Global Climate Observing System

Type of Structure: network / framework activity
Regional Scope: global
Parent Organisations: WMO.UN, IOC.UNESCO, UNEP.UN, ICSU
Child Organisations:
No more in operation: IGOS
Duration : 1992 to present
Contact Address: no office contact defined

General information and objectives

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) was established in 1992 to ensure that the observations and information needed to address climate-related issues are obtained and made available to all potential users. It is 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 main objectives of GCOS are to meet the needs for:
  • climate system monitoring, climate change detection and response monitoring especially in terrestrial ecosystems and mean sea-level;
  • application to national economic development;
  • research toward improved understanding, modelling and prediction of the climate system.

GCOS will build, to the extent possible, on existing operational and research observing, data management and information distribution systems, and further enhancements of these systems, including :
  • Existing and enhanced World Weather Watch ( WWW ) systems;
  • The Global Atmosphere Watch ( GAW ) and related atmospheric constituent observing systems;
  • The Global Ocean Observing System ( GOOS ) for physical, chemical and biological measurements;
  • The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS ) for land surface ecosystem, hydrosphere, and cryosphere measurements;
  • The maintenance and enhancement of programmes monitoring other key components of the climate system, such as terrestrial ecosystems (including the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, IGBP ), as well as clouds and the hydrological cycle, the earth's radiation budget, ice sheets and precipitation over the oceans (including the World Climate Research Programme, WCRP ) ;
  • Programmes to monitor the key physical, chemical and biological aspects of the impacts of climate change (including the World Climate Impact Assessment and Response Strategies Programme);
  • Data communication and other infrastructures necessary to support operational climate forecasting (including the World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme ( WCDMP ) and the Climate Information and Prediction Services ( CLIPS ) .

The Swiss focal point for GCOS
is based at the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss. Since 1 February 2006, the Swiss GCOS Office is established and can be contacted for questions and comments about GCOS at gcos@meteoswiss.ch .

The objectives of the Swiss GCOS Office include the coordination between Federal Offices and university institutes with climate relevant measurements, the active participation of Switzerland in the establishment of GCOS and the regular reporting about the status of the national GCOS measurement networks in the framework of the UNFCCC reporting commitments.

National GCOS Office

Last update: 4/27/22
Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2022)

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