(pages updated on 08-Feb-2013 )
Evolution of the Global Observing System (GOS)
The Global Observing System
Since the establishment by WMO of the World Weather Watch (WWW) in 1963, the Global Observing System (GOS) has been the major mechanism for providing continuous and reliable observational data world-wide. The GOS started with a relatively narrow set of observational requirements in support of mainly synoptic, mesoscale and short-term weather forecasts. Over the past four decades, however, the WWW, and specifically its GOS, have drastically developed their technological capabilities in response to requirements that have evolved within WMO and beyond.
The GOS currently consists of observing facilities deployed on land, at sea, in the air and in outer space. The backbone of the surface-based subsystem continues to be about 11.000 stations on land making observations at or near the Earth's surface, at least every three hours. In addition, nearly 1,300 upper air stations generated over 1500 upper air reports daily. A constellation of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites constitutes the operational space-based subsystem of the GOS, whose major goal is to augment the observations provided by the surface-based subsystem to achieve complete global coverage. These facilities are owned and operated by the Member countries of WMO, each of which undertakes to meet certain responsibilities in the agreed global scheme so that all can benefit from the consolidated efforts.
Requirements for increased long-term reliability and accuracy are being placed upon the GOS by another WMO programme, the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), a dedicated system designed specifically to meet the scientific requirements for monitoring the climate and its variability.
The fourteenth WMO Congress, in 2003 reconfirmed the need for a coordinated approach to a fundamental redesign of the GOS. The redesign involved experts and decision-makers in observing technology, network design, and numerical weather prediction (NWP). It addressed innovative ways of funding and operations management for the deployment of observations in remote and/or extraterritorial areas and for developing countries.
The WMO Commission on Basic Systems (CBS) has made a substantial start on redesign of the GOS and its further evolution. A process named the Rolling Review of Requirements (RRR) has been instituted for continuously reviewing the requirements of WMO Members and international programmes and the results obtained under current circumstances.
The GOS will continue to be the system of operational surface and space-based observing platforms. As a general principal, the evolution of the system will be based on proven techniques and will represent the best mix of observing elements that
Impact of Evolution
The impact of the changes to the GOS in the next decades will be so massive that new revolutionary approaches for science, data handling, product development, training, and utilization will be required. The new GOS will facilitate the strengthening of cooperation at national, regional, and global levels among countries and relevant non-Governmental organizations. Finally, as new technologies are introduced, the new system will allow for adequate overlap with the old to enable a smooth transition from the old to the new system, particularly for developing countries.
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