Ten priority science gaps in assessing climate data record quality

Joanne Nightingale, Jonathan P. D. Mittaz, Sarah Douglas, Dick Dee, James Ryder, Michael Taylor, Christopher Old, Catherine Dieval, Celine Fouron, Guillaume Duveau, Christopher Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Decision makers need accessible robust evidence to introduce new policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change. There is an increasing amount of environmental information available to policy makers concerning observations and trends relating to the climate. However, this data is hosted across a multitude of websites often with inconsistent metadata and sparse information relating to the quality, accuracy and validity of the data. Subsequently, the task of comparing datasets to decide which is the most appropriate for a certain purpose is very complex and often infeasible. In support of the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) mission to provide authoritative information about the past, present and future climate in Europe and the rest of the world, each dataset to be provided through this service must undergo an evaluation of its climate relevance and scientific quality to help with data comparisons. This paper presents the framework for Evaluation and Quality Control (EQC) of climate data products derived from satellite and in situ observations to be catalogued within the C3S Climate Data Store (CDS). The EQC framework will be implemented by C3S as part of their operational quality assurance programme. It builds on past and present international investment in Quality Assurance for Earth Observation initiatives, extensive user requirements gathering exercises, as well as a broad evaluation of over 250 data products and a more in-depth evaluation of a selection of 24 individual data products derived from satellite and in situ observations across the land, ocean and atmosphere Essential Climate Variable (ECV) domains. A prototype Content Management System (CMS) to facilitate the process of collating, evaluating and presenting the quality aspects and status of each data product to data users is also described. The development of the EQC framework has highlighted cross-domain as well as ECV specific science knowledge gaps in relation to addressing the quality of climate data sets derived from satellite and in situ observations. We discuss 10 common priority science knowledge gaps that will require further research investment to ensure all quality aspects of climate data sets can be ascertained and provide users with the range of information necessary to confidently select relevant products for their specific application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number986
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number8
Early online date25 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate data record (CDR)
  • Climate data store (CDS)
  • Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)
  • Essential climate variable (ECV)
  • Evaluation and quality control (EQC)
  • In situ observations
  • Quality assurance (QA)
  • Satellite observations
  • Traceability

Cite this