Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)

Introduction

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.

GCOS does not itself directly make observations nor generate data products. It stimulates, encourages, coordinates and otherwise facilitates the taking of the needed observations by national or international organizations in support of their own requirements as well as of common goals. It provides an operational framework for integrating, and enhancing as needed, observational systems of participating countries and organizations into a comprehensive system focussed on the requirements for climate issues. GCOS builds upon, and works in partnership with, other existing and developing observing systems such as the Global Ocean Observing System, the Global Terrestrial Observing System, and the Global Observing System and Global Atmospheric Watch of the World Meteorological Organization.