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Copernicus evolution – Research activities in support to a European operational monitoring system for fossil CO2 emissions (RIA Research and Innovation action) - LC-SPACE-05-EO-2019
Deadline: Mar 12, 2019  

 Aerospace Technology
 Climate Sciences

Specific Challenge:

A recent expert report assessing the need and opportunity for an independent European capacity for CO2 anthropogenic emissions has motivated an inter-institutional large scale activity to address the global monitoring of the fossil fuel emissions. The specific challenge is that while benefiting from advanced space infrastructures, there should be an operational capacity addressing a variety of scientific needs, such as reducing uncertainties on currently reported emission estimates, and policy issues related to the CO2 anthropogenic emissions, and assessing the effectiveness of CO2 emission reduction strategies should be developed. Following the Copernicus Space Component Evolution Plan, the Commission has set up a CO2 monitoring task force involving various players and Copernicus partners, selected experts in atmospheric modelling, statistical emission inventories and data assimilation, with two work packages addressing separate but interconnected tasks. The first work package (Task A co-convened by ESA and the Commission) is dealing with the Space Component (a constellation of CO2 oriented instruments), the second work package (Task B convened by the Commission) is addressing the end-to-end operational emission monitoring system, including thus inverse modelling, in-situ observation networks, and emission inventories. The overarching objective is to conduct the required R&D activities that will support this operational system.


Proposals shall support the development of a European operational monitoring system for fossil fuel CO2 emissions and shall provide the appropriate and suitable support to activities identified as priorities by the CO2 monitoring task force. These activities should therefore address all components of the system, e.g., atmospheric transport models, re-analysis, data assimilation techniques, bottom-up estimation, in-situ networks, ancillary measurements needed to address the attribution of CO2 emissions.

As it is already expected that the spatial resolution and the accuracy of the atmospheric transport models have to be significantly increased in order, for instance, to match the km scale resolution of the CO2 measurements from space, the Observing System Simulation Experiments have to be set-up to help in defining the in-situ component resulting from an optimised configuration given the future CO2 satellite constellation. Research activities are also required to better evaluate the contribution to fossil fuel emissions and thus address the attribution issue, as well as to strengthen the capacity for bottom-up estimation. This target will require the development of new measurements techniques and instruments to fill existing gaps. The overall performance of the system when reaching its full capability has to be assessed in particular with respect to the time and space requirements suggested by end users. By the same token, the potential and essential functionalities of a decision support system have to be established. More generally, this Research and Innovation action should support the design of an integrated Fossil Fuel Data Assimilation System by European experts, enabling them to collectively share their knowledge and join their forces on the multiple fronts required to develop such a system with operational capabilities.

A technical guidance document will be published with this work programme providing clarification and information in line with an update analysis with respect to the evolution of Copernicus in this domain.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of 9 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This topic contributes to the Horizon 2020 focus area "Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future".

Expected Impact:

Fulfil the technological and scientific needs for the integration of this European end-to-end operational system, in particular:

  • Contribute to solving scientific issues that are critical to ensure a successful development of the operational system;
  • Improve on the performance and resolutions of regional scale atmospheric transport models;
  • Make a significant contribution helping countries in evaluating the effectiveness of their CO2 emission reduction strategies such as those associated with the impact of the Nationally Determined Contributions;
  • Support the optimal planning of networks of in-situ measurements in coordination with the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS) programme and contribute to develop and validate techniques enabling the quantification of fossil fuel CO2 emissions.
  • Identify the functionalities of a decision support system for monitoring anthropogenic emissions and discrimination from other sources – e.g. biomass burning.

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