Minimize Copernicus Services

Services provided by the EU Copernicus Program

Copernicus is the European system for monitoring the Earth and is coordinated and managed by the EC (European Commission). The development of the observation infrastructure is performed under the aegis of ESA (European Space Agency) for the space component and by the EEA (European Environment Agency) and EU (European Union) countries for the in situ component. 1)

It consists of a complex set of systems which collect data from multiple sources: earth observation satellites and in situ sensors such as ground stations, airborne sensors, and sea-borne sensors. It processes this data and provides users with reliable and up-to-date information through a set of services related to environmental and security issues.

The services address six thematic areas: land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management, and security. They support a wide range of applications, including environment protection, management of urban areas, regional and local planning, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, health, transport, climate change, sustainable development, civil protection, and tourism. 2) 3)

1) CLMS (Copernicus Land Monitoring Service) provides access to up-to-date information on land-use and land-cover products and on related variables, such as the vegetation state or the water cycle. It operates at global, pan-European, and local levels. 4)

2) CAMS (Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service) provides continuous data and information on atmospheric composition. The service describes the current situation, forecasts the situation a few days ahead, and analyses consistently retrospective data records for recent years.5)

3) CMENS (Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service) is the one-stop-shop for marine data It provides state-of-the-art analyses and forecasts daily, which offer an unprecedented capability to observe, understand and anticipate marine environment events. 6)

4) EMS (Emergency Management Service) supports players in the field of crisis management. It addresses disasters caused by natural hazards as well as man-made hazards and humanitarian crisis. Only authorized users can trigger the service, but everybody can assess maps. 7)

5) C3S (Copernicus Climate Change Service) provides high quality data and graphics to assist business, science and policy sectors to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. 8)

6) Security. The Copernicus service for Security applications aims to support European Union policies by providing information in response to Europe's security challenges. It improves crisis prevention, preparedness and response in the areas of border surveillance, maritime surveillance and support to EU external action. Access to the service is limited.

This file on the eoPortal is a loose collection of articles provided by the EU Copernicus Program - started in 2017. The short descriptions in the following entries are presented in reverse order.



Ocean State Report: the first step in the development of regular annual reporting

June 2, 2017: The CMENS (Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service) is dedicated to observing and forecasting our oceans and seas. CMEMS products were used to develop the first Ocean State Report, the first step in the development of regular annual reporting on the state and health of the global ocean and European regional seas. 9)

The principal findings of the report focus on the fundamental role of the oceans in the Earth's climate system. They include anomalous changes for the year 2015 relative to the reference period 1993-2014, for parameters such as ocean temperature and salinity, sea level, ocean heat content, sea-ice extent, chlorophyll concentration and oxygen content. It also reveals a number of trends, including decreasing Arctic and increasing Antarctic sea-ice extent, global and regional sea-level rise, sea-surface temperature rise and the warming of the global and European regional seas.

The report, written by 80 scientific experts from more than 25 European institutions, provides a comprehensive and state-of-the-art assessment of the state of the global ocean and is a key source of insight for the ocean scientific community, policy and decision-makers and the general public.

The sustainable management and preservation of the marine environment is a long-standing priority for the European Union. The EU has started a number of initiatives in this area, including CMENS (Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service), which is dedicated to observing and forecasting our oceans and seas. CMEMS products were used to develop the first Ocean State Report, the first step in the development of regular annual reporting on the state and health of the global ocean and European regional seas. Policy makers, institutions, conventions and environmental agencies need reliable scientific information about the marine environment as a basis for their recommendations and decisions.

The Ocean State Report series will serve as such a reference for decision-makers and scientific communities around the world. The Report will also be of interest to the general public – educators, media and citizens – to raise awareness of the state of our oceans and seas.

According to Pierre Bahurel, Director General of Mercator Ocean:"The development of this Ocean State Report was one of the key objectives of this first phase of the CMEMS implementation. It is the first in a long series as yearly releases are now envisaged. It has been designed as an EU reference report intended to provide input for the activities of the EU and Member-State policy makers, environmental agencies, Regional Sea Conventions and international organizations."

The report draws on expert analysis and provides a 4-D view (reanalysis systems), both from above (through remote-sensing data) and directly from within (in situ measurements) the blue (e.g. hydrography, currents), white (e.g. sea ice) and green (e.g. chlorophyll) global ocean and European regional seas. This first issue provides information on the physical ocean state and the changes that have occurred over the period 1993–2015.

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Figure 1: CMENS 1993-2015 decadal trends (image credits: EU Copernicus Marine Service)

The main findings of the Ocean State Report focus on the fundamental role of the oceans in the Earth's climate system. They include anomalous changes for the year 2015 relative to the reference period 1993-2014, for parameters such as ocean temperature and salinity, sea level, ocean heat, sea-ice extent, chlorophyll concentration and oxygen content. It also reveals a number of trends, including decreasing Arctic and increasing Antarctic sea-ice extent, global and regional sea-level rise, sea-surface temperature rise and the warming of the global and European regional seas.

The monitoring of ECVs (Essential Climate Variables) in the Ocean State Report is a robust information reference based on the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service physical and biogeochemical product repository over the last three decades aiming to respond to the need for faster and better-coordinated information on changes in the marine environment. ECVs are physical, chemical or biological variables that critically contribute to the characterization of the Earth's climate and the oceans. This concept is broadly adopted in science and policy circles. They include:

• Sea-Surface Temperature: SST has increased by 0.4°C globally and by more than 1°C in European regional seas.

• Sub-surface Temperature: warming of the upper and deep global ocean and European regional seas occurred at rates of up to 0.05°C per year over the last three decades.

• Surface and Sub-surface Salinity: anomalously high and low salinity waters dominated in the upper ocean in 2015, and are linked to climate models and ocean circulation. The 3-decadal trends confirm the link to changes in the Earth's water cycle.

• Sea Level: sea level rose at mean rates of 2.6 to 3.3 mm/year since 1993 and up to 3 times faster at regional levels. In 2015, the Baltic Sea experienced anomalously high sea levels, while they were anomalously low in other European regional seas.

• Chlorophyll: in 2015, regional responses to climate variability (e.g. El Niño) and changes in hydrographic ocean conditions led to significant surface chlorophyll changes.

• Currents: Tropical Pacific surface currents were affected by El Niño in 2015. Since 1993, the western boundary current systems in the northern hemisphere have experienced interannual to decadal regime shifts.

• Sea Ice: one of the lowest Arctic summer sea-ice extents over the past 20 years is reported. A decline of up to 16% of Arctic sea-ice extent has been found since 1993, while there is a significant increase in Antarctic sea-ice extent.

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Figure 2: CMENS changes in 2015 (image credit: EU Copernicus Marine Service)

The Ocean State Report also provides information about large-scale changes in the ocean heat content, ocean mass and heat transport, Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and mesoscale activity. It includes an in-depth overview of the European regional seas and specific events such as El Niño, North Atlantic cooling event, harmful algae blooms in the Baltic sea, and extreme sea-level events.

The EC (European Commission) and CMEMS will present the Ocean State Report at a side event of the Ocean Conference of the United Nations on World Oceans Day on 8 June 2017, followed by a roundtable discussion of some of the world's leading oceanographers.

Link to Ocean State Report summary.

Link to the full Ocean State Report.



DIAS (Data and Information Access Services)

May 26, 2017: The EC (European Commission) has launched an initiative to develop Copernicus DIAS (Data and Information Access Services) that facilitate access to Copernicus data and information from the Copernicus services. By providing data and information access alongside processing resources, tools and other relevant data, this initiative is expected to boost user uptake, stimulate innovation and the creation of new business models based on Earth Observation data and information. 10)

In response to the requirements laid down by the EC and approved by Participating Countries, ESA has launched a call for services to establish the DIAS with the aim to deploy operational access platforms in early 2018. In parallel, EUMETSAT are building up a DIAS in a stepwise approach and aim at first functionalities to be available in the same timeframe.

Copernicus is a flagship space program of the European Union. Through the Copernicus Services it offers full, free and open access to data, models and forecasts related to the monitoring of our environment. It also makes satellite data from the Sentinel constellation available on a free full and open basis. Copernicus is an operational program that, beyond its benefits for the environment, also provides important contributions to emergency and security services in Europe. For obvious reasons, access to some of this information is restricted.

When all Sentinel satellites are operational (Sentinel-1A and 1B, Sentinel-2A, and Sentinel-3A are at the time of writing), they will deliver in excess of 10 petabytes (10 x 1015 bytes) of data each year. Information from the Copernicus services, derived from the Sentinels, other satellite data as well as information from the Copernicus in situ component, add to the total amount of geospatial data generated or made available by the Copernicus program. This makes Copernicus the third largest data provider in the world, creating great opportunities, but also presenting great challenges. The European Commission has ambitious plans to tackle these challenges in a big data enabled environment, and for that purpose, has decided to launch the Copernicus DIAS – Data and Information Access Services. The DIAS will kick start the development of a European data access and cloud processing service, open for entrepreneurs, developers and the general public to build and exploit their Copernicus-based services.

Copernicus data and information is for the most part full, free and open. By mandate of the European Commission their production and distribution is ensured by selected institutions across Europe, the so-called Entrusted Entities (EE).

Sentinel satellite data are distributed by ESA (European Space Agency) and EUMETSAT (European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites). There are several access mechanisms to the Sentinel data, tailored to the purpose they will be used for. Both ESA and EUMETSAT operate data access 'hubs' for on-demand, open access to Sentinel data. In addition, EUMETSAT operates EUMETCAST, a service that systematically pushes satellite data and other information to subscribed users via either terrestrial data lines or, for areas of the world with limited Internet connectivity, via satellite link. A few other data distribution mechanisms exist and are tailored to serve specific and restricted user groups such as the Copernicus Services.

Copernicus service data and information can be accessed through dedicated access portals set up by the EE for each Copernicus service. Like the ESA and EUMETSAT portals they each require a dedicated login.

National access mechanisms for Copernicus data exist in some European Countries. They are called Collaborative Ground Segments and focus on the distribution of data and information, sometimes not only from Copernicus, that is of particular usefulness to national users. Some of these facilities do or plan to offer hosted processing services close to the data. Often they offer a user interface in the national language. However, most of these Collaborative Ground Segments currently only allow download or, in some rare cases, exploitation of the information accessed through a WMS (Web Mapping Service). Anyone wanting to further process the data will have to compute and visualize the data with software on their own computer.

No cloud processing service is currently offered by Copernicus to its users. However, some commercial initiatives have emerged and offer the processing of some Sentinel satellite data in the cloud.

In addition and outside the strict Copernicus context ESA through its own programs supports the development of TEPs (Thematic Exploitation Platforms). These TEPs are using a broad range of EO data, including Copernicus, and allow the processing of (not only) satellite data for specific themes like forest monitoring or polar applications.

The European Commission has identified a widely shared need to access the Copernicus data and information close to processing facilities that allow further value extraction from the data. As this need is shared across Europe and in order to avoid duplication of data storage activities across Europe, the EC has identified the opportunity to federate this common need and respond through a dedicated service approach that is complementary to the traditional data download. This service approach, the DIAS, will offer access to Copernicus data and information close to processing facilities and, through this, create the possibility to easily build applications and offer added-value services.

In order to foster the competition and the development of creative solutions, the EC has decided that, there would be a minimum of three different DIAS, operated by different consortia. The main DIAS components are the back-office infrastructure and the DIAS interface services through which the user-established front office components can be connected to the back office infrastructure. The DIAS-provided back office is the scalable computing environment in which users can build and operate their own services based on Copernicus. The back-office will give unlimited, free and complete access to Copernicus data and information, and any other data that may be offered by the DIAS provider. The DIAS interface services encompass tools and services that will make it easy for the users to create their own applications. The environment should offer scalable computing and storage resources to the users at competitive commercial conditions. Finally, the providers of the DIAS will provide support to users, and making sure their access to the DIAS data runs smoothly.

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Figure 3: Illustration of DIAS elements and service spectrum (image credit: EC)

Small and large companies, entrepreneurs and developers will then be able to create their own front offices and engage with each other to build flexible value chains based on the DIAS computing and storage resources at a competitive cost. They will be able to develop their own applications based on the free Copernicus data, and any other data made available through the system.

Scalable computing and storage resources have been shown to lower the barriers to entry for companies to build applications and services. Moreover, because the DIAS back office will be complemented by the DIAS interface services that are created with the purpose of handling Copernicus data, the tools it offers together with complementary commercial offers that will emerge as part of the front office environment will make it easier for all users, including the ones without expertise in Earth Observation or Copernicus services, to fully take advantage of the wealth of information Copernicus makes available.

In the future, users will thus have full and free access to Copernicus data and services through the DIAS, and will, at commercial conditions to be determined by the DIAS providers, be able to process the data and information to create services for their end users. This offering will complement existing portals that may consider installing their offering as a dedicated front office and take advantage of the DIAS themselves.

In summary, through its scalability, its additional layer of cloud processing, tools and complementary data the DIAS concept will boost the development of applications and services based on Copernicus to facilitate the integration of satellite data and information into services that benefit all levels of society. Competition amongst DIAS providers will stimulate innovation and avoid lock-in situations for the Commission and for users alike.

A significant number of consortia have recently submitted their proposals for the ESA-led DIAS, thus demonstrating the interest that stakeholders, and in particular industry, have in the ground-breaking and game changing concepts underlying the DIAS initiative.

The results of this competition should be announced during the summer and the providers retained should declare their DIAS "open for service" in the course of the first half of 2018.



A New Phase for the Copernicus Global Land Service!

May 11, 2017: The Copernicus Global Land Service (CGLS) is one of the components of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service. Since 2013 it has been providing bio-geophysical variables on the status and evolution of land surface in near real time. In the late 2016, the CGLS entered an exciting second operational phase with even more to offer to its existing and potential users. 11)

The CGLS (Copernicus Global Land Service) is a component of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service that provides a set of bio-geophysical information products describing the status and evolution of the land surface on a global scale, and in near to real time.

The products are used to monitor vegetation, the water cycle and the energy budget. In addition, they are key inputs for a wide range of land applications related to agriculture, environment monitoring and climate change. — The Initial Operations phase of the Copernicus Global Land component came to an end in the first half of 2016.

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Figure 4: The global user community grows at a gradually increasing pace from the beginning of the service (image credit: Copernicus Global Land Service)

Initial Operations phase (2013- early 2016): A bright end

In early 2013, when Copernicus was still referred to as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), the Global Land component started its "Initial Operations". Thanks to three years of research and development, it has now matured into a fully operational service. The CGLS has developed a portfolio of 13 products (e.g. Leaf Area index, Land Surface Temperature, Water Bodies) based on observations from the VEGETATION instruments aboard SPOT satellites, the MetOp-ASCAT instrument in low-Earth orbit and a number of sensors from meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit.

In 2016, new Copernicus Global Land Service products at medium spatial resolution (300 m) derived from PROBA-V data were made publicly available. Three additional products with 300 m resolution are scheduled to follow in 2017. These products help to close the gap with the pan-European Copernicus Land Monitoring Service which traditionally relies on high, and very high resolution sensors.

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Figure 5: Examples of 300 m resolution products: upcoming LAI (Leaf Area Index) product on the left and already available products on the right - NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and Burnt Area (image credit: Copernicus Global Land Service)

The product distribution platform incorporates the initial two viewing services : one for visualizing full-resolution maps and another for analyzing multi-year time series per administrative region and land-cover class (as seen in the image below). A new web interface for on-the-fly delivery of customized products has recently been incorporated.

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Figure 6: Example 1 from full-resolution viewing services (image credit: Copernicus Global Land Service)

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Figure 7: Example 2 time series viewing services (image credit: Copernicus Global Land Service)

New phase (late 2016-2019): More products and operational use of Sentinel data

During this second phase, the Copernicus Global Land Service will increase the number of products related to biophysical variables it delivers with a global coverage (see potential variables below). It will add a thematic area on terrestrial cryosphere (e.g. snow extent, lake ice cover) as well as new products into the existing vegetation, water and energy segments.

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Figure 8: Overview of the variables in the existing portfolio (13) and the new phase (29), image credit: CGLS

The Copernicus Global Land component will begin taking full advantage of the Sentinel data during this second phase, and will systematically integrate such data into operational products. The image below shows an example of the retrieval of SSM (Surface Soil Moisture) data by Sentinel-1A which will be combined with the existing SSM data retrieved by MetOp-ASCAT into the Soil Water Index product. Preparations for the uptake of Sentinels-2 and -3 data have also started.

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Figure 9: Surface Soil Moisture (SSM) from Sentinel-1 over Austria released on September 20th 2015 (image credit: CGLS)

Legend to Figure 9: The red lines in the image show the boundaries of the various Bundesländer in the eastern region of Austria.

With new service components dealing with Hot Spot mapping, the collection of ground-based (in situ) observations, as well as the development of Analysis-Ready Data based on Sentinel-2, the Copernicus Global Land Service will undoubtedly open up a new array of diversified services.



EUGENIUS (European Group of Enterprises for a Network of Information using Space)

May 5, 2017: The Copernicus program provides great opportunities for the development of new, innovative and efficient local geo-information services thanks to full, free and open data from a range of sensors aboard the Sentinel satellites, and the possibility to merge data from a variety of complementary sources. 12)

Geo-information services based on satellite data can support local public authorities and private actors to more efficiently carry out operational activities such as urban planning, environmental monitoring (water, air, and soil conditions), disaster management and mitigation, and many others.

While Copernicus makes available the raw materials for the development of such services, it is up to local operators to understand the final users' needs, to access locally available in situ data if required, and to ensure that the appropriate quality of services is maintained. These tasks call for a wider range of tools and expertise than most individual enterprises have access to.

Recognizing this need, a group of European SMEs founded the European Group of Enterprises for a Network of Information using Space (EUGENIUS) in 2016. This network of EO service providers has the ambition to jointly design, create and deliver services and applications related to natural resource management for regional and local customers, primarily public authorities. The applications will be based on the very large quantity of geospatial information made available by the Copernicus program, as well as through numerous local and regional initiatives.

In this context, I am proud of how EUGENIUS is able to provide cost-effectiveness for local users by sharing data on European regions, including authoritative in situ, crowd-sourced and EO data and using tools and applications tried and tested throughout Europe. Long-term sustainability of the services is ensured through the building of local customer relationships, whilst adaptability to specific needs or conditions is made possible by the network of experts.

EUGENIUS, which is open to the inclusion of new members, is both a beneficiary of the Copernicus program, and a contributor to its evolving downstream services ecosystem.


1) "Copernicus - The European Earth Observation Program," 2017, URL:

2) "Copernicus Brochure," URL:


4) "Land Monitoring Service," URL:

5) "Atmosphere Monitoring Service," URL:

6) "Marine Environment Monitoring Service," URL:

7) "Emergency Management Service," URL:

8) "Climate Change Service," URL:

9) "Ocean State Report," Copernicus, 02 June 2017, URL:

10) "The upcoming Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS)," Copernicus Data Access, 26 May 2017, "URL:

11) "Copernicus Land Monitoring Service," Copernicus Observer, 11 May 2017, EU Commission, URL:

12) Marc Tondriaux, "An industrial perspective on Copernicus — EUGENIUS: A new association of EO service providers in Europe using Copernicus data," EUGENIUS, 5 May 2017, URL:

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (