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Carbon dioxide monitoring satellites

on 29 November 2021

A new satellite destined to be Europe’s prime mission for monitoring and tracking carbon dioxide emissions from human activity is being put through its paces at ESA’s Test Centre in the Netherlands.

With nations at COP26 pledging net-zero emissions by 2050, the pressure is on to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we pump into the atmosphere – but the race is also on to support the monitoring that shows targets are being met. ESA, the European Commission, Eumetsat and industrial partners are therefore working extremely hard to get the Copernicus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Monitoring mission ready for liftoff in 2025.

As the reality of climate change is hitting hard, the target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C is critical if we have any hope combating climate change – and the best way of doing this is to reduce greenhouse emissions. However, understanding that targets are being met is also a priority – and the best way of doing this is from space.

The Copernicus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Monitoring mission, or CO2M for short, is one of six Copernicus Sentinel Expansion missions that ESA is developing on behalf of the EU. These high-priority missions will address EU policy and gaps in Copernicus user needs, expanding the current capabilities of the Copernicus programme – the world’s biggest supplier of Earth observation data.

CO2M is planned as a two-satellite mission, with the option of a third satellite. They each will carry a near-infrared and shortwave-infrared spectrometer to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide at high spatial resolution. These measurements will be used by the new CO2M Monitoring and Verification Support Capacity, which the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts is developing, and which will eventually reduce uncertainties in estimates of emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuel at local, national and regional scales.

More details here.

Image credit: OHB