Global Climate Observing System

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is an international institution co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Council for Science (ICSU). GCOS is intended to be a long-term, user-driven operational system capable of providing the comprehensive observations required for monitoring the climate system, for detecting and attributing climate change, for assessing the impacts of climate variability and change, and for supporting research toward improved understanding, modelling and prediction of the climate system. It addresses the total climate system including physical, chemical and biological properties, and atmospheric, oceanic, hydrologic, cryospheric and terrestrial processes.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has strongly supported the need for systematic climate observations in the GCOS plan and in its recent Conference of the Parties-15 in Copenhagen in December 2009 urged nations to work towards addressing the priorities and gaps identified in the planning for GCOS, in particular the implementation of regional action plans and ensuring sustained long-term operation of networks particularly for the oceanic and terrestrial domains. [1]


Science Panels

GCOS is directed by a Steering Committee which has created three Science Panels. The Steering Committee and the Science Panels are assisted by the GCOS Secretariat, located at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate

The Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate's (AOPC) primary responsibilities are to identify the needs for observations in the areas of meteorology and atmospheric chemistry and to facilitate the establishment or enhancement of networks to obtain them.

Ocean Observations Panel for Climate

The Ocean Observations Panel for Climate is charged with making recommendations for a sustained global ocean observing system for climate in support of the goals of its sponsors. This includes recommendations for phased implementation. The Panel also aids in the development of strategies for evaluation and evolution of the system and of its recommendations, and supports global ocean observing activities by interested parties through liaison and advocacy for the agreed observing plans. It is jointly sponsored by the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) of IOC.

Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate

The Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) was set up to develop a balanced and integrated system of in situ and satellite observations of the terrestrial-ecosystem. It is jointly sponsored by GCOS and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) of FAO, to fulfil their needs for climate-related observations.

GCOS Surface Network

The GCOS Surface network is a world wide co-operative system of global climate monitoring. An example is Australia, which has Reference Climate Stations (RCS), GCOS Surface Network stations (GSN) and combined stations for both systems [2]

External links


  1. ^ "Systematic Climate Observations". UNFCC. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-28. 
  2. ^ Australia. Bureau of Meteorology & Australian Greenhouse Office & National Committee for Climate and Global Change (Australia) (2005). Climate activities in Australia 2005 : a report on Australian participation in international scientific climate programs Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne - page 34 and map on figure 2.3 of the GSN, and RCS stations

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