Measurements from ESA’s SMOS mission show the thickness of seasonal sea ice. ESA


ESA’s climate-eye dilemma

Scientists face difficult choice for Europe’s next Earth-observation mission.

Quirin Schiermeier
05 March 2013

Snow, trees or the air we breathe? Europe’s environmental research community is facing the difficult task of settling which of the three should be the priority for Europe’s next Earth-observing satellite.

Around 250 Earth scientists and climate researchers will meet in Graz, Austria, this week to weigh up the scientific benefits of projects proposed for the roughly €300-million (US$390-million) seventh Earth Explorer mission of the European Space Agency (ESA).They face a choice between three projects — Biomass, PREMIER and CoReH2O (an acronym referring to cold regions and water) — preselected through peer review from more than 20 proposals. The scientists behind the missions have been preparing their proposals for years.

The Biomass project aims to take radar measurements of global forest biomass to assess terrestrial carbon stocks and fluxes. CoReH2O, also a radar mission, would measure snow cover and snow-melt rates in cold regions around the world. Finally, PREMIER would use infrared and microwave sounding to measure atmospheric composition and temperature in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, a region particularly important for climate.

Read more: ESA’s climate-eye dilemma : Nature News & Comment.

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