PROGRAM TITLE:	Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)
ACTIVITY STREAM:	Observations/Data Management (Observation)
SCIENCE ELEMENT:	Climate and Hydrologic Systems; Biogeochemical 
Dynamics; Ecological System and Dynamics; and Solar Influence.


DESCRIPTION:  The April 1993 Draft Plan for the Global Climate Observing 
System (GCOS) notes that "Systematic and comprehensive global 
observations will lay the foundation for improving our capabilities for 
climate change detection and prediction of climate variability."  As currently 
envisioned, GCOS will be established to "meet the scientific requirements for 
monitoring the climate, detecting climate change, and for predicting climate 
variations and change."  NOAA, as the CEES agency charged with operational 
ocean-atmosphere observing responsibilities, has a critical role to play in the 
implementation of an effective Global Climate Observing System.  NOAA's 
USGCRP contributions to GCOS can be summarized as follows:  (i) a program 
of long-term ocean  observations, with an emphasis on in situ measurements 
of key ocean-climate parameters in support of the ocean component of GCOS, 
the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS);  (ii) the development, validation 
and implementation of high-quality, climate-relevant data products derived 
from operational meteorological satellite measurements and National 
Weather Service observing systems; (iii) the development and interpretation 
of long-term records of solar variability;  and (iv) a focused R&D program 
aimed at developing and testing new ocean-atmosphere measurement 
systems and techniques.  The GCOS Draft Plan identifies the critical 
observational tasks associated with support for seasonal to interannual 
climate prediction as one of the first priorities and in FY 1995, NOAA 
proposes to establish the current TOGA research observing system as a 
permanent element of a long-term global observing program in support of 
routine predictions of El Nino events and their seasonal to interannual 
climate implications.  Reconstruction of the long-term climate record will 
continue by assembling and quality controlling major data records, including 
precipitation and surface and subsurface ocean parameters, from global upper 
air observations and global surface meteorological stations.  The primary 
objective of the operational measurements element of NOAA's Global 
Climate Observing System is the development, validation and 
implementation of high-quality global climate data products from the U.S. 
operational satellite and in-situ observing systems.  This element currently 
supports research and development in water vapor, clouds, precipitation, 
aerosols, atmospheric and surface radiation budgets, ozone, atmospheric 
temperature structure, sea surface temperature, ocean surface  winds, ocean 
data analysis, atmospheric and oceanic circulation, vegetation, soil moisture 
and land surface temperature.  In addition to providing products for climate 
applications, activities provide correlative in-situ data such as surface 
radiation, aerosol and precipitation measurements.

STAKEHOLDERS:  The Global Climate Observing System is being proposed 
jointly by the WMO, ICSU, UNEP, and UNESCO.  NOAA's contribution to 
the Global Climate Observing System directly supports national and 
international science programs including the IGBP and WCRP GEWEX 
activities (such as BSRN, ISCCP, ISLSCP, GVap, GCIP, and GPCP)  and the 
NOAA/NASA Pathfinder project.  Continuation of the TOGA Tropical 
Atmosphere-Ocean Array  is vital to the proposed ENSO prediction activities 
to be conducted as part of the IRICP in support of CLIVAR/GOALS.  The 
construction of long-term climate records are an essential ingredient to 
analyses which detect global climate change.  Before EOS, NOAA's program is 
providing the only major global observations required now for 
understanding, modeling,and predicting the environment.

SHORT-TERM POLICY PAYOFFS:  The GCOS Draft Plan notes that 
comprehensive global observations, when integrated into numerical models 
of the climate system, will "provide immediate benefits to society in the form 
of improved short-term forecasts of climate" and "long-term benefits in 
providing a deeper understanding of the planet."  In this latter category, 
initial priority would be focused on the early detection of climate trends and 
climate change due to human activities and support for scientific programs 
aimed at reducing major uncertainties in climate prediction.  The long-term, 
reliable observational record provided by NOAA's contributions to GCOS are 
essential components of:  (i) seasonal to interannual climate forecasting to 
address today's public safety and economic decisionmaking in areas such as 
agriculture, energy, transportation, water resource management, and disaster 
preparedness; (ii) U.S. contributions to the IPCC; and (iii) assessments of 
observed and anticipated climate change in support of national and 
international decisions on implementation of the Framework Convention 
on Climate Change on the President's Earth Day commitment to stabilize U.S. 
greenhouse gas emissions.  A comprehensive long-term observationprogram 
such as proposed by NOAA minimizes uncertainties and potential for 
surprises.  All of the global change findings have been observed or confirmed 
through an observed data set.

PROGRAM CONTACT:  Gregory W. Withee, Deputy Assistant Administrator 
for Environmental Information Services, NOAA/NESDIS, FB 4, Room 2069, 
Washington, DC  20233, 301/763-7190, FAX301/763-4011, Omnet:  G.Withee.

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