14 Apr

CCI Greenland and Antarctica

  • Scientific Data Processing


The ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are showing rapid changes, such as thinning along the margins, accelerating outlet glaciers and increasing mass loss. Development of improved systems and data sets for monitoring these changes and assessing their impact is of high priority. The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched a wide-scale monitoring programme for all the prioritized essential climate variables, called the Climate Change Initiative (CCI). Within this programme both the Greenland and the Antarctic Ice sheets are defined as priority climate variables. 

To support the scientific research, and subsequent policy decisions, required to assess the changes and their impact, geophysical datasets with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution are necessary. These datasets should be available in a convenient format and accessibility. These are the goals of the CCI programme.

Technology used 

To maximize the use and impact of ESA satellite data on climate research, the CCI programme supports development of a set of data processing systems providing long time series datasets, easily accessible through a set of dedicated web portals. A variety of ESA mission data sources are utilized, along with the most recent scientific research algorithms, to process and analyze the changes observed on the ice sheet. The data sources include radar altimetry data, synthetic aperture radar data, satellite imagery and gravimetric data sets.


S[&]T are a partner in two CCI ice sheets projects; one led by the Danish Technical University to monitor the Greenland ice sheet, and one led by the University of Leeds to monitor the Antarctic ice sheet. S[&]T provides system engineering support for the definition and setup of large-scale processing systems to provide long time series data products for the vast land areas Greenland and Antarctica. Furthermore, S[&]T develops a data processor extracting ice velocity vector information from satellite imagery. Our scientific partners provide the remaining processing algorithms and functions for assessing the surface elevation change, the ice velocity, the calving front location and the grounding line location, all of which correlates with generating the overall ice mass balance of the ice sheets.