GLOBAL CLIMATE OBSERVING SYSTEM (GCOS):
Report by Dr Alan Thomas, Director, GCOS Secretariat, to the 14th session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA-14) of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
On behalf of the agencies participating in the Climate Agenda, including the GCOS Sponsors (World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and International Council for Science (ICSU)), the GCOS Secretariat has prepared the this interim report to SBSTA-14 in response to relevant parts of decisions 14/CP.4 and 5/CP.5.
In response to 5/CP.5, the GCOS secretariat has initiated Regional Workshops Programme to identify the capacity building needs of developing countries with respect to systematic observation. The principal goals of the Programme are to assist participants in identifying regional deficiencies in climate observing systems, to assess priority observing system needs in the region, and to initiate the development of regional action plans and proposals to fund improvements in observing systems.
We are pleased that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has recently provided partial support for the first 2 regional workshops in addition to the support that was received from the WMO, UNEP, USA and Australia. The first regional workshop covering the South Pacific region was organised in Samoa in August 2000, in co-operation with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). A regional Action Plan is underdevelopment for the Pacific Island Countries. The second regional workshop for Parties in eastern and southern Africa will take place on October 3 – 5, 2001 in Kisumu, Kenya. Planning is proceeding for workshops next year in the Caribbean and Central America region and in Asia. GCOS is preparing a proposal to GEF for partial support of the remaining 8 regional workshops. While several offers of support have been received, the GCOS Secretariat is seeking additional support from Parties for these workshops.
Synthesis and Analysis of Reports on Global Climate Observing Systems
Decision 5/CP.5 requested the Convention secretariat, in conjunction with the GCOS secretariat, to develop a process for synthesising and analysing national reports on observations. GCOS will be supporting the efforts of the Convention secretariat in the review, compilation and synthesis of the detailed reports from Parties. This report will provide the COP with an overview of global observing systems for climate and with an analysis based on the information as reported by Parties.
In addition, the GCOS Steering Committee, at its 9th session in September 2000 in Beijing, China, recommended that a second assessment of the adequacy of global climate observing systems be prepared in light of developments since the first "Adequacy" report to the COP in 1998. The goal of the report will be to determine what progress has been made in defining and implementing observing networks and systems, since the first report and to assess how well current systems and planned improvements will meet the needs of the Convention.
This ‘adequacy’ assessment will involve international scientific experts, such as those on the GCOS Science panels, and utilize data and information from all available sources, such as national, regional and international organizations. It also will highlight new developments and evolving opportunities, such as the increasing capabilities of satellites for long-term, calibrated climate observations, and the new methods for integrating global insitu and satellite observations with numerical models.
GCOS Implementation Strategy and Intergovernmental Process
Decision 14/CP.4 and 5/CP.5 encouraged GCOS to initiate an intergovernmental process to identify the priorities for action to improve global observing systems for climate and options for their financial support. Based on extensive consultations, GCOS has developed an Implementation Strategy that was approved by the GCOS Steering Committee at its 9th session. The Strategy emphasises the need to foster ownership by national governments in implementing a multidisciplinary and multi-domain global climate observing system by stressing the cost effectiveness of building on existing national systems that in many cases have been implemented for other purposes. GCOS will:
The GCOS Secretariat has communicated the importance of the COP decisions to its Sponsors. In response, the Sponsors are encouraging their Members to ensure that their national delegations to the COP have access to appropriate scientific expertise and advice on climate observations. We also have received support for the Regional Workshops to identify the priority capacity-building needs of developing countries from the GCOS Sponsors and some of their Members. The oceanographic, meteorological, and associated hydrological agencies of the Parties also have been informed on the importance of preparing detailed reports on systematic observation due in November 2001, in conjunction with National Communications. Non Annex I Parties also were informed on the possible availability of funding from the GEF for enabling activities related to systematic observation.
In addition, matters related to the implementation of the systematic observations required by the UNFCCC were brought to the attention of several intergovernmental bodies over the last year including the WMO Regional Associations II, III and IV (respectively, Asia, South America, and North and Central America); the WMO Technical Commissions for Hydrology, Climatology, and Basic Systems; and the Joint Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology.
Responding positively to the decisions from the UNFCCC Conference of Parties and reporting to the Subsidiary Bodies has been an important focus for GCOS.
Developments in the Global Climate Observing Systems
GCOS is preparing a report to SBSTA-15 at COP-7 to highlight recent developments and to document some known deficiencies in the Global Climate Observing Systems. One positive development is the recent efforts to establish a Global Terrestrial Network for Hydrology (GTN-H). This network will improve the collection and quality control of hydrological data and develop products to respond to information requirements with regard to climate prediction, impacts and adaptation including the characterization of hydrological variability and water sustainability as a function of water use and availability.
This concludes the interim report on recent developments related to systematic observation from the GCOS secretariat