The main objective of the sea level CCI project is to produce and validate a Sea Level Essential Climate Variable (ECV) product. It represents the first phase of the ESA Climate Change Initiative program that aims at setting up in a second phase an “operational processing capacity of Earth Observation data”.
To achieve this global objective, the specific objectives for the Sea Level ECV are:
To involve the Climate research community
..to improve the understanding of this community's needs and thus ensure a perfect consistency between the need and the future development and improvement of the altimeter processing system. A clear gap exists between the requirements expressed by the CGOS ([RD-6]) and the current status of the altimeter sea level error budget. Consequently, the user consultation planned at the beginning of this project is an important step to revisit and to precise these requirements in order to find a consensus between the Climate Research and the Earth Observation communities.
To develop, test and select the best algorithms and standards
..in order to produce high quality sea level products for climate applications. These foreseen activities will allow the altimeter community to work on the development of climate optimized processing algorithms. A large spectrum of algorithms and methods will be assessed during the project and the more relevant for climate applications will be selected. The project will make an extensive use of pre-existing algorithms, software and validation facilities; however, a self-sufficient production prototype will be developed specifically for the generation of the ECV products.
Assess and collect information on the quality and error characteristics
..of the Sea Level ECV product through the involvement of independent climate research groups. The main objective here is to obtain relevant feedback from the user community in order to qualify the accuracy and suitability of the ECV products and to define new way of improvements. It is also the opportunity to implement an in-depth dialogue between the Climate research and Earth Observations communities which is fundamental to address climate change issues.
Provide a complete specification of the operational production system
..that should be developed during the phase 2 of the ESA CCI programme. Thanks to the experience that will be acquired during this project, we aim at providing a complete specification of the future operational production. A key element will be to optimize the architecture of this system to favour close interactions and synergy with elementary mission data production centres, with the modelling groups and with the validation teams. System engineering teams will be involved to perform those activities.
The above objectives are achieved by the co-ordination and co-operation by the intereactions between the project and the user groups as shown below:
Overview of interaction of groups involved in production of an ECV variable
In Summary, the consortium emphasises the importance of setting up a transverse organisation that coordinates the Earth Observations team, Climate Research experts, and System Engineers. This diverse partnership is a key factor to the success of CCI ECV projects, as much as the development of an operational system for each ECV product.