Overview and goals

Satellite data users need to be able to make rapid judgments on the validity and trustworthiness of Earth Observation data and the derived climate data sets. The QA4ECV (Quality Assurance for Essential Climate Variables) project is an international effort, funded under theme 9 (Space) of the European Union Framework Program 7, which will develop a Quality Assurance (QA) system for observational data products. QA4ECV will perform a detailed practical demonstration of the QA concept concentrating on six Essential Climate Variables (terrestrial and atmosphere), for which harmonized retrievals will be developed based on the communities’ best practice.


Figure to be updated by NPL (Emma Woolliams)

The project objectives for QA4ECV are two-fold:

  1. Develop traceable quality assurance methods for ECVs, including a generic and trustable system for quality assurance (QA) of satellite retrievals, data products, and in situ retrievals that can be applied to many ECVs as a prototype of a sustainable service. The system will also comprise multi-use QA tools (software, procedures, analysis) and SI/community traceable standards to support the climate science community to implement consistent QA processes on their own satellite-derived products, and provide an independent verification framework, capable of assessing the quality characteristics of input data, processing algorithms and resultant products for both external suppliers and customers of ECV product development teams.
  2. Generate multi-decadal satellite-derived global ECV records, including multi-decadal Climate Data Records (CDR) for terrestrial ECVs and atmospheric ECV's precursors that are based on inter-satellite calibrated data, state of the art retrievals and are fully traceable with uncertainty metrics ready for ingestion into models. QA4ECV will generate multi-decadal data records for the terrestrial sets surface albedo, leaf area index (LAI), and the fraction of absorbed photosynthetic radiation (FAPAR), as well as the atmosphere sets nitrogen dioxide (NO2), formaldehyde (HCHO), and carbon monoxide (CO).

In QA4ECV, three distinct communities will work together across a set of integrated work packages over a four-year period (2014-2017): the metrology community will develop a system for quality assurance of satellite climate data records; the terrestrial and atmosphere remote sensing communities will provide multi-decadal ECV records for species not yet covered by ESA or EUMETSAT activities, and, finally, the modeling community will synthesize the improved understanding of the climate data record (uncertainties) to improve the representation of relevant processes in climate and air quality models.

The QA4ECV project is a collaborative effort of 16 institutes:

Participating countries:
QA4ECV participating countries map. Light brown indicates a EU and/or EUMETSAT member, and red indicates countries directly involved.