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Adrian Simmons handing over GCOS Steering Comittee Chair to Stephen Briggs

GCOS Chairman hand-over 2014


Adrian Simmons, who recently retired from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), has completed his four-year term as Chairman of the GCOS Steering Committee. Stephen Briggs (ESA) has accepted to chair the GCOS Steering Committee with effect from 1 March 2014. Carolin Richter (centre), Director of the GCOS Secretariat, met Adrian (left) and Stephen (right) for a brief hand-over ceremony at the  European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), based at the Harwell Science, Innovation and Business Campus in Oxfordshire, UK, on 3 April 2014. 


Joint GCOS/GOFC-GOLD Workshop on Observations for Climate Change Mitigation

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), in collaboration with the Land Cover Project Office from the Global Observation for Forest Cover and Land Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD), is organizing an international workshop from 5-7 May 2014 at WMO Headquarters in Geneva to consider the climate observation requirements to support mitigation to climate change. The workshop will bring together approximately 25 representatives of sectors in which mitigation to climate variability and climate change is, or is likely to become, an important concern. These also include the communities of agriculture, forestry, and land use.

The goals of the workshop are to identify observational requirements for mitigation, to review the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) and associated guidelines to determine their adequacy for mitigation, and to develop a plan to address these gaps and deficiencies identified. The workshop results will directly feed into the preparation of the next GCOS Progress Review and the new GCOS Implementation Plan, to be developed in the 2015-2016 timeframe.

Workshop documents and further information can be found here.


GCOS Reports by National Climate Observing Systems

The reports, prepared by National Climate Observing Systems, were developed in response to conclusions FCCC/SBSTA/2005/10 Paragraph 95 (2005) and FCCC/SBSTA/2007/L.14 (2007) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). They present the progress made in the implementation of GCOS on a national level, and give an overview of the observations made according to the list of GCOS Essential Climate Variables (ECVs).

Four reports have been published so far:

FINLAND - National Activities with Respect to the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Implementation Plan, Finnish National Report on Systematic Observations for Climate, Finnish Meteorological Institute, November 2013

GERMANY - German Climate Observing Systems, Inventory report on the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), Deutscher Wetterdienst, January 2013

GERMANY - Third Report of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on Systematic Climate Observations in Germany as a contribution to Germany's Fifth National Communication under UNFCCC


SWITZERLAND - The National Climate Observing System, GCOS Switzerland, MeteoSuisse,October 2007

UNITED STATES - The United States National Report on Systematic Observations for Climate for 2008: National Activities with Respect to the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Implementation Pla, Working Group of the US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) on behalf of the US Government, September 2008

UNITED STATES -The United States Detailed National Report on Systematic Observations for Climate: US Global Climate Observing System (US GCOS) Program,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on behalf of the US Government, August 2001



GCOS at COP 19

On Monday 11 November 2013, the Director of the GCOS Secretariat, Dr Carolin Richter, gave a statement of the current status of the GCOS programme at the 39th Session of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Dr Richter reported on behalf of the GCOS partner observing systems for climate, thanked SBSTA and the Conference of Parties for the role that they have played in fulfilling actions identified in the GCOS Implementation Plan (update 2010), and further highlighted GCOS contribution to ESA's Climate Change Initiative, and the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme.

The GCOS Statement for COP 19 of UNFCCC can be found here: pdf PDF



GCOS promotes the work of GOSIC

The GOSIC Portal (http://gosic.org) provides convenient, central, one-stop access to data and information identified by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) and their partner programs, as well as specialized data access tools such as the GCOS ECV Data Access Matrix. The GOSIC is hosted at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and supported by the U.S. GCOS Program.



Artist's impression of GCOS

GCOS encourages the use of Digital Object Identifiers

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) attribute a unique reference to an electronic data set. They provide a permanent identifier that links the user to the current version of the relevant data sets. In view of the growing importance of data sharing, scientific experts from both the Atmospheric and Terrestrial Observational Panel for Climate recently discussed DOIs, as these can help researchers to discover relevant data more easily and attribute the data in a way that appropriately acknowledges its source. DOIs will in future enable to measure data usage to estimate its impact and influence. GCOS Panels encourage international data centres to introduce DOIs for their data records of Essential Climate Variables and recommend dataset producers in general to follow this practice.

For more information on this topic, read the discussion paper from the 2013 Session of the Terrestrial Observing Panel for Climate (TOPC): pdfPDF



20 years of GCOS


GCOS 1992-2012 - 20 Years in Service for Climate Observations

The year 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the system dedicated to ensuring provision of the observational data and information that is the foundation for decisions on climate.

The GCOS Programme formally celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Global Climate Observing System on Friday, 29 June 2012 during the 64th WMO Executive Council meeting in Geneva.  The celebration provided an opportunity to review the origins of the GCOS, to take stock of the accomplishments of GCOS in the first twenty years of its existence, and to think ahead about new opportunities and challenges for GCOS. 

Agenda of the Symposium "GCOS – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow": pdfPDF

Download the presentations as zip-archive (92 MB)

Download the brochure: "GCOS 1992-2012 - 20 Years in Service for Climate Observations"



Upcoming events


GCOS newsletter


The following GCOS reports have been published recently:

Summary Report of the Ninth Session of the GCOS Cooperation Mechanism Board, Bonn, Germany, 3 June 2014 GCOS-186 pdfPDF

Report of the Tropical Pacific Observation System 2020 (TPOS 2020) Workshop, Vol.1 - Workshop report and recommendations, Vol.2 - White papers, La Jolla , United States, 27-30 January 2014


Vol.1 pdfPDF

Vol.2 pdfPDF

Summary Report and Recommendations from the Nineteenth Session of the GCOS/WCRP Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate (AOPC), Ispra, Italy , 9-11 April 2014 GCOS-183 pdfPDF
Workshop on the review of the GCOS Surface Network (GSN), GCOS Upper-Air Network (GUAN), and related atmospheric networks, Ispra, Italy, April 2014 GCOS-182 pdfPDF
GCOS Programme Review - Synthesis Report, Geneva, Switzerland, March 2014 GCOS-181 pdfPDF
Report of the Fifth GCOS Reference Upper-Air Network Implementation and Coordination Meeting (GRUAN ICM-6), Greenbelt, USA, 10-14 March 2014 GCOS-180 pdfPDF
Summary Report of the Sixteenth Session of the GTOS/GCOS/WCRP Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC), Ispra, Italy , 10-11 March 2014 GCOS-179 pdfPDF
Scoping Meeting for the Assessment of the Adequacy of the Global Observing System for Climate, Geneva, Switzerland, 12-13 December 2013 GCOS-178 pdfPDF
WMO/GCOS Report of the Fourth Session of the CBS Lead Centres for GCOS Coordination, Santiago, Chile, 8-10 October 2013 GCOS-177 pdfPDF
Report of the Twenty-First Session of the WMO-IOC-UNEP-ICSU Steering Committee for GCOS, Offenbach, Germany, 22-24 October 2013 GCOS-176 pdfPDF
Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) - Update of the Technical Plan for BSRN Data Management GCOS-174 (WCRP24/2013) pdfPDF
Summary Report of the Fifteenth Session of the GCOS/GOOS/WCRP Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC), Washington DC, United States, 3-5 September 2013 GCOS-173 pdfPDF
The GCOS Reference Upper-Air Network (GRUAN) GUIDE


WIGOS Technical Report No. 2013-03

The GCOS Reference Upper-Air Network (GRUAN) MANUAL


WIGOS Technical Report No. 2013-02


Last modified on Thu, 24 Jul 2014