CNES projects library

August 4, 2021

Space Climate Observatory (SCO)

The impacts of climate change are increasingly being felt at local level, calling for decisions at regional scale. The mission of the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) is to provide change indicators combining global satellite data with ground data, for example on health, economics and the environment.

Satellite data are crucial to understanding climate change. In fact, more than half of the variables required to study it can only be obtained from space. International organizations like the IPCC rely on this information to provide a global picture, but a link is missing to scale it to local needs.

CNES first formulated the need to cross-correlate existing satellite data and field data to deliver analytics, foresight and simulation tools to underpin local responses to climate change in 2015 at the One Planet Summit in Paris. France then steered this programme through its early stages up to the creation in June 2019 of the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) federating 29 space agencies and 3 international organizations.

Building on projects conceived at regional level, the SCO’s threefold goal is to:

  • facilitate interoperability of satellite and local data and thus “make them talk”
  • through this interoperability, establish vulnerability indicators in support of climate change mitigation or coping strategies
  • pool these tools and transpose them to other territories through an open data rationale.

The SCO label has already been granted to 36 projects meeting these terms of reference in France. These projects will enable decision-makers to address such crucial issues as shoreline retreat, rising urban temperatures, the spread of epidemics or flood management, for example.