Copernicus Climate Change Service

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The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) is one of the six thematic services provided by the European Union's Copernicus Programme. The Copernicus Programme is managed by the European Commission and the C3S is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and is expected to become operational in 2018.

The objective of the Copernicus Climate Change Service is to build an EU knowledge base in support of mitigation and adaptation policies for Climate Change and Global Warming. The goal of the operational Climate Change service is to provide reliable information about the current and past state of the climate, the forecasts on a seasonal time scale, and the more likely projections in the coming decades for various scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions and other Climate Change contributors.


The C3S shall capitalize on four main components:

These components will allow the service to derive a number of climate indicators (e.g. temperature increase, sea level rise, ice sheet melting, warming of the ocean...) and climate indices (e.g. based on records of temperature, precipitation, drought event) for both the identified climate drivers and the expected climate impacts.


The architecture of the C3S is organized around four complementary building blocks: A consistent Climate Data Store (CDS), a Sectoral Information System (SIS), an Evaluation and Quality Control (EQC) function, and an Outreach and Dissemination (O&D) platform.

  1. The first building block of the C3S is a consistent Climate Data Store (CDS) that contains series of geophysical climate variables and indicators, most being listed as Essential Climate Variables or Thematic Climate Data Records, needed to routinely monitor the climate drivers and climate change impacts. The CDS will also include series of derived Climate Change Indicators. All data and products available from the CDS must be spatially and temporally consistent, traceable, and with documented uncertainties.[1]
  2. The second building block of the Climate Change service is a Sectoral Information System (SIS) that contains information tailored to fit the needs of end users and customers of the service for various EU sectoral policies or other Societal Benefit Areas (SBAs). It will be sustained primarily by the CDS and, where appropriate, by ancillary data sets that will prove useful when addressing, for instance, climate impacts at regional, or even local, time and space resolutions in various policy sectors.
  3. The third block is the Evaluation Quality Control (EQC) function in charge of the quality control and evaluation of the C3S. The EQC function comprises a component to assess the technical performance and scientific quality of the products in particular with regard to users' information needs and requirements. The EQC function will also be the natural vector for bridging the operational segments of the service with its research and development components.
  4. The fourth block is dedicated to Outreach and Dissemination (O&D) activities to ensure the dissemination of the climate related information, both from the Climate Data Store and the Sectoral Information System, to the end users, including e.g., public authorities, businesses, researchers and the general public as appropriate.

This architecture is complemented by a Fitness-for-Purpose (F4P) function external to ECMWF to evaluate the overall performance of the service with particular attention given to satisfy the needs of EU policies. The F4P component initiates independent evaluation activities in coordination with the EQC function of the C3S and makes ample use of expert consultations.


Four different stages were identified to favour a proper ramping up of the service and its gradual evolution over the duration of the programme. The various blocks will progressively cope with an increasing number of products and deliverables in the following four complementary stages (starting in 2015):

  1. The first stage (from year 0 to year 2) will be dedicated to a proof of concept of the overall architecture envisaged so far. This preliminary step will help to consolidate the links between various contributing partners, to fine tune their perimeters of actions and to ensure a seamless flow of information.
  2. The second stage (from year 2 to year 3) will be pre-operational. It thus constitutes the first test to generate the requested information on an operational basis that is with proven and extensive tests of the ensemble of operational procedures prevailing inside each of the building blocks and between them as well.
  3. The third stage (from year 3 to year 4) is associated with the start of the operational phase where products will become available to the public. This phase will include a selected set of about 20 ECVs and 7 Climate indicators pertaining to the atmosphere, the ocean and the land compartments. These quantities will provide support to 8 different Societal Benefit Areas through the production of approximately 18 indices.
  4. The fourth stage (from year 4 onwards) will essentially correspond to an increase in the generated amount of information such that, by the end of the funding period, the C3S shall be in a position to document 30 plus ECVs and over 10 Climate indicators that will be of direct relevance to a dozen of the Societal Benefit Areas.


2015 Copernicus Work Programme adopted by Commission Implementing Decision C(2015) 767 final of 17.02.2015 [1]

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