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weather balloonOne of the major purposes of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), as laid down in its Convention, is “To facilitate worldwide cooperation in the establishment of networks of stations for the making of meteorological observations as well as hydrological and other geophysical observations related to meteorology, and to promote the establishment and maintenance of centres charged with the provision of meteorological and related services”.

Accordingly, WMO Members operate, in a coordinated manner, complex networks in space, the atmosphere, on land and over oceans. In 2007, Members decided to work towards enhanced integration of both the WMO Global Observing System (GOS) and WMO co-sponsored observing systems such as the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) and Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). This concept is called the WMO Integrated Global Observing Systems (WIGOS). The evolution of the global observing systems addressing the needs of WMO applications and co-sponosored systems is managed through the Rolling Review of Requirements (RRR).

Currently, more than 10000 manned and automatic surface weather stations, 1000 upper-air stations, over 7000 ships, more than 100 moored and 1000 drifting buoys, hundreds of weather radars and over 3000 specially equipped commercial aircraft measure key parameters of the atmosphere, land and ocean surface every day. The space-based component of the WMO Observing System contains operational polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites and also R&D environmental satellites complementing ground-based global observations. These activities are coordinated within the Global Observing System (GOS) of the World Weather Watch (WWW) of WMO. Several WMO Programmes sponsor or participate in the operation of several global observing systems. Other global observing systems, e.g. the global hydrological networks (WHYCOS), function principally on a national or regional level.

Observation programmes such as the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) will continue to play a major role in improving the collection of required data for the development of climate forecasts and climate change detection. WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) provides data for scientific assessments and for early warnings of changes in the chemical composition and related physical characteristics of the atmosphere that may have adverse affects upon our environment. Through its Instruments and Methods of Observation Programme (IMOP), WMO ensures that meteorological instruments, including manual and automatic ground-based stations and space-based observing systems, are accurate and provide standardized data.

WMO monitoring and observing systems will be a core component of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), aimed at developing a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained Earth observation system of systems to understand and address global environmental and economic challenges.




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