National climate observation

Switzerland is making a significant contribution to global climate observation: with a number of systematic observation programmes, long-term series of measurements as well as international data and calibration centres.

Messapparaturen der Beobachtungsstation auf dem Säntis bei Sonnenuntergang
Observation station on top of Säntis Mountain © MeteoSchweiz

50 essential climate variables (ECVs) were defined within the scope of GCOS. They can be observed with currently available technological and scientific resources and are of major scientific importance. As an example, the observations comprise the air temperature, the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, the snow cover or the land use.

Swiss instritutions are operating for example

  • two stations of the GCOS Surface Network (GSN): Säntis and Grand St. Bernard
  • one station of the GCOS Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN): Payerne
  • one station of the Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN): Payerne
  • one station of the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) programme: Jungfraujoch
  • twelve hydrological stations as contribution to the Global Runoff Data Centre (GRDC)
  • the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) at the University of Zurich
  • the World Radiation Centre at the Physical Meteorological Observatory Davos (PMOD/WRC)
  • the World Calibration Centre for surface ozone, carbon monoxide, methane and carbon dioxide (WCC-Empa)
  • the GAW Quality Assurance/Scientific Activity Centre (QA/SAC Switzerland)

Observation systems

The climate is monitored with different measuring techniques. Until the 1970s, data were captured predominantly with ground-, balloon- or aircraft-borne instruments With the advances in international space travel, the number and quality of satellite-assisted observations have risen sharply in recent decades. They supplement the conventional observation systems and make a substantial contribution to the better understanding of the climate system.

Further information