Sectoral Copernicus climate applications take off

Carlo Buontempo
Samuel Almond


The EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) implemented by ECMWF has made rapid progress in transforming the data it provides into applications tailored to different economic sectors. After a successful proof-of-concept phase, the Sectoral Information System (SIS) component of C3S has developed a range of demonstrator applications which are now becoming operational. SIS transforms the data contained in the Climate Data Store (CDS) and tailors it to the requirements of users in sectors such as water management, agriculture & forestry, tourism, insurance, energy, health, coastal management, transport, infrastructure, disaster risk reduction and biodiversity.

In 2015, ECMWF signed seven contracts with European research institutes, R&D centres and commercial companies to develop proof-of-concept climate applications addressing user requirements in five sectors: water, energy, agriculture, insurance and managing the urban environment. The applications were developed based on external datasets provided, for example, by the Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF), ECMWF’s MARS archive and the European Climate Assessment and Dataset project (E-OBS dataset). These demonstrators have proved invaluable: they have shown that there is an appetite for trusted climate information and the provision of a sustainable climate service that can support downstream climate applications, impact assessments and policy development. The POC applications were completed prior to the launch of the CDS (June 2018) but have now been migrated to the CDS infrastructure.

Building on the experience gained, a series of European and global SIS applications, addressing user and policy requirements in ocean transport, coastal management, agriculture, tourism and marine fisheries, will be completed in spring 2019. Unlike the proof-of-concept applications, they are being developed directly on the CDS infrastructure. Like the migrated demonstrators, they will provide examples of how the data and tools available through the CDS can be used in specific user-relevant contexts.

Charts from an Arctic route availability application. The dotted line in the top chart represents the standard Northeast Passage route. The plot below indicates the times of year when no more than 20% of the total navigation distance is projected to be covered by ice over the next few decades (medium blue shading), plus or minus one standard deviation (light and dark blue shading). (Charts produced by B-Open for C3S)


One of the top priorities for the next phase, up to 2020, is to increase the quality and robustness of the procedures that underpin the SIS applications (methodology, workflows, metadata etc.), the documentation (FAQs, technical documents, training resources, etc.) and user support (service desk, response to feedback, application evolution). This will be supported by an Evaluation and Quality Control activity that will independently assess the fitness for purpose of all SIS output, including demonstrators, against best scientific practice, computational efficiency and user requirements.

The SIS applications are key to ensuring that trusted climate information provided by C3S is disseminated to end users across multiple sectors, enabling them to make informed decisions to mitigate or adapt to the effects of climate change. They will serve as examples of how climate applications can be developed utilising the data, technologies and tools provided by the CDS and its toolbox. They will thus help intermediaries (service providers positioned between C3S and end users) to develop further climate applications to meet societal and market needs.