GCOS Implementation Plan 2016
Approved by the 24th of the GCOS Steering Committee and submitted to UNFCCC
The draft of the new GCOS Implementation Plan has been approved by the GCOS Steering Committee at its 24th Session at CIIFEN, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. It has been submitted to the UNFCCC or further considerations.
Direct link to the document:
Call for Nominations:
The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), are looking for scientists to serve on the three Science panels:
Panel members are tasked with:
Working on strategies for developing and improving the sustained observing system, including harnessing new technologies Each panel meets once a year and interacts through the year to provide the needed advice and support. Financial support to attend Panel meetings is provided. Members are initially appointed for a 3 year term, with a possibility of extension by another 2 years. The next Panel meetings are currently scheduled to be:
The Panel member selection will be performed on the basis of:
If you are interested please send your CV and a brief statement of interest indicating the panel of interest to email@example.com before 15 December 2016.
GCOS has been recognized by the UNFCCC since 1997 as the programme leading the improvement of systematic observations to meet the needs of the convention (e.g. Decisions 8/CP.3, 14/CP.4, 9/CP.15). (See also unfccc.int/3581).
GCOS supports an internationally coordinated network of observing systems. It is designed to meet evolving requirements for climate observations, which are fundamental to detect, model and assess climate change, support adaptation to climate change, monitor the effectiveness of policies for mitigating climate change, develop climate information services, promote sustainable national economic development and meet other requirements of the UNFCCC and other conventions and agreements. GCOS addresses the total climate system including physical, chemical and biological properties, and atmospheric, oceanic, terrestrial, hydrological, and cryospheric components. In 2015, GCOS produced a report Status of the Global Observing System for Climate (GCOS-195) and has submitted a new plan The Global Observing System for Climate: Implementation Needs (GCOS-200) to the UNFCCCC for COP22. GCOS is now looking forward to implementing this plan.
The three science Panels were established to define observations needed in each of the three main global domains-atmosphere, oceans and land: to prepare and to make recommendations for improvements. The Panels’ expertise is essential for assessing the capabilities, gaps and deficiencies of current climate-observing systems. Their work and discussions contribute directly to the regular reports to the UNFCCC about the status of global climate-observing capacities.
WCRP’s mission is to facilitate the analysis and prediction of Earth system variability and change for use in an increasing range of practical applications of direct relevance, benefit and value to society. The two overarching objectives of the WCRP are to determine the predictability of climate and to determine the effect of human activities on climate.
Tropical Pacific Observing System 2020 First Report
The Tropical Pacific Observing System 2020 Project (TPOS 2020) was formed as a finite lifetime project to oversee the redesign of the Tropical Pacific Observing System.
The outcomes of the project will be presented through 3 reports in 2016, 2018 and 2020.
The first report is now available for public review: See: http://tpos2020.org/first-report/.
Deadline for comments is 23 September 2016.
The abstracts of the presentations and of the posters are now available, compiled in the
Please feel free to circulate this information to any interested person.
The GCOS Science Conference
Status of the Global Observing System for Climate
GCOS has released its report Status of the Global Observing System for Climate (GCOS-195) which has been submitted to the UNFCCC in December in Paris. The results of the global observing system have proved invaluable and have underpinned the IPCC fifth assessment report. However, as the IPCC identifies, there are gaps in the global observing system particularly with regional information. It is important for climate observations to improve understanding and prediction of climate change not just globally but also regionally. The needs of climate services, such as adapting to climate change and variability on regional and local scales, are adding additional requirements on the observing system.
The report reviews the overall status of each Essential Climate Variable (ECV), assesses progress against the latest Implementation plan, the Implementation Plan for the Global Observing System for Climate in Support of the UNFCCC (2010 Update), and identifies gaps. The report does not provide actions or plans to address gaps, deficiencies or additional requirements that have been identified: this is the role of the new GCOS Implementation Plan being developed for release and submission to the UNFCCC in 2016.
This report has been submitted to the 43rd session of the SBSTA, at UNFCCC's Conference of the Parties, COP 21, to be held 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris.
The Final Report is now available and can be downloaded here:
Status of the Global Observing System for Climate (GCOS-195) High Resolution
Status of the Global Observing System for Climate (GCOS-195) Low Resolution
Global Climate Observing System - Sound Climate Plicy requires Systematic Climate Observation English Version
COP-21 Side Event: The Status of Climate Observations in Africa, Friday 4 December, 10 a.m., Africa Pavilion
This side event discussed the status of climate observations in Africa and presented some of the work being done by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) to fill these gaps. It was an opportunity for the participants to give their views in the future development of African climate observations and GCOS.
It introduced the GCOS 2015 Status Report of the Global Climate Observing System and presented some of its findings relevant to Africa. While this report outlines significant improvements there are still gaps and limitations in African monitoring. The side event also presented the support and assistance to fill some of these gaps, most recently in Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Zambia provided through the GCOS Cooperation Mechanism.
The speakers were:
ESA's Free Online Course - 30 November 2015
Run to coincide with the start of COP21, ESA's free online course on Monitoring Climate from Space starts on 30 November 2015. Sign up now!
Join leading experts and scientists to explore our planet from space and learn how Earth observations are used to monitor climate change. Aimed at a broad audience, this course takes participants through five themed weeks with online lectures, quizzes, and the chance to engage in discussions with the course educators and other learners.
The course can help decision makers, policy makers, educators and communicators, to gain a better insight into how satellite data can help them assess the state of our climate and its changes, in order to support climate science, and adaptation and mitigation decisions.
GCOS certificate of Recognition for GSN and GUAN
The GCOS Surface Network (GSN) is a subset of roughly 1000 baseline surface stations of WMO`s World Weather Watch. A select set of 150 upper air stations was designated as the GCOS Upper-Air Network (GUAN). GSN and GUAN became the initial baseline components of the atmospheric networks. Designation of these networks benefitted the GCOS and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, NMHSs. For the GCOS, designation helped incorporate climate requirements into meteorological service procedures. For NMHSs, designation of a station as part of the global climate network helped sustain support for these long-running sites. These networks provided the foundation for the Regional Basic Climatological Network, which provides far greater spatial detail on the variability of climate.
Both networks, GSN and GUAN, need continuous performance monitoring, regular maintenance and sustained technical and operational support. A dedicated GCOS System Improvement Programme managed by Network Manager Mr Tim Oakley, is assisting and supporting WMO members with these tasks. As a token of appreciation, the GCOS Secretariat has been handing out certificates of recognition to Members who have taken on the responsibility to operate GSN and GUAN stations.
Tim Oakley, GCOS Network Manager, attended beginning of October 2015 the expert team meeting on Surface Based Observations of the WMO Commission for Basic Systems in Tokyo, Japan. At the side lines he took the opportunity to present the Japanese Meteorological Agency, JMA, with GCOS' certificate of recognition for Japan's support of the GCOS Surface Network and GCOS Upper-Air Network stations, GSN and GUAN.
Tim Oakley (left) presenting the GCOS Certificate of Recognition to the Director General of JMA, Mr Noritake Nishide (right).
Carolin Richter, Director GCOS Secretariat, and Stephen Briggs, Chairman of the GCOS Steering Committee, presented the Certificate of Recognition to Linda Makuleni, Chief Executive Officer of the South-African Weather Service (SAWS) at the side-lines of the GCOS Steering Committee Meeting, from 29 September to 1 October 2015, in Simon's Town, South Africa.
(from left to right): Stephen Briggs, Linda Makuleni, Carolin Richter
Public Review of 2015 GCOS Status Report
The public review period of the 2015 GCOS Status Report, Status of the Global Observing System, has now finished.
Review comments are now being considered and a revised draft will be presented to the GCOS Steering Committee at the end of September for their approval.
If there are any late comments please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so that they can be addressed before the meeting of the GCOS Steering Committee.In November 2012, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change invited GCOS to submit a report on the assessment of the adequacy of the global observing systems for climate. The GCOS Secretariat and leading key experts have prepared a draft Status Report of the Global Observing System for Climate for submission to GCOS' sponsoring organizations and Parties to the UNFCCC. It reviews the overall status of each Essential Climate Variable, assesses progress against the GCOS Implementation Plan and identifies gaps. This report will be submitted to the 43rd session of the SBSTA, at UNFCCC`s Conference of the Parties, COP 21, to be held 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris. It is important for climate observations to improve understanding and prediction of climate change. The needs of climate services, such as adapting to climate change and variability, are evolving. In addition, the upcoming UNFCCC meeting in Paris will be important for future climate policies. Therefore, we would like to invite as wide a range of reviewers as possible to review this report in whole or the parts relevant to you, and submit comments to us. All comments will be considered by the authors.
The report of the joint GCOS - UNFCCC - IPCCC workshop held on Bonn, Germany 10'12 February GCOS Workshop on Enhancing Observation to Support Preparedness and Adaption in a Changing Climate - Learning from the IPCC 5th Assessment Report (GCOS-191) is now available. The final version of this file will be released as soon as possible.
GCOS Programme Review
After 20 years of operation, a review of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) programme was long overdue. The GCOS programme sponsors accepted the proposal for review, and in December 2012 the WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud appointed a Chair and invited the sponsors to nominate a Review Board.
The Review Board gathered evidence in four ways: 1) a self-assessment by current and former GCOS Steering Committee Chairs and former GCOS Secretariat Directors, 2) a survey questionnaire distributed to the broader GCOS community, 3) a number of targeted personal interviews with senior representatives of the GCOS programme sponsors, and 4) active and considered appraisal and interpretation of results by the Review Board members. The findings were summarized thus:
"There is no doubt that the GCOS programme should be continued. It is indispensable. If it ceased to exist it would need to be re-created. To make GCOS fit for the future, the GCOS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) should be redrafted on the basis of careful consideration of all its chapters and annexes. A revised MoU should reflect all items that were previously included, along with new understandings and commitments by sponsors, such as a better cooperation mechanism and an optimized structure for the Secretariat, Steering Committee and its Panels. This should be supported by a more stable financial foundation as a prerequisite for everything else."
The main outcomes of this review are summarized in a synthesis report:
New GCOS panel brochures
GCOS has published new information brochures for both the GCOS/GTOS/WCRP Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC), as well as the GCOS/WCRP Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate (AOPC). The science panels have been established to define the observations needed in the domains of atmosphere and land, to prepare scientific programme elements and to make recommendations for implementation.
Please find the new brochures here:
The concept of ECVs in support of climate research, applications, and policy
In September 2014, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has published a paper written by the GCOS community that describes the concept of Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) developed under the Global Climate Observing System for a range of applications, as well as to provide an empirical basis for understanding past, current, and possible future climate variability and change.
The paper can be found here.
Adrian Simmons handing over GCOS Steering Comittee Chair to Stephen Briggs
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.
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, August 2009
|JAPAN - Japanese National Report on Systematic Observations for Climate - National Activities with Respect to the GCOS Implementation Plan, Japanese Meteorological Agency, August 2014|
|NETHERLANDS - Climate Observation Systems in the Netherlands - National activities contributing to GCOS, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), October 2014|
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 Plan, 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 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): PDF
The following GCOS reports have been published recently:
|WMO/GCOS Report of the Fifth Session of the CBS Lead Centres for GCOS Coordination Meeting, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 7-9 September 2016||GCOS-203|
|Report of the 18th Session of the GCOS/GTOS/WCRP Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC-18) Boulder, United States, 25-27 April 2016||GCOS-202|
|Report of the Nineteenth Session of the GCOS/GOOS/WCRP Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC-19), Esporles, Majorca, Spain, 6-8 April 2016||GCOS-201|
|Report of the 21th Session of the GCOS/WCRP Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate (AOPC-21) Asheville NC, United States, 5-8 April 2016||GCOS-199|
|Report of the Seventh GCOS Reference Upper Air Network Implementation and Coordination Meeting (GRUAN ICM-7), February 2015||GCOS-198|
|Minutes of the working Meeting for GCOS Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN), Geneva, Switzerland, 18 November 2015||GCOS-197|
|Report of the Twenty-Third Session of the WMO-IOC-UNEP-ICSU Steering Committee for GCOS, Simon’s Town, South Africa, 29 September-1st October 2015||GCOS-196|
|Status of the Global Observing System for Climate - Full Report||GCOS-195|
|Status of the Global Observing System for Climate: Executive Summary||GCOS-194||en_PDF fr_PDF|
|GCOS Workshop on Enhancing Observation to Support Preparedness and Adaptation in a Changing Climate - Learning from the IPCC 5th Assessment Report. Bonn, Germany, 10-12 February 2015||GCOS-191|
|Report of the 20th Session of the GCOS/WCRP Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate (AOPC-20) WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland 17-20 March 2015||GCOS-190|
|Report of the 17th Session of the GCOS/GTOS/WCRP Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC-17) WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland 16-18 March 2015||GCOS-189|
|Report of the Twenty-Second Session of the WMO-IOC-UNEP-ICSU Steering Committee for GCOS, Geneva, Switzerland, 1-3 October 2014||GCOS-188|
|Report of the Seventeenth Session of the GCOS/GOOS/WCRP Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC), Barcelona, Spain, 21-23 July 2014||GCOS-187|
|Summary Report of the Ninth Session of the GCOS Cooperation Mechanism Board, Bonn, Germany, 3 June 2014||GCOS-186|
|Report of the joint GCOS/GOFC-GOLD Workshop on Observations for Climate Change Mitigation, Geneva, Switzerland, 5-7 May 2014||GCOS-185|
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
|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|
|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|
|GCOS Programme Review - Synthesis Report, Geneva, Switzerland, March 2014||GCOS-181|
|Report of the Fifth GCOS Reference Upper-Air Network Implementation and Coordination Meeting (GRUAN ICM-6), Greenbelt, USA, 10-14 March 2014||GCOS-180|
|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|
|Scoping Meeting for the Assessment of the Adequacy of the Global Observing System for Climate, Geneva, Switzerland, 12-13 December 2013||GCOS-178|