GBOV objectives
Copernicus is the European Union’s Earth Observation and Monitoring program, delivering free access to operational data and information services in a wide range of application areas. To be of real use in environmental monitoring and decision-making, it is essential to ensure that satellite-derived products such as offered through Copernicus are of high quality and consistency. By comparison with the corresponding in situ observations, their quality can be better understood, facilitating sensible and meaningful application.
Over the last decades, operational ground-based monitoring sites have been established as part of wider thematic observation networks, providing a wealth of information highly relevant for validation and quality assurance purposes. However, the practical use of the such gained in situ observations is hampered by a number of issues such as access restrictions, insufficient standardization, inconsistent quality, or lack of spatial or temporal coverage.
GBOV (Ground-Based Observations for Validation), as part of the Copernicus Global Land Service (see below), aims at facilitating the use of observations from operational ground-based monitoring networks and their comparison to Earth Observation products through the following objectives:

1. Collection of multi-year ground-based observations of high relevance for the understanding of land surface processes from existing global networks. This ground-based observations (Reference Measurements;RMs) will be collected over a series of selected sites organized through international research networks (such as SurfRad AERONET, FluxNet, NEON, ARMBSRNTERNOZFluxUSRCN …). Please, click here to access more details on the list of RMs available. In the the first stage of the project, about 50 core validation sites will be considered.

2. Upgrade of existing sites with new instrumentation or establishing entirely new monitoring sites to close thematic or geographic gaps. This part of the project will be implemented in a second phase.

3.Implementation and maintenance of a database for the distribution of reference measurements (RMs) and the corresponding Land Products (LPs). The focus of GBOV is on providing the information required for in depth quality assessment of the products offered through the global component of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service (CLMS), i.e. the Copernicus Global Land Service (CGLS).


In order to facilitate the practical use of the GBOV database, a number of upscaling procedures will be implemented to provide reference values (the so-called LPs) representative of areas large enough to cover over several pixels of typical mid-resolution satellite imagers. The GBOV service shall primarily allow the quality control of the main land products CGLS products (top-of-canopy reflectances, surface albedo, fAPAR, LAI, fCover, LST and soil moisture) providing collections of multiple years of ground-based RMs and derived land Products (LPs). Obviously, the information offered through GBOV may also be used for a wide range of applications beyond the CGLS. Such external use will be supported by the GBOV data policy granting free and unrestricted access after online registration.

Overview of Copernicus Program
Copernicus is a large EU Programme aimed at developing information services using satellite Earth Observation and in situ (here: non-space) data. The Programme is coordinated and managed by the European Commission. It is implemented in partnership with the EU Member States, ESA, EUMETSAT, ECMWF, EU Agencies, and Mercator Océan.Copernicus services address six main thematic areas: atmosphere, marine, land, climate change, emergency, and security.

Copernicus is served by a set of dedicated satellites, the Sentinel series, as well as by contributing external missions providing complementary observation capacity (ex SPOT-GVT, Proba-V, MSG, GOES, MTSAT/Himawari, METOP/ASCAT …). Additionally, Copernicus ingests information from in situ systems operating on the ground, at sea or in the air.

Copernicus information services are freely and openly provided to their users. They are accessed through dedicated data portals for the individual thematic areas.

Further reading

Copernicus logo. Source:
ESA’s Proba-V mission will host a version of the multispectral Vegetation sensor currently flying on France’s Spot-5 satellite, ensuring data continuity to users when the Spot series ends around 2013. Credits: ESA
Artist’s rendition of the MeteoSat-8 satellite (image credit: EUMETSAT)
Sentinel-1: Seeing through the clouds. Source: ESA
The Copernicus Land Monitoring Service
The Copernicus Land Monitoring Service (CLMS) provides information on land cover and a number of related variables. It supports applications in a variety of domains such as spatial planning, forest management, water management, agriculture and food security, etc. It consists of three main components:

  • The global component, the Copernicus Global Land Service (CGLS), is coordinated by the European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC) and produces a wide range of biophysical variables on the status and evolution of the land surface, at global scale and at mid to low spatial resolution (ca. 0.1 to 5 km).
  • The pan-European component is coordinated by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and produces high resolution (ca. 20 m) data sets for five land cover types: artificial surfaces (e.g. roads and paved areas), forest areas, agricultural areas (grasslands), wetlands, and small water bodies. The pan-European component has also updated the Corine Land Cover dataset to the reference year 2012.
  • The local component is again coordinated by the EEA and aims at providing specific and more detailed information, complementing that produced through the Pan-European component. It focuses on “hotspots” which are prone to specific environmental challenges. The local component provides very high resolution (2.5 m) land cover and land use information for urban areas (urban atlas), as well as along rivers and in designated Natura 2000 sites.

Further reading:

Sentinel-3: Feeling the heat. Source:

The Copernicus Global Land Service
This Global component of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service (CLMS) is referred to as the Copernicus Global Land Service (CGLS) and reliably provides a set of biophysical variables which describe the state and the evolution of the vegetation, the energy budget, the water cycle and the cryosphere over the land surface at global scale.

  • The CGLS consists of three major elements:Most importantly, an operational capacity for systematic global monitoring, reliably and routinely providing bio-geophysical parameters at near-real-time, based on low-to-medium spatial resolution sensors, and including the establishment of consistent long-term time series.
  • The High Resolution Hot Spot Monitoring activity will provide detailed land information on specific areas of interest, answering to ad-hoc requests. It concentrates mainly on the sustainable management of natural resources, with an initial focus on Protected Areas (PA) or Key Landscapes for Conservation (KLC).
  • A database providing ground-based observations (i.e. GBOV) at selected sites in a harmonized and consistent manner to support the validation of products based on satellite observations, as well as localized applications and services.

Further reading:

Copernicus Global Land Service, Surface Albedo (CGLS product ALB BHV V1, resolution 1 km) in the Harz area (Northern Germany) from 13. May 2014. Very low albedo values in the forested areas of the Harz mountain contrast with high albedo values in the crop growing areas further North. Source:
GBOV team

The GBOV service is developed, operated and maintained by ACRI-ST with the support of Expert Support Laboratories :

  • University College London (UK)
  • University of Leicester (UK)
  • University of Southampton (UK)
  • University of Valencia (Spain)
  • INFORMUS (Germany)