Deriving products and data records of several physical variables from satellite measurements has been highly recommended by the 2010 Update of the Implementation of Plan for the Global Observing System for Climate in Support of the UNFCC1 (GCOS-138, August 2010; the 'IP-10' - WMO, 2010). These variables are defined as Essential Climate Variable (ECV).
Following this recommendation, two products from SLSTR contribute to the Global Observing System for Climate, providing the following parameters.
Sea Surface Temperature (SST) remains an essential input for the understanding of the climate system on different time scales. This knowledge is needed for several applications: validation of climate-model, initialisation and constraint of seasonal and decadal prediction systems, computation of air sea fluxes of heat, moisture, gas and momentum, estimation of net air-sea flux of carbon, monitoring of marine biodiversity and habitat properties.
Burned area, active fire detection and Fire Radiative Power (FRP) datasets are components of Fire Disturbance. Active fire methods provide more possibilities than those offered by 'burned area' maps: detection and quantification whilst a fire is still burning. It also permits the possibility of assessing the fire's rate of radiative heat release (i.e. the FRP, related to the rate of fuel consumption and smoke emission).
Even if Land Surface Temperature (LST) is not considered an ECV, its high value in the determination of surface energy, water fluxes and interpretation of surface characteristics make this parameter essential in the "Global Observation System for Climate". Indeed, the nature of the diurnal temperature variations is linked to vegetation and moisture characteristics of the land surface. As a consequence, the LST derived from SLSTR measurements support the generation of land ECVs (see product T.12 in Systematic observation requirements for satellite-based data products for climate).
Even if they are minor constituents of the atmosphere by mass, atmospheric aerosols have a major impact on climate, and particularly on climate change. By scattering and absorbing radiation, aerosols have a direct influence on global radiation balance and an indirect impact on cloud reflectivity, cloud cover and cloud lifetime. Anthropogenic aerosols have been identified as the most uncertain climate forcing constituent by the IPCC.
The aerosols ECVs are built on by gathering (not exclusively, but mainly) information on aerosol optical depth, light scattering and absorption coefficients, aerosol size distribution and vertical distributions of aerosol backscattering and extinction. Although it is not a core product in the ground segment specification, SLSTR has been designed to provide information on Aerosols Optical Depth (AOD).
For further information about climate applications and services available, see: Copernicus website.