'Greenhouse gases', especially carbon dioxide, are intimately connected to climate change. To understand the future evolution of the climate system and find ways to manage the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the processes and feedbacks that drive the carbon cycle must first be understood. However, our current knowledge of spatial and temporal patterns is uncertain, particularly over land and in regions of potentially high sensitivity to change like the boreal zone. The European Space Agency (ESA) GLOBCARBON project aims to generate fully calibrated estimates of at-land products quasi-independent of the original Earth Observation source for use primarily in Dynamic Global Vegetation Models, but also as a contribution to the Global Carbon Project, a cooperation between the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme, International Human Dimensions Programme and the World Climate Research Programme to aid understanding of global carbon cycling. The service will feature estimation of global burned area, the fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fAPAR), leaf area index (LAI) and Vegetation Growth Cycle. The demonstrator will focus on ten complete years, from 1998 to 2007 when overlap exists between ESA Earth Observation sensors and others that are synergistic. However, the system will be flexible so that it is not dependent on any single satellite sensor and therefore can be retrospectively applied to existing archives and used with future satellite sensors.

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