ESA Climate Office
ESA Climate Office
The ESA Climate Office is the focal point for the Agency’s climate-related activities and is based at ESA's ECSAT facility, Harwell in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. It is part of the ESA Climate and Long-term Action Division within ESA's Earth Observation programme.
Meeting climate data needs
The Climate Office aims to increase the availability and use of global, satellite-based Earth observation data for decision-making.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is leading international efforts to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris Agreement.
In response to UNFCCC requirements for systematic monitoring of the climate system, ESA launched the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) research programme in 2008. Through the CCI, we are developing a suite of global data records of key components of the climate system, known as Essential Climate Variables (ECVs).
The climate-quality datasets produced by CCI are a major contribution to the evidence base used to understand climate change, which drives international action.
Climate modellers use the ECVs to study drivers, interactions and feedbacks due to climate change, as well as reservoirs, teleconnections, tipping points, and fluxes of energy, water, carbon, and predict future change.
A total of 55 ECVs have been identified by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Information derived from satellite data can contribute to more than half of the ECVs, and the CCI research programme addresses 27 of them.
Expert science teams drawn from ESA Member States undertake research to generate the CCI ECVs that track changes across the oceans, atmosphere and land. A growing body of ECVs records is now freely available to users via the CCI Open Data Portal.
Producing these datasets is a craft: decades-long time series can be achieved by merging data from multiple satellite missions, ESA archives and other space agencies. All the CCI data products have fully characterised uncertainties and are validated using independent, traceable, in-situ measurement.
The Climate Office oversees four additional research projects that address climate systems to which several ECVs contribute, including closing the global and regional sea-level and carbon budgets and support global climate modelling efforts.
Projects in the CCI have published over 2,000 (as of January 2024) peer-reviewed research papers. This body of work supports the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) headline statements in its 6th Assessment Report,5th Assessment Report and Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. The Climate Office has established the Climate Modelling User Group (CMUG) as a dedicated forum to link the climate modelling community – with their climate system perspective – to satellite Earth observation experts, thereby fostering collaboration across the CCI programme.
The Climate Office works closely with EUMETSAT and operational climate services, in particular the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), to ensure coordination and complementarity. The processing systems and algorithms for over 20 of the Climate Change Initiative's ECV projects have been transferred for operational data provision, and the ESA Climate Office has partnered with C3S for joint data standards for ECVs.
The CCI programme supports over 450 scientists working in 178 institutions across ESA Member States to carry out the R&D the projects require.
Our post-doctoral fellowship scheme supports early-career scientists in ESA Member States to research the changing Earth system, exploiting the CCI data products to do so. The Climate Office hosts research fellows and young graduate trainees and is also a partner on the Oxford Doctoral Training Programme, and the Steering Committee of the UK EO Centre for Doctoral Training.
ESA coordinating hub
Bringing together academia and industry, the ESA Climate Office is the point of contact for organisations searching for global climate information, data, and new opportunities.
Embedded in ESA’s Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes, the Climate Office is the promotional and signposting hub for climate-related activities. Working closely with specialist ESA teams we support upcoming satellite mission and sensor preparation; and through our national, European, and global networks, promote opportunities arising from ESA projects relating to climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. The team also coordinates on new methodologies for data quality and assurance, and Artificial Intelligence for the climate.
The ESA Climate Office represents the Agency at international-level climate meetings as an observer for the IPCC, as a member of the Joint CEOS/CGMS Working Group on Climate, on the GEO Working Group on Climate, and the WCRP Data Advisory Council. We work closely with GCOS in the implementation plan for ECVs. The team has strong strategic links with space Agencies and a partnership agreement with the global research network Future Earth. This supports the ESA Climate Office and fosters the expanding use of CCI data across Future Earth’s research projects.
Communicating on climate
ESA Climate Office has an important role in raising public understanding of the climate crisis and what Earth observation data reveals about it. We use ESA’s websites and social media platforms and participate in public events to promote CCI research findings. Through our knowledge exchange project, we are developing a new online application to visualise the CCI datasets, an online toolbox for data analysis, and packs of education resources to help students and the wider public access our datasets and learn more about climate change.
Susanne Mecklenburg, Head of the ESA Climate Office
Susanne is responsible for promoting and increasing the use of satellite-based Earth Observation data in climate science. Her current focus is the delivery of ESA's Climate Change Initiative programme and developing future programme activities with ESA Climate Office as the focal point for climate.
Susanne is the ESA representative to the Joint CEOS/CGMS Working Group on Climate (WGClimate) - the body responsible for responding to the UNFCCC and GCOS on the monitoring of climate from space. She is also a member of the WCRP Data Advisory Council.
Prior to joining ESA, she worked at the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, ran the Earth Observation Programme for the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council, and acted as the UK Space Agency’s delegate to ESA on technical and scientific issues.
Amina joined as a Young Graduate Trainee after completing a Masters in Meteorology, Oceanography and Climate Science. She joined the Climate office during the Summer of 2022 with the intention to explore how Essential Climate Variables can help advance our understanding of heat extremes impacts in the tropics.
Anna Maria Trofaier, Earth Observation Applications Engineer (Cryosphere)
Anna Maria oversees the Ice Sheets (Antarctic and Greenland), Sea ice, Snow and Glaciers projects within the ESA Climate Change Initiative to ensure delivery of technical requirements. She is also currently working on developing a Massive Open Online Course on the cryosphere.
She has a background in physics and remote sensing, with a focus on polar regions and initially joined the ESA Climate Office as a research fellow.
Anna is an ESA Research Fellow focussing on the application of Machine Learning to leverage Earth Observations, specifically SAR data.
She recently finished my PhD at the University of Oxford researching organic solar cells as a renewable energy resource.
Claire MacIntosh, Climate Applications Scientist
Claire is a Climate Applications Scientist supporting atmospheric projects of the ESA Climate Change Initiative.
Having originally trained in chemistry, Claire has a PhD in satellite remote sensing of cloud properties. She has most recently held a dual research and policy remit at the UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation, developing uncertainty models in climate data records; and as a technical specialist with Space4Climate, developing frameworks for climate service.
Clément Albergel, Climate Applications Scientist (Terrestrial)
Clément is a Climate Applications Scientist. He is responsible for the Lakes, Fire, River Discharge Soil Moisture and RECCAP-2,Total Anthropogenic Water Use and Vegetation parameters projects and also for the EO4SD project
His main areas of expertise are in land surface modelling, remote sensing of soil moisture and vegetation as well as data assimilation.
He has a PhD on satellite derived observations assimilation in land surface models. Prior to joining ESA, he has held positions at ECMWF, CNRM/Météo-France as a scientist from the French National Research Centre (CNRS) to develop land surface activities.
Eduardo Pechorro, Data Engineer
Ed is responsible for the Knowledge Exchange project, tasked with enhancing awareness, access, use and understanding of ESA Climate Change Initiative data. He leads on data engineering for the ESA Climate Office including its data management facility.
Ed joined the ESA Climate Office in 2014, after seven years as a delivery lead on climate change and Earth observation projects, and six years in the video games industry. He has a Ph.D in computer science.
Michael Eisinger, Performance and science Products Coordinator
Michael coordinates the teams writing software for the EarthCARE mission (Earth Cloud Aerosol and Radiation Explorer). He helps the industrial and academic partners to work together, and supports the engineers working on EarthCARE’s sensors. He first joined ESA to work on software for GOME-2 (Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment). He supports the ESA climate office when needed. He has a background in oceanic and atmospheric physics, and instruments for passive remote sensing.
Paul Fisher, Communications Manager
Paul is responsible for maximising awareness of the role satellite data play in advancing our understanding of Earth's climate system and predicting future change among a diverse range of audiences from policy-makers teachers and the public.
He has close to 20 years of public relations and marketing experience spanning environmental consultancy and international development settings. Previously, he worked for the UK’s Centre for Hydrology & Ecology.
Sarah Connors, Earth Observation Applications Engineer (Oceans)
Formerly at the IPCC as the Head of Science Team for the Working Group I Technical Support Unit. Before that, I was Science-Policy Fellow at the European Geosciences Union and, before that, a PhD student researching methane emissions estimation at a high spatial resolution in the UK.
Simon Pinnock, Earth Observation Applications Engineer (Atmosphere)
He has a PhD in astrophysics, and subsequently worked on greenhouse gas radiative forcing at the University of Reading, UK. Previously he worked at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, on satellite monitoring of forest fires. He joined ESA in 2003, where he concentrated on developing global-scale datasets for land, oceans, atmosphere and the cryosphere.
Sophie Hebden, Research Coordinator for Earth Observations
Sophie is seconded to the ESA Climate Office from Future Earth, a global network for sustainability research. Her role includes liaising with the research networks of Future Earth to support interdisciplinary research.
She has a background in space physics and science communication. Prior to joining the ESA Climate Office she worked at the UK National Centre for Earth Observation at the University of Leicester, where she coordinated UK participation in the intergovernmental initiatives Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS).
Victoria Ayala, Team Assistant (Currently covered by Alice Kolesnikov)
Before joining the ESA Climate Office in 2018, Victoria had six years of PA experience and 11 years in office administration, but had a strong desire to work in the space industry.
Victoria is a key asset to the team, organising team meetings, travel, catering requests, social events and missions. She provides support to Susanne and the team’s participation at ESA events including the annual CCI Colocation meeting and our Climate Science Advisory Body.