Towards a European Cal/Val service for earth observation



Sindy Sterckx, Ian Brown, Andreas Kääb, Maarten Krol, Rosemary Morrow, Pepijn Veefkind, K. Folkert Boersma, Martine De Mazière, Nigel Fox & Peter Thorne



by International Journal of Remote Sensing (IJRS) at 2020-02-15



Societal dependence on, and commercial and scientific exploitation of Earth-Oriented remote sensing from satellites is growing at an exponential rate. The comprehensive EU Copernicus programme provides a major contribution to the global effort, but even so, to achieve the necessary global and temporal coverage requires synergistic cooperation and associated interoperability of the Worlds sensors. For a user to exploit Earth Observation (EO) data there must exist confidence in data characteristics, quality and reliable delivery. Although long-term data records for climate may be the most demanding in nature, generation of analysis-ready operational data sets for applications, as diverse as food security to pollution monitoring, all require the user to have some quantitative level of confidence in the data and derived information. A long-term Calibration/Validation (Cal/Val) vision necessitates clear ownership and long-term funding. Delineating the roles of the European Commission (EC), space agencies and member states in long-term Cal/Val would provide clarity. It is clear that the space agencies have the responsibility to meet the mission requirement of their spaceborne instruments but long-term validation is often entrusted to interested parties bringing their own resources to the task. Furthermore, there is a critical need for Fiducial Reference Measurements (FRMs), acquired in operational mode, and comprehensive in coverage both spatially and temporally, to assure that the satellite product accuracies are met. This paper discusses the current status, gaps and challenges regarding long-term Cal/Val of EO satellites and recommends the creation of a European coordinating entity for satellite product calibration and validation. The proposed entity would be an integrative organization coordinating the European Cal/Val activities in partnership with the member states and the space agencies and working together with existing data providers to secure access to satellite and in-situ data of traceable FRM standards.




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