Our group The Satellite Observations Department at KNMI employs satellite observations to study the earth system. Current research topics are atmospheric composition in relation to climate, air quality and stratospheric ozone.
We are about 35-40 researchers working on many topics all related to earth observation by satellite instruments: retrieval algorithms, interpretation of satellite observations, validation and more. We also work on in-situ measurements for monitoring and satellite validation.
A large part of our work is done in projects that are part of national and international earth observation programmes of ESA, EUMETSAT and the Framework Programmes of the European Commission. Three notable national programmes for which we are contributing considerably are OMI, SCIAMACHY and TROPOMI.
A brochure about our department in Dutch (left) and English (right).


The Dutch-Finnish instrument OMI is since 2004 in orbit on the NASA EOS-AURA mission. Prof. Pieternel Levelt of our group is the Principle Investigator of OMI. We cooperate with an international team consisting of Dutch, US and Finnish scientists in developing retrieval algorithms, in-flight instrument calibration and trend monitoring, the operational handling of the instrument and conducting the data validation. OMI, which stands for Ozone Monitoring Instrument, measures ozone in the stratosphere and troposphere, aerosols and other trace gasses important for air quality.


SCIAMACHY is a Dutch-German-Belgium instrument on-board the ESA mission ENVISAT which is in orbit since 2002. SCIAMACHY also measured trace gasses and aerosol in the atmosphere but complements OMI in many aspects. Our group works on the validation of SCIAMACHY observations and produces in-house developed products, like near-real time ozone observations. These, and OMI products, are use for numerical weather prediction at ECMWF, for health warnings on surface UV and forecasts of the stratospheric ozone used e.g. by WMO for the Antarctic ozone hole bulletins.


TROPOMI is the successor instrument of OMI and SCIAMACHY, to be launched early in 2016 on ESA's Sentinel-5 Precursor mission. TROPOMI is a spectrometer covering spectral windows in the UV, VIS, NIR and SWIR. The main target gases are O3, SO2, NO2, HCHO, H2O, CO and CH4, and clouds and aerosols.


Lead by EUMETSAT, we cooperate with other European meteorology and climate centres in two SAFs, or Satellite Application Facilities: The SAF on Atmospheric Composition Monitoring and the SAF on Climate Monitoring. These SAFs produce and deliver products on atmospheric composition and clouds derived from the EUMETSAT missions, METOP and METEOSAT.

Data delivery

Being part of the KNMI, the national data and knowledge centre on weather and climate, we are committed to provide data and information to users. We develop and maintain, together with the Information and Observation Services and Technology department at KNMI, web based user services that provide archived and very recent satellite observations. With ESA we operate the TEMIS website, with EUMETSAT the SAF systems and with NASA the OMI data services.


The different satellite instruments provide a wealth of information on the global atmosphere providing new insights in the climate system, in emissions and transport of air pollutants and in the behaviour of stratospheric ozone. Our group cooperates with researcher within and outside KNMI to study trends and variability, feedback mechanisms and quantify model parameters such as sources and sinks of greenhouse gasses and atmospheric pollutants.


The full list of this departments publications can be found here.