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and. Adrian Simmons Chair, Steering Committee for GCOS. Adapted from the MoU of the GCOS sponsors. The functions of the GCOS programme are: to formulate the concept and scope of the Global Climate Observing System;

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Adrian Simmons

Chair, Steering Committee for GCOS


Adapted from the MoU of the GCOS sponsors

The functions of the GCOS programme are:

  • to formulate the concept and scope of the Global Climate Observing System;

  • to provide scientific and technical guidance to sponsoring and other agencies providing component atmospheric, oceanic and terrestrial observing systems, for planning, implementation and further development of the GCOS.

    The GCOS should meet the data needs for:

  • monitoring the climate system, detecting change, determining impacts;

  • application to national economic development;

  • research toward improved understanding, modelling and prediction of the climate system.

The scope of gcos
The scope of GCOS

The scope of GCOS encompasses:

  • the observations

    • what is measured, how it is measured, where it is measured, how measurement is sustained, how change is managed, …

  • data transmission

    • what is transmitted, how it is coded, with what time delay, …

  • data management

    • archiving and access to raw data, metadata, processed data records and products, …

  • fundamental climate data records

    • including recalibration, homogenisation, …

  • data products (ECV products, thematic climate data records)

    • satellite retrievals, gridded fields from in situ measurements, comprehensive reanalyses, …

The global climate observing system
The Global Climate Observing System

The GCOS supports:

  • Assessment (IPCC)

  • Policy (UNFCCC)

  • Research (WCRP, IGBP)

  • Services (GFCS)

    In 2009, the programme published:

  • Progress Report on Implementation 2004-2008

    and prepared:

  • Updated Implementation Plan for the GCOS in support of the UNFCCC

Updated implementation plan for the gcos in support of the unfccc
Updated Implementation Plan for the GCOS in support of the UNFCCC

  • Update of 2004 plan, following assessment of progress 2004-2008

  • Prepared by a workshop, and then by panel and SC chairs, and members of secretariats, under Paul Mason

  • Period of open public review ended 31 January 2010

  • Comments have yet to be processed.

  • But we have one GCOS; most actions in IP-10 serve multiple user segments

  • Making separate plans in support of different segments would be neither sensible nor practical

  • Need to assess what else is needed for support of non-UNFCCC segment

Data record guidelines
Data record guidelines UNFCCC

Following earlier discussions in AOPC and elsewhere, the Steering Committee for GCOS at its October meeting:

  • noted the frequent lack of documentation, production transparency, international coordination and uncertainty estimation associated with climate data records

  • confirmed the importance of promoting the importance of best practices for transparency in generation of climate datasets and products, through GCOS guidelines (revising GCOS-128 publication)

    • CCl-XV will consider a proposal to develop a strategy for implementing Quality Management for database and product development

  • called for further elaboration of the issue of peer review of climate datasets with experts in WCRP, GOOS, and GTOS, noting that the next meeting of the WOAP would be an appropriate forum to consider this subject.

Global framework for climate services
Global Framework for Climate Services UNFCCC

There was strong and mutually supportive involvement of GCOS and WCRP in World Climate Conference-3, which has led to further steps towards establishment of a GFCS

  • a “high-level taskforce” will meet soon for the first time

  • an invitation to provide expert assistance may be extended inter alia to GCOS and WCRP

    In October, the Steering Committee for GCOS:

  • urged the Director [of the GCOS secretariat] to work closely with her WCRP counterpart in scoping the potential contribution of GCOS and WCRP to the proposed GFCS and to climate research and applications more generally.


  • Three “GCOS” panels

    • AOPC, co-sponsored by WCRP, linking with several parts of WMO

    • OOPC, co-sponsored by GOOS and WCRP

    • TOPC, co-sponsored by GTOS and WCRP

  • One “WCRP” panel

    • WOAP, co-sponsored by GCOS

  • Is this an effective and robust working arrangement?

    • WCRP involvement in AOPC (at least) has not been strong

    • AOPC meets annually for 4-4.5 days; WOAP will meet next for 3 days after an 18-month gap, four weeks before AOPC

    • Scope for better integration, especially in context of changes in Chair

Aopc atmospheric observations panel for climate
AOPC – Atmospheric Observations Panel for Climate UNFCCC

  • Meets regularly at end of April

  • Has an emphasis on the working of GCOS in situ networks:

    • GSN/GUAN sub-sets of global surface and upper-air networks

    • “GAW plus …” networks for atmospheric chemical composition

    • developing the GRUAN network for reference upper-air sounding

  • Has watching brief on satellite observation and data processing

    • especially as regards observations of reference quality

    • especially with regard to potential data gaps

  • Considers

    • interface with land and ocean

    • product development (GPCC, reanalysis, …)

    • other issues from time to time (palaeo, data rescue, regional development, …)

  • Will have SPARC representation at meeting this April

Oopc ocean observations panel for climate
OOPC – Ocean Observations Panel for Climate UNFCCC

Met in January, under new Chair Eric Lindstrom, with the following main decisions and actions:

  • Improve societal relevance of its ocean climate indices

  • Framework for sustained ocean observations includes biogeochemistry and ecosystems (post-OceanObs’09)

  • Review deep ocean observation requirements

  • Review of ocean thermal observation requirements

  • Strengthen link with WCRP (with CLIVAR basin panels in particular, and over articulation of need for sustained observation)

  • Review requirements of Implementation Plan, especially for air-sea fluxes

  • Promote data sharing

  • Look to future requirement for western boundary current monitoring

Topc terrestrial observation panel for climate
TOPC – Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate UNFCCC

Meets next month. From the report to last meeting of Steering Committee:

  • Significant progress in defining standards for the terrestrial ECVs

  • Slow progress in establishing institutional support for in situ networks

  • Creating comprehensive, coordinated reference networks remains a challenge

  • Establishment of Global Terrestrial Networks (GTNs) in a number of areas (e.g. Hydrology, Glaciers, Permafrost) has been beneficial

  • Progress has also been made in the production of global fire-related datasets

  • Observations often not made available, sometimes due to perceived economic or national strategic value; reports of river discharge are an example

  • Good progress in guaranteeing short- (but not long-) term continuity of high-resolution optical observations from satellites

  • Increasing commitment of space agencies to produce fundamental climate data records from existing systems has improved availability of global datasets

  • Slow progress on analysis of historical records