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How ESA increases climatic change awareness

The European Space Agency is committed to climate research. With numerous initiatives, it makes climate data accessible and understandable to a broad public.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is committed to climate research and is driving this forward in numerous international initiatives. Projects such as "Climate from Space" and "Treva Labs" aim to make climate data accessible and understandable to a broad public. As experts in data preparation, analysis and visualization, we are part of this important groundwork for climate awareness.

Permafrost, plankton, fires - there are many factors that can influence our climate. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) has defined a total of 54 physical, chemical or biological variables as relevant to climate. They can be used to record and model the world's climate, e.g. to understand the significance of the variables for climate change - a mammoth task. To tackle this task, organizations such as ESA have set themselves the goal of exploring the so-called Essential Climate Variables (ECV) and making the data obtained available to science and the public. For consistent climate research and greater awareness of climate change.

More than 50 climate variables are crucial for modelling the world climate

Making climate data available and usable

ESA has taken over the exploration of 23 of the 54 climate variables and collects them with the help of satellites. The advantage is that satellites provide regular, highly accurate measurements - even from areas that are difficult to access - and offer a unique perspective on changes on our planet. In this way, vast quantities of satellite images are collected, which in turn must be converted into usable data sets - no easy task.

To combine these efforts, ESA has established the so-called Climate Change Initiative. As part of this initiative, various satellite data are being analyzed by science teams throughout Europe. But that's not all. In order to make the data thus obtained available to the scientific community and the public, ESA set up an interdisciplinary team: Knowledge Exchange. As part of this team, Ubilabs contributes to making the satellite data easy to understand.

Climate from Space

Climate from Space: Storytelling creates climate awareness

But how can large volumes of data be prepared in such a way that they are equally interesting and useful for people with different levels of prior knowledge? With Climate from Space, we have implemented a project together with ESA that packages climate-relevant data in small stories and makes them tangible on an interactive globe. Users can find answers to a wide range of questions about the world's climate on the storytelling platform and get them answered in so-called stories - with catchy examples, background information, and photos, videos and animations that contribute to a simpler understanding of the complex issues. In addition, several climate variables can be compared with each other on the platform and much more complex climate relationships can be explored. Climate from Space is thus primarily aimed at educational institutions, but is also exciting for anyone who wants to explore the topic on their own.

Treva Labs: Tidbits of knowledge on climate change

Providing science and education with consistently collected data is one thing. But preparing this data in a way that makes it accessible to the general public is another challenge altogether. Not only must the data be translated into easily understandable, relevant content; dissemination channels must also be found that generate sufficient attention for the topic.

To address this challenge, ESA has launched another project to which we are privileged to contribute: Treva Labs. The idea is to develop so-called clips (climate little pictures) from ESA's existing treasure trove of data as part of the project. These are graphics that present climate-relevant information in a particularly apt way - and are thus not only easy to understand, but also encourage the target group to share or discuss the content. This content is made available to multipliers such as climate journalists and is also published to the public on a project website. As experts in data visualization, we are coordinating the project.

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