The MetOp programme is Europe’s most powerful tool for weather forecasting and climate and environmental research. The data from these two polar-orbiting satellites is redistributed to hundreds of users around the world within less than two hours of the measurements being taken, for example during Hurricane Sandy (pictured). In addition to meteorological findings, the two search and rescue instruments onboard Astrium’s MetOp-A delivered over 2,600 distress signals to the global Cospas-Sarsat system, leading to the rescue of over 10,000 people.
Recently an international team of scientists using new measurements from ESA’s CryoSat mission discovered that the volume of Arctic sea ice has declined by 36% during autumn and 9% during winter between 2003 and 2012. The Astrium-developed CryoSat has been observing the thickness of sea ice floating in the polar oceans and variations in the ice cover of Greenland and Antarctica since 2010. Changes in the ice not only affect ocean currents and climate, but also the food chain, and may lead to food security problems in local communities.