Environmental services

Copernicus - Europe's eyes on Earth


The development of ECMWF's Integrated Forecasting System into a more complete Earth system model has created an opportunity to analyse and predict other aspects of the natural environment than purely the weather.

Using its weather modelling and observational framework, ECMWF helps deliver the EU-funded Copernicus programme and offers high-quality information on climate change, atmospheric composition, flooding and fire danger to its users in Europe and worldwide.

The European Union's Earth observation programme

What is Copernicus?

Copernicus is the European Union (EU) flagship programme for monitoring the Earth’s environment using satellite and in-situ observations. It delivers operational data and information services on a range of topical areas. Based on these services, many other value-added products can be tailored to more specific public or commercial needs. Economic studies have demonstrated a huge potential for job creation, innovation and growth. The information services provided are freely and openly accessible to users.

The role of ECMWF in the Copernicus services

ECMWF is operating two services on behalf of the European Union: the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). It also contributes to the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) and collaborates with the Copernicus Marine Environment Management Service (CMEMS).

From the start, ECMWF has been strongly involved in the development of Copernicus information services. It coordinated the pilot atmosphere monitoring service (MACC-II) and a precursor of the climate change service (ERA-CLIM2). It was awarded the implementation of C3S and CAMS by the European Commission in November 2014 because of its infrastructure, operational know-how, scientific expertise and international scientific network.

CAMS, C3S and CEMS are developed and operated in a way that complements the established range of national meteorological and environmental services. The strong involvement of current service providers and key representatives from relevant academic communities ensures the Copernicus services can benefit most fully from existing infrastructure and knowledge. It also ensures that the services are implemented in a manner consistent with the EU principles of complementarity and subsidiarity. 

What is the added-value of the Copernicus services?

  • Guarantee of service, providing global spatial coverage
  • Near-real time data provided to end users
  • Integration of the data (space and in-situ) and analyses
  • Global/pan-European approach to Earth monitoring

How does Copernicus help the citizens of Europe?

Copernicus is the concrete realisation of the European idea of providing citizens with new public services on both a European and global scale. By investing in Earth monitoring and observation systems and networks, which monitor and forecast the state of the environment (land, sea and atmosphere), we are now better able to understand our planet, protect and sustain our environment and feel more safe and secure.

Find out more about Copernicus procurements.