Key Environmental monitoring for Polar Latitudes and European Readiness
KEPLER is a multi-partner initiative, built around the operational European Ice Services and Copernicus information providers, to prepare a roadmap for Copernicus to deliver an improved European capacity for monitoring and forecasting the Polar Regions. Our motivation is to put the public and stakeholders at the centre of Copernicus. This follows the recommendations of the ‘Copernicus User Uptake’ review, and its 4 themes of: 1) Raising awareness for the Copernicus programme, 2) Informing and educating Copernicus users, 3) Engaging Copernicus users in public and private sector, and 4) Enabling access to Copernicus data and information. These well tailored themes form the core components of KEPLER. However, as the Polar Regions are changing, so too are the challenges and opportunities. Because of these shifts we have included two additional themes that encompass the evolving needs. These are needed to provide opportunities for better understanding the environment, research opportunities, establishing new industry sectors and startups, and importantly empowering citizens: 5) Identification of research gaps regarding integration/assimilation, and 6) Improved sea-ice mapping and forecasting. Through these 6 themes KEPLER aims to release the full potential of Polar Regions Earth Observation, including from ESA and EUMETSAT, by identifying and eliminating the barriers that impede the use of the tremendous resource that is Copernicus. This combines 2 key elements of the call: a) bringing together key European stakeholders and competent entities, and b) growing the Copernicus brand and user-base through providing enhanced scientific and technical support. Our objective with KEPLER is to provide a mechanism that enables the broad range of Polar Regions stakeholders to be equipped with the most accurate and relevant, environmental information so that they can seize the many benefits that Copernicus products generate for society and economy.