Source: World Economic Forum
Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges facing humanity. Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has been recognized as critical to mitigating some of climate change's worst impacts.
Remote sensing satellites have increased the fidelity of people's understanding of Earth system science and the evolution of the planet's climate, helping to measure different climate change indicators. Satellite measurements of air and sea surface temperatures and of sea levels, as well as other space-based observations, reveal important consequences of a warming, changing world.
A key measure of anthropogenic sources of climate change is the emission of GHGs. Of all the long-lived GHGs from human activities, carbon dioxide and methane have the largest impact on the climate. Satellites are critical to monitoring atmospheric concentration of both gases, and new satellites are planned in the near future.
While satellites provide vital data, gaps remain in modelling, mitigation and coordination. Currently, five satellites (Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT), GOSAT-2, Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, OCO-3 and Sentinel-5P) measure these gases with the precision, accuracy, resolution and coverage needed to track GHG emissions globally. Improved understanding and response can result from a holistic analytic approach that, for example, facilitates integrating space, airborne and ground-based observations, combining civil and commercial capabilities, and managing markets for emission data.
Hundreds of organizations conduct research into relevant climate change processes, but an organization has yet to be established that is dedicated to the continual and integrated development of the two core modelling fields – Earth systems modelling and economic engineering modelling – and to embedding their results in a physical visualization environment that can inform and shape decision-making. The time has come to build a new type of decision-support facility: an Earth Operations Centre that leverages space data and expertise to conduct multidisciplinary science and engineering research, and to successfully manage and coordinate net-zero efforts.