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(page updated on 13-Dec-2012 )

WMO Observational Requirements and Capabilities

Maintained by the WMO Space Programme, the Observing Systems Capabilities Analysis and Review tool (OSCAR) is is a component of the Rolling Requirements Review process for recording observational requirements and observing capabilities (both space-based and surface-based), and conducting critical reviews of how well the capabilities address the requirements.

Observing Requirements

The observational user requirements component of OSCAR (OSCAR/Requirements) provides a record of observational user requirements formulated by WMO and co-sponsored programmes: GCOS, GOOS, WCRP. The requirements are regularly reviewed by groups of experts nominated by these organizations and programmes.

For WMO, this process is conducted by the Inter-Programme Expert Team on Observing System Design and Evolution (IPET-OSDE) and its designated focal points for each of the WMO application areas (e.g. Global NWP, High-resolution NWP, Synoptic meteorology, Nowcasting and Very Short Range Forecasting, Seasonal to Inter-annual Monitoring, Atmospheric chemistry, Aeronautical meteorology, Agricultural meteorology, Hydrology and water resources).

Requirements are expressed for geophysical variables in terms of 5 criteria: horizontal resolution, vertical resolution, observing cycle, timeliness and uncertainty. For each of these criteria the table indicates 3 values determined by experts:

- the “threshold” is the minimum requirement to be met to ensure that data are useful
- the “goal” is an ideal requirement above which further improvements are not necessary
- the “breakthrough” is an intermediate level between “threshold” and “goal“ which, if achieved, would result in a significant improvement for the targeted application. The breakthrough level may be considered as an optimum, from a cost-benefit point of view, when planning or designing observing systems.

Space-based observing capabilities

The space-based component of OSCAR (OSCAR/Space) is replacing the former WMO Dossier on the space-based component of the GOS (available here for reference, but no longer maintained). The initial version of OSCAR/Space has been released in September 2012. In subsequent releases it will be gradually enhanced with further instrument details and additional information fields.

OSCAR/Space contains reference information on Earth Observation satellites and instruments, as well as an expert assessment of the variables that can be derived from each instrument category. This assessment is used to provide a first-level of gap analysis and to evaluate the progress in implementation of the Vision for the GOS.

Surface-based observing capabilities

Information on surface-based observing capabilities are planned to be made available through the surface-based component of OSCAR (OSCAR/Surface). This component is currently under development and surface-based observing capabilities therefore not available for the time being. However, some information on surface based observing systems capabilities can be obtained through the following websites:

  • World Weather Watch Operational Information Service (OIS)
  • Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Station Information System (GAWSIS)
  • World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS)
  • JCOMM in situ Ocean Observations Programme Support Centre (JCOMMOPS)



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