA, Roberts, C, Schröder, M, Sitch, S, Venturini, S, van der Schalie, R, van der Vliet, M, Wigneron, J-P and Woolway, R 2022 Space-based Earth observation in support of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10.

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Space-based Earth observation (EO), in the form of long-term climate data records, has been crucial in the monitoring and quantification of slow changes in the climate system—from accumulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, increasing surface temperatures, and melting sea-ice, glaciers and ice sheets, to rising sea-level. In addition to documenting a changing climate, EO is needed for effective policy making, implementation and monitoring, and ultimately to measure progress and achievements towards the overarching goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement to combat climate change. The best approach for translating EO into actionable information for policymakers and other stakeholders is, however, far from clear. For example, climate change is now self-evident through increasingly intense and frequent extreme events—heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, and flooding—costing human lives and significant economic damage, even though single events do not constitute “climate”. EO can capture and visualize the impacts of such events in single images, and thus help quantify and ultimately manage them within the framework of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, both at the national level (via the Enhanced Transparency Framework) and global level (via the Global Stocktake). We present a transdisciplinary perspective, across policy and science, and also theory and practice, that sheds light on the potential of EO to inform mitigation, including sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, and adaptation, including loss and damage. Yet to be successful with this new mandate, EO science must undergo a radical overhaul: it must become more user-oriented, collaborative, and transdisciplinary; span the range from fiducial to contextual data; and embrace new technologies for data analysis (e.g., artificial intelligence). Only this will allow the creation of the knowledge base and actionable climate information needed to guide the UNFCCC Paris Agreement to a just and equitable success.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: climate change, Earth observation, Paris Agreement, enhanced transparency framework, mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, global stocktake
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Earth Observation Science and Applications
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 12 May 2023 10:28
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 10:28

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