National Information System for Climate & Environment Studies (NICES)
Climate change is amongst the most concerning issues being discussed across the world to preserve the planet earth. The 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported an estimated increase of 0.74°C in global mean temperatures from 1906 to 2005. Other studies have indicated that there is a steady increase in the concentration of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) such as CO, CO2, CH4, NO2, etc. in earth's atmosphere. The human impact on climate during this era greatly exceeds that due to known changes in natural processes, such as in solar radiation and volcanic eruptions. Increasing atmospheric concentration of GHGs due to burning of fossil fuels are strong agents in alterations of our climate. Certain fundamental changes are also evident in terms of decline in stratospheric ozone content, acid precipitation, melting of polar ice cover, shift in natural vegetations, manifestations of extreme weather conditions, etc. Impact of climatic changes is already being felt in the Indian sub-continent in terms of the behavior of tropical cyclone, frequent flooding, drought and desertification, sea level rise, soil erosion, landslides, rise in vector borne diseases and increase in snow and glacier melting.

In this context, issues related to natural environment and climate change need understanding of physical, chemical and biological processes that regulate the total Earth System, the changes that are occurring in the system, and the manner in which they are influenced by the natural forces and human activities. ISRO, with its geostationary and polar orbiting satellites, has been active in climate research with a focus on specific indicators, like, glacier melt, desertification, land use and land cover change and agents, like, GHGs, aerosols, etc. The Department has drawn a comprehensive EO program for providing continuity envisaging new observational capabilities in the domain of land, ocean, environment and atmosphere. ISRO/DOS has also developed various ground based observation systems for measuring climate variables as part of ISRO-GBP, ASP, Space Science Programme and research activities at PRL, SPL, NARL etc.

Realising the need, ISRO formulated the National Information System for Climate and Environment Studies (NICES) with the mandate to build an information base for climate change impact assessment and mitigation under the guidance of NICES Programme Management Council (NICES-PMC) with representatives from inter and intra-departmental institutions. NICES-PMC will formulate a science plan for climate research and environment studies and will constitute inter-departmental thematic groups addressing the algorithm developmental needs, reprocessing, process modeling and simulation scenarios and data compilation and standardization of formats to comply with the GCMs and RCMs. Thus, NICES will build an archive for climate and environmental data with a provision for access and visualization for various ministries, academia and research institutions in the country though a NICES portal.

NICES will establish a dedicated Information System for Climate and Environment Studies at national level using Indian Remote Sensing and geostationary satellites data and others. Additionally, NICES will build specific observational networks, effectively coordinate among various departments and carry out climate and environmental impact assessment through formulation of a science plan. NICES is intended to generate climate and environmental data archives with a provision for access and visualization to various ministries, academia and research institutions in the country. NICES will work towards developing intra and inter departmental linkages and collaboration for information and knowledge sharing in the area of climate & environment studies, and extend policy level support. NICES would have the following specific objectives:

  • Geophysical parameter retrieval and generation of methodologies for Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) from Indian EO missions.
  • Acquisition and processing of international missions data for other relevant parameters to support Indian EO ECVs and cal/val and generation of long term data records
  • Establish necessary infrastructure including hardware and software for NICES.
  • Establishment of NICES portal.
  • Development of methodologies to carry out scientific studies and partner with other national organisations in using ECV for impact assessment, adaptation, vulnerability and mitigation etc.
  • Generation of spatial & temporal blended ECV products based on Indian and foreign satellites and in situ observations through multi-institutional participation.
  • Develop outreach and interaction mechanism for effective dissemination and utilization of NICES ECVs.
  • Promote scientific utilization and collaboration in the area of climate and environment.
  • Establishment and development of linkages with appropriate observational networks, and calibration & validation sites.