The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced a new mission to track human-made emissions of greenhouse gases from space. ESA, in cooperation with the European Union (EU) Earth observation program Copernicus, announced this mission during the UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow on November 2nd. It will be a satellite constellation called the European CO2 Monitoring and Verification Support Capacity (CO2MVS). This will help countries stay on course and achieve climate protection goals.
The satellite constellation is being developed by ESA together with the European Organization for the Use of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). The satellites will orbit the earth and measure the concentration of carbon dioxide and methane in the earth’s atmosphere in unprecedented detail and in real time. This statement was published by Copernicus representatives.
According to these representatives, the satellites could be operational by 2026. The 2015 Paris Agreement requires nations to take note of their annual progress towards greenhouse gas reduction targets. The first and second round of analysis are expected to be completed by 2023 and 2028, respectively. In this case, ESA’s mission could help in the second cycle.
The satellite constellation is believed to be “groundbreaking”. Because it detects individual sources of greenhouse gas emissions such as power plants or landfills. At present, satellites only measure the total atmospheric concentrations of the gases. The new satellites are said to offer wider coverage, sharper details and greater accuracy.
The computer models of the earth’s atmosphere and biosphere will integrate the data obtained from this constellation. These models are already used by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).
Richard Engelen, Assistant Director of CAMS, said, “By providing consistent, high-quality data on anthropogenic emissions around the world, we can support policy makers in this tremendous challenge.”