EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Metrology for Climate Sciences: The European Metrology Network for Climate and Ocean Observation

Emma Woolliams1, Paola Fisicaro2, Nigel Fox1, Céline Pascale3, Steffen Seitz4, Christian Monte5, Olav Werhahn4, David Gorman6, Miruna Dobre7, and Thomas Damitz8
Emma Woolliams et al.
  • 1National Physical Laboratory NPL, Teddington, United Kingdom (
  • 2Laboratoire national de métrologie et d’essais LNE, Paris, France (
  • 3Federal Institute of Metrology METAS, Bern, Switzerland (
  • 4Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt PTB, Braunschweig, Germany (
  • 5Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt PTB, Berlin, Germany (
  • 6National Physical Laboratory NPL, Huddersfield, United Kingdom (
  • 7FOD Economie, Brussels, Belgium (
  • 8European Association of National Metrology Institutes EURAMET, Braunschweig, Germany (

Environmental observations of essential climate variables (ECVs) and related quantities made by satellites and in situ observational networks are used for a wide range of societal applications. To identify a small climate trend from an observational record that is also sensitive to changes in weather, to seasonal effects and to geophysical processes, it is essential that observations have a stable basis that holds for multiple decades, whilst still allowing for changes in the observation instrumentation and operational procedures. To achieve this, all aspects of data collection and handling must be underpinned by robust quality assurance. The resultant data should also be linked to a common reference, with well-understood uncertainty analysis, so that observations are interoperable and coherent; in other words, measurements by different organisations, different instruments and different techniques should be able to be meaningfully combined and compared.    

Metrology, the science of measurement, can provide a critical role in enabling robust, interoperable and stable observational records and can aid users in judging the fitness-for-purpose of such records. In addition to Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) monitoring principles, metrology’s value, and the role of National Metrology Institutes (NMI) in observations, has been recognised in initiatives such as the Quality Assurance Framework for Earth Observation (QA4EO) established by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and in the implementation plans of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO’s), Global Atmosphere Watch and the European Ocean Observing System.  

The European Association for National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET) has recently created the “European Metrology Network (EMN) for Climate and Ocean Observation” to support further engagement of the expert communities with metrologists at national metrology insitutes and to encourage Europe’s metrologists to coordinate their research in response to community needs. The EMN has a scope that covers metrological support for in situ and remote sensing observations of atmosphere, land and ocean ECVs (and related parameters) for climate applications. It also covers the additional economic and ecological applications of ocean Essential Ocean Variable (EOV) observations. It is the European contribution to a global effort to further enhance metrological best practice into such observations through targeted research efforts.  

In late 2019 and early 2020 the EMN carried out a survey to identify the need for metrology within the observational communities and held a webinar workshop to prioritise the identified needs. Here we present the results of the survey and discuss the role that metrology can play in the climate observing system of the future. 

How to cite: Woolliams, E., Fisicaro, P., Fox, N., Pascale, C., Seitz, S., Monte, C., Werhahn, O., Gorman, D., Dobre, M., and Damitz, T.: Metrology for Climate Sciences: The European Metrology Network for Climate and Ocean Observation , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21628,, 2020


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  • AC1: Comment on EGU2020-21628, Emma Woolliams, 02 May 2020

    Hello. As Chair of the European Metrology Network for Climate and Ocean Observation I am very interested in (a) what you might know/not know about metrology as the discipline of measurement, and maintaining the SI unit, (b) whether you have aleady engaged with the metrology community and (c) which ways you think the formal metrology community (at national metrology institutes and associated organisations) can support the quality assurance of instruments, observations from instruments and the ECV products that are derived from those observations.

  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-21628, Rachel Killick, 05 May 2020

    Hi Emma, Thanks for your presentation - very interesting - I was in the session and have read through it again now. I know if metrology, but personally am on the receiving end of data, not the collecting end, do you have any tips on best practice for those of us who maintain datasets from diverse sources? Also, I note that in your 'Likely EMN priorities' slide 'uncertainty analysis for in situ and on site observations' is there for atmosphere, but not for the ocean, would you be able to explain why? Is it because you have the target of working directly with existing ocean networks themselves? Many thanks! Rachel Killick, Met Office, UK

    • AC3: Reply to CC1, Olav Werhahn, 07 May 2020

      Dear Rachel,

      Sorry, I intended to reply to your comment on Emma's talk.  But actually, I made it as another comment to Emma's presentation.

      So, could you approach my comment (the second one to Emma's presentation) to get my answer to your comment?

      Kind regards,


  • AC2: Comment on EGU2020-21628, Olav Werhahn, 07 May 2020

    Hi Rachel,

    As being coauthor of Emma's presentation and part of PTB's team in the EMN for Climate and Ocean Observation, I'd like to respond to your comment - advancing and/or complementing a direct reply from Emma herself.

    As you can derive from my presentation in the same session (normally supposed to be presented directly after Emma's) we have in all three sections of the EMN, that means also for the 'Ocean' uncertainty assessments as comming as a central tool in metrology itself on the agenda of the EMN.

    If you were especially interested in the 'Ocean' I could refer you to my colleague, Steffen Seitz (coauthor of my presentation and that of Emma's). He is taking care for ocean-related questions at PTB and has a very good command in interactions with the ocean stakeholder community.

    If you like, simply drop an email to Steffen with all the questions you may have, and even more important for the EMN, with all the proposals and needs you have (

    Thanks for your comment and don't hesitate to ask me, Emma, or anyone of us in future!

    Kind regards,


    • CC2: Reply to AC2, Rachel Killick, 26 May 2020

      Thanks Olav,

      Apologies for my dealy in replying, your response was very helpful and I'll get in touch with Steffen too.

      Many thanks,