The 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, finalised in 2014, is the most comprehensive compendium of world-leading climate change research, aiming to inform policy makers around the globe of climate change, its likely effects and its probable causes. The report states with certainty that climate change is man-made and that without fast action on the part of governments around the world, the effects of climate change may become irreversible. In particular, anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases) are leading to rising temperatures that have profound and far-reaching effects on the environment and the global economy. The challenges and opportunities that this creates for the development of commercial climate services are the subject of this Kick-start Activity.
What We Look For
Kick-start Activities elaborate the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services exploiting one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation or Earth Observation). This Kick-start Activity is dedicated to the theme "Commercial Climate Services" and is aimed at identifying opportunities where there is a strong commercial case for developing services to meet the demands of particular user communities. Such opportunities include for instance assessing the impact of regulations at local, regional and national level, and the promotion of new services to support the monitoring of these regulations. In other cases, climate change opens up new business areas in order to mitigate or even exploit rising temperatures and environmental change in particular sectors.
Climate change is a particularly complex problem that is potentially relevant to many disciplines such as energy, transport, agriculture, food production, water and land use policy, exploitation of natural resources, changing demographics, urbanisation, etc. For this Kick-start theme, a number of topics of relevance are presented below (with examples) that can be addressed by the bidders. These may be at a local, regional or global scale. Other areas may be proposed (with justification) providing that they may lead to the development of commercially sustainable services.
- Health: Climate change affects various social and environmental determinants of health such as clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. Extreme high air temperatures contribute directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, particularly among elderly people. High temperatures also raise the levels of ozone and other pollutants in the lower atmosphere that exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory disease. In the developing world, human health is particularly susceptible to weather-related natural disasters such as storms, cyclones and tornadoes, the incidence of which is projected to rise.
- Energy Supply: Information on the likely impacts of climate change is significant for selecting sites and operational planning, e.g. for the siting of wind farms, power transmission lines and pipelines. Hydropower generators need rainfall data and climate information to understand seasonal rainfall patterns, their impact on energy production and when back-up energy may be required. The diminishing ice cover in the Arctic has resulted in the opportunity for vast quantities of natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals to be extracted. Oil & Gas companies, as well as shipping companies, fishing fleets, cruise boat operators and Search and Rescue teams all require accurate long-term forecasts of ice conditions in order to plan for safe and efficient operations in Arctic waters.
- Transportation and Critical Infrastructure: Changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, heatwaves, storm surges and precipitation could increase the risk of delays, disruption, damage, and failure across our land-based, air, and maritime transportation systems. Exposure to flooding and extreme snow events shortens the life expectancy of roads, though some areas may experience cost savings and improved mobility from reduced snowfall and less frequent Winter storms. High temperatures can cause rail tracks to expand and buckle, and a higher incidence of storms would cause greater disruption to airports and flights. Less sea-ice in shipping lanes may extend the shipping season and reduce shipping times and distances, but increased run-off from extreme precipitation events could cause silt and debris to build up, leading to shallower and less accessible channels.
- Management of Food and Water Resources: Agriculture is highly dependent on the climate. Increases in temperature and carbon dioxide may increase crop yields in some places if nutrient levels, soil moisture, water availability and other conditions are met, but changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods pose particular challenges for farmers and threaten food security. Heat stress can increase vulnerability of livestock to disease, reduce fertility and milk production, whilst drought conditions may reduce the amount of quality forage. As a result of increased temperatures, dramatic shifts are expected in the distribution and abundance of commercial fish and shellfish stocks. Increasing fish populations are expected in Arctic waters, but a severe decrease at equatorial latitudes close to the highest centres of human population. In many areas, climate change is likely to increase water demand while shrinking water supplies. This shifting balance will challenge the needs of growing communities, sensitive ecosystems, agriculture, energy producers and manufacturing industry.
- Compliance Monitoring: In line with scientific findings of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the EU's climate objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% in 2050 compared to 1990. From 2023, greenhouse gas emissions compliance monitoring will need to be done nationally every 5 years, presenting opportunities for the establishment of new services for countries and regions for measuring their greenhouse gas emissions, and for assessing the efficiency of their emissions reduction policy. Reliable measurement of greenhouse gas emissions (and forest inventories) would enable the improved efficiency and effectiveness of mitigation policies, direct comparability between different cities, regions and countries, and allow evidence-based verification of current inventories (e.g. for carbon trading).
The Kick-start Activity proposed should demonstrate the relevant exploitation of space-based data and technology for instance:
- Earth Observation can be used for monitoring and change detection, e.g. for greenhouse gas concentrations, land and surface temperature, sea level height, soil moisture, solar irradiance, and incidence of extreme weather events (e.g. heat waves, storm events). It can be used also for historical analysis and providing inputs to nowcasting and forecasting models.
- Satellite Navigation provides precise positioning and guidance and can support track and trace applications and geo-tagging data collection. GNSS reflectometry can also be used to provide information on sea state, ice and snow cover and for wide-swath altimetry.
- Satellite Communication enables reliable communications in maritime and remote locations where there is no terrestrial network, for instance in the transmission of sensor data to a coordinating centre, or for radio and television broadcasts to warn the public about dangerous climate-related events such as storms and heatwaves. Satellite Communications are especially important in disaster relief operations where the terrestrial telecommunication infrastructure may be damaged or destroyed.
In addition, other technologies requiring the utilisation of space assets, such as Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine Communication (M2M) could be of relevance to the service proposed.
Authorisation Of Funding
For the Thematic Call on "Commercial Climate Services", the following ESA Member States have already made funding available:
Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the United Kingdom.
In case you intend to submit a proposal for a Thematic Call and your company/organisation resides in another country, you are encouraged to contact the National Delegation.
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