The observation of the climate, its variability and change has gained increasing significance. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) founded in 1992 is systematically collecting climate-relevant observations and information and provides them to any potential users.

Satellite image of the Earth with a focus on Europe and North Africa
Satellite image of the Earth © EUMETSAT, Archive FU Berlin

In view of its variability and possible changes, climate observation has gained increasing significance, especially since the United Nations Conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is a joint initiative of the World Organisation for Meteorology (WMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Council for Science (ICSU).
The purpose of the system is to ensure that the necessary climate-relevant observations and information are systematically collected and provided to all potential users.

GCOS is taking into consideration in particular the requirements set forth in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The observations relate to the entire climate system: the physical, chemical and biological properties of the atmosphere, the ocean and the surface of the land. It is based on existing observation programmes, thus representing all global observation programmes relating to the climate convention. Among other things, the evaluations of the collected series of climatic measurements are incorporated into the collected work of the international climate experts (IPCC reports).

The Swiss GCOS Office at the Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology, MeteoSwiss, is tasked with coordinating the climate observation in Switzerland.

Further information