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Earth observation for climate resilience: PML supports launch of new UK climate information service

8 March 2023

The UK Earth Observation Climate Information Service (EOCIS) is designed to support better-informed decision-making 

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) is among a consortium of world-renowned, UK research institutions, launching a new national project which will enable the UK to create, maintain and expand regional and global climate data from space through its own service. 

Led by the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) - which is made up of more than 130 scientists from top universities and research organisations across the UK - and funded by the UK government through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK Earth Observation Climate Information Service (EOCIS) formally launched this week (7th March 2023).  

Earth Observations (EO) from space capture critically valuable measurements of the climate for the UK and worldwide. The EOCIS aims to transform these measurements into information usable for world-class science, climate services and decision support for policymakers.  

Trustworthy data will enable action to be taken on heatwaves, urban flooding and the health of coastal waters. The service will also provide climate information to increase knowledge about issues ranging from polar ice change to landscape and marine carbon and drought impacts on food security.  

Building on the UK-wide Space 4 Climate group, the EOCIS consortium involves some of the UK’s most prestigious research institutions for climate and earth systems.  

In EOCIS, NCEO scientists based at eight institutions across the UK (Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), University of Reading, University of Leicester, the University of Edinburgh, University of Leeds, University College London, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), and King’s College London) will be leading research activities together with colleagues from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, the University of Southampton and Bangor University.  

PML - which leads the ESA Ocean Colour Climate Change Initiative (OCCCI) - is already at the forefront of developments in Earth Observation (EO), with a particular focus on the use of high-resolution ocean colour data to improve understanding around aspects such as water quality and harmful algal blooms (HABs).   

PML’s Head of Science (Earth Observation), Professor Steve Groom, said:

“This is a significant collaborative venture which will improve the ways in which we use satellite-derived data to better understand some of the challenges and risks associated with climate change. By making high-quality data even more accessible, to the UK and the wider world, we can help ensure decisions around climate resilience are taken with far greater authority and impact.”  

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Minister of State at the new UK Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, George Freeman said:

“Earth Observation is vital for how we see and understand our own planet, from biodiversity through to climate change with more than half of key climate data coming from space. “The UK is at the forefront of this technology and know-how. The UK EO Climate Information Service will bring together world-leading scientific expertise from across the country to bring our view of Earth into even deeper focus.” 

The new service is designed to build on UK scientists’ world-leading capabilities in sea surface temperature, water quality, polar ice change, fire emissions and polluting gas concentrations. Key datasets produced will include the surface temperature of the UK including cities, the health of lakes and coastal waters and the productivity and resilience of vegetation. Other research will capture methane change across northern Europe and Asia.  

Professor Chris Merchant, scientific lead of EOCIS and an NCEO climate data expert at the University of Reading, added: 

“The EOCIS will enable many talented scientists all across the UK to work together, creating information needed to respond to the climate crisis. The new climate data from EOCIS will be used to better understand growing climate risks and how to respond to them. We’ll see new and better climate data from space, for the UK and the world. And we’ll see innovation around getting that information readily into the hands of people who need to use it.” 

Over the coming months, EOCIS will establish a service online where its climate information will be made freely available to all. Innovation through the project will increase the scope of that service and make climate information more accessible in new forms. The impacts of EOCIS will include advances in climate science, an engaged commercial sector supported to innovate in this sector, and better-informed decisions for climate resilience in the UK. 

To maximise the impact of EOCIS, the consortium will complement and collaborate with others meeting the need for climate information: nationally and internationally, and across science, commerce and policy.  


The UK Government recently announced funding for NERC of over £19 million for key EO and climate services, data facilities and skills. The EOCIS is one of two NCEO-led  national projects which will support UK scientists to produce new and more accurate climate data from space with unique facilities for data access and processing.  

The EOCIS has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) through the Earth Observation Investment Programme, national project funding provided by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. 

About the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) 

NCEO provides the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) with national capability in Earth observation science – monitoring the health of our planet through satellite instruments and with world-class capability in interpreting this data. It is made up of more than 130 scientists from top universities and research organisations across the UK.