The service is focused on the generation of various global estimates of aspects of terrestrial vegetation: the number, location and area of fire-affected land, known as Burnt Area Estimates (BAE), the area of green leaf exposed to incoming sunlight for photosynthesis, known as Leaf Area Index (LAI), the sunlight actually absorbed for photosynthesis, known as the Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (fAPAR) and the Vegetation Growth Cycle (VGC).
To obtain these products, GLOBCARBON blends data from a total of five European satellite sensors: the VEGETATION instruments on SPOT-4 and SPOT-5, the Along Track Scanning Radiometer-2 (ATSR-2) on ERS-2, plus the Advanced Along Track Radiometer (AATSR) and Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) on Envisat.
At a 17 January GLOBCARBON progress meeting that took place at ESRIN, ESA's European Centre for Earth Observation, project partners and end-users heard that products for six complete years are now available, covering the whole of 1998 to 2003. A follow-on phase is planned to cover up to the end of 2007.
"GLOBCARBON is a multi-sensor, multi-year global service, and as such has been very challenging in scope," stated Geert Borstlap of VITO, the Belgium-based organisation leading the contract for ESA. "In processing terms we had about 45 terabytes of input data and 18 terabytes of output data, and within the process generated about one petabyte of intermediate data. We developed the necessary software and had about 25 computers and 25 terabytes of disks continuously running for one year from start to finish."