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  • Copernicus evolution –a gap analysis to prepare future activities for Copernicus data and information validation and quality enhancement

The main purpose of this action is to devise a sustainable and cost effective Copernicus products validation framework capable of meeting present and future requirements for data and information validation and quality enhancement delivered by Copernicus services and Space Component.

The proposal should take into account the on-going activities in the Copernicus in-situ component with the European Environmental Agency (EEA) as the Entity entrusted by the European Commission to coordinate and develop this fundamental Copernicus component[[]].

The scope of this call encompasses the following steps:

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  • Establish a complete inventory of the current and foreseen (when possible) use of in-situ data by the entities entrusted with the production and distribution of Copernicus data and information with a clear identification of the available and accessible in-situ and research data sources in Europe (at national, European or international level) and in the current and future non-European partner countries for Copernicus (US, Australia, South America, Africa, India).
  • Perform a gap analysis mapping the Copernicus needs versus the in-situ observations for the following activities:
    • sensor calibration (including vicarious calibration), algorithm calibration and products validation (mainly level 2 data) for the Copernicus space component, Sentinel and essential missions[[Essential missions are the ones with a well-known and demonstrated involvement in the services production chains: the actual involvement should be demonstrated in the proposal.]], present and future;
    • products validation for the Copernicus Services;
    • cross-cutting multi purposes products validation, not tailored on specific service or component.
  • Gaps shall be characterised as a minimum by identifying:
    • Missing data (completely or partially);
    • Data accuracy and uncertainty;
    • Procedural issues (such as delivery delay, obsolescence of the infrastructure, lower quality of data, automatic processing, standardization and coordination with Copernicus services).
  • For the identified in-situ infrastructures the following points should be analysed to help reveal any existing gaps:
    • the maturity level and missing steps to become operational for Copernicus (e.g. new design, pure research, pre-operational ….) and the priorities due to their impact on Copernicus;
    • the sustainability of the existing observations, update of observing infrastructure to cover missed parameters and improve the accuracy of the measurements and the IT specific needs e.g. connection to get the data, tools to exploit and process them, distributing data and products taking into account the already existing activities or projects like EOSC, HPC, GEANT and DIAS;
    • Related ongoing projects (H2020, ESA, JRC, EEA…) and their respective budget(s) when available.
  • Propose a priority list of elements to be addressed and a set of related research road-maps that allow addressing the identified gaps. This should include relevant inter-dependencies between research areas, such as:
    • Research into expansion of in-situ networks or improved in-situ data accuracy and quality, formats etc. to sustain and improve the Copernicus data and information veracity and accuracy;
    • Research into potential expansion of Copernicus and Copernicus-derived services building on additional in-situ resources and non-environmental data;
    • To propose a potential evolution of existing infrastructures as a Copernicus interface layer to make the collection of disparate observing networks homogenously available and accessible to the Copernicus users and operators;
    • Propose a detailed roadmap for the implementation of the Copernicus interface layer considering the different starting level: e.g. transition, new research, research to make them operational etc.
  • Proposals are expected to integrate relevant and knowledgeable actors from at least the four core domains covered by this topic:

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  • Copernicus services
  • Copernicus space data providers
  • In-situ national and European (research-) infrastructures
  • European e-infrastructures
  • For proposals under this topic:

    • Participation of industry, in particular SMEs, is encouraged;
    • Involvement of post-graduate scientists, engineers and researchers is also encouraged, for example through professional work experience or through fellowships/scholarships as applicable.

    The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nevertheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

    Copernicus is a European system for monitoring the Earth. Copernicus consists of a complex set of systems which collect data from multiple sources: earth observation <a href="""">satellites</a> and <a href="""">in situ sensors</a> such as ground stations, airborne and sea-borne sensors. The processed data are made available to the users as reliable and up-to-date information through a set of services related to environmental and security issues. The <a href="""">services</a> address six thematic areas: land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security. They support a wide range of <a href="""">applications</a>, including environment protection, management of urban areas, regional and local planning, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, health, transport, climate change, sustainable development, civil protection and tourism.

    A number of in-situ research infrastructures built by national or international programmes provide not only data of national interest, but also essential data for Copernicus. This is particularly true for observations done at global and European regional level. There is a need to develop mechanisms to help giving recognition to those observations by research infrastructures which support operational Copernicus services in meeting their objectives. In particular, in situ networks providing data for calibration and validation activities give a fundamental contribution to the Copernicus Services and the Copernicus Space component. It is therefore mandatory to map the requirements (type of measurements, geophysical parameters acquired, resolution in space and time, data uncertainty and quality, timeliness…) for in situ data and compare it to the existing observation system to find gaps.

    The scope and potential of such contribution expands continually as research infrastructures evolve e.g. as European Research Infrastructures Consortium (ERICs), international partners gradually make their data available and as the relevance of no-space data is increasing in the context of Big Data applications.

    Beyond the content generated by the infrastructures described above, most of them operate a bespoke and thus heterogenic IT infrastructure to collect, compute, store and distribute their data. Harmonisation and evolution initiatives are underway in the form of:

    • the cloud infrastructures (EOSC) providing access to any type of data as well as virtually unlimited data processing and preservation capacity;
    • the supercomputing facilities High Performance Computing (European Union HPC Strategy);
    • the pan-European GÉANT network for scientific excellence, research, education and innovation already use by ESA and EUMETSAT to distribute a large portion of the data provided by the different contributing missions;
    • the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS) that offer access to Copernicus data and information alongside tools, storage and processing offerings.

    At the same time there is also the need for a new, integrated and comprehensive Copernicus in-situ infrastructure which could be designed as an interface layer to make the collection of disparate observing networks (with different goals, methods, and governance) homogenously available to Copernicus users and operators in a cost-effective way.

    The sustainability of in-situ observing systems remains a major concern, particularly at global and European level, and discontinued funding can pose a high risk for Copernicus.

    There is a need to assess the current state of affairs in the areas described above and to propose a roadmap by establishing an inventory and performing an in-depth gap analyses in two main areas:

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  • in-situ data and its use in Copernicus by looking in particular at identified areas where the operational Copernicus data and information provision could be improved;
  • On the basis of the work under 1, and taking into account the already ongoing initiatives in the IT domain, the areas where additional adaptations or additions to the currently implemented IT infrastructures would be needed or beneficial to facilitate the use of the related data within Copernicus.
    • To complete a comprehensive overview of the status of research infrastructures already used by Copernicus;
    • To enable the identified research infrastructures to better respond to Copernicus operational needs;
    • To enable the identify missed in situ observation required to improve the accuracy of the satellite Copernicus products and monitor their quality in operation;
    • Reinforce the cooperation among different Copernicus actors (entrusted entities, space data providers, in-situ data providers and research infrastructures) on the in-situ data network.
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