What is CryoClim?

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What is CryoClim?


Air temperature measurements show a clear trend of global climate warming during the last decades. TheArctic temperature has increased at almost twice the rate compared to that of the rest of the world over the same period. It has been generally agreed internationally that climate monitoring is urgently needed in order to quantify and better understand the climatic changes taking place. Therefore, climate monitoring has been put at the top of the agenda by the UN and in the international Earth observation initiatives GEO and GMES.

Image courtesy NASA JPL, University of Alaska - Fairbanks http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) states in article 4.1(g), where all parties agree, to "Promote and cooperate in scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic and other research, systematic observation and development of data archives related to the climate system and intended to further the understanding and to reduce or eliminate the remaining uncertainties regarding the causes, effects, magnitude and timing of climate change and the economic and social consequences of various response strategies".

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) – established in 1992 to ensure that the observations needed to address climate-related issues are obtained and made available to all potential users – is now the recognized mechanism to facilitate the implementation of UNFCCC commitments. GCOS has established a list of Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) that are both feasible and have a high impact on the UNFCCC requirements. In 2006, GCOS issued the document “Systematic Observation Requirements for Satellite-based Products for Climate” detailing the satellite-based component of the GCOS implementation plan.

Image courtesy University of Alberta and NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Recognising the needs of climate monitoring as stated by UNFCCC and the implementation plan provided by GCOS, the project EuroCryoClim – now renamed CryoClim – was initiated in 2008 by a group of Norwegian organisations; the Norwegian Computing Center (NR), the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET Norway), the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), and the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). The project is carried out as a European Space Agency (ESA) PRODEX project supported by the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC).

Project vision

The vision of the CryoClim initiative is to develop new operational services for long-term systematic climate monitoring of the cryosphere. The system and services proposed will be designed to be integrated into the planned international system of systems for global monitoring (GEOSS) – the part of the system aimed for climate monitoring.

Based on scientific and technological results from several past and current projects, it is proposed to develop a network-based system building on standards and communication languages identified by GMES and GEO for the global system of systems. The network of processing chains and databases (the nodes) will be hosted by mandated organisations in order to ensure long-term and stable operation. The development of this system will draw on the pool of institutions that has developed the current knowledge and technology base for remote sensing of the cryosphere and data processing and management. Our ambition is that the new system we will develop, including a web-based service and new and accurate climate products, will represent a significant contribution to the very important task of monitoring the development of the climate on our planet.

There is added value by expanding a first version of such a system with contributions from more European countries. It is recognised that it would be of particular importance to include the monitoring of Greenland – the second larges ice cap on Earth – and the glaciers in the Alps, where climate changes are taking place rapidly. Therefore, the long-term vision includes the establishment of collaboration with and contributions from other European organisations that would be capable of monitoring these regions and providing the needed products.

Main functionality and system requirements

  1. The system functionality will be provided through web services.
  2. The web services should follow state-of-the-art principles for spatial data.
  3. The service offered by the system will be free of charge.
  4. he product production chains and the corresponding databases should be hosted by mandated organisations.
  5. The databases should be integrated over the Internet in a seamless and scalable network, which is open for inclusion of other databases/sub-services in the future.
  6. The system tools should be state-of-the-art open solutions following international standards.