GCOS – Global Climate Observing System

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), and the International Science Council (ISC). It regularly assesses the status of global climate observations of the atmosphere, land and ocean and produces guidance for its improvement.

GCOS works towards a world where climate observations are accurate and sustained, and access to climate data is free and open.

GCOS expert panels maintain definitions of Essential Climate Variables (ECVs). They identify gaps by comparing the existing climate observation system with these ECVs. ECVs are the observations required to systematically observe Earth`s changing climate. The expert panels regularly develop plans on how to sustain, coordinate and improve physical, chemical and biological observations.

The observations supported by GCOS contribute to solving challenges in climate research and also underpin climate services and adaptation measures.

Essential Climate Variables

Essential Climate Variables Table