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Challenges of a Sustained Climate Observing System

  • Kevin E. TrenberthEmail author
  • Richard A. Anthes
  • Alan Belward
  • Otis B. Brown
  • Ted Habermann
  • Thomas R. Karl
  • Steve Running
  • Barbara Ryan
  • Michael Tanner
  • Bruce Wielicki
Chapter

Abstract

Observations of planet Earth and especially all climate system components and forcings are increasingly needed for planning and informed decision making related to climate services in the broadest sense. Although significant progress has been made, much more remains to be done before a fully functional and dependable climate observing system exists. Observations are needed on spatial scales from local to global, and all time scales, especially to understand and document changes in extreme events. Climate change caused by human activities adds a new dimension and a vital imperative: to acquire climate observations of sufficient quality and coverage, and analyze them into products for multiple purposes to inform decisions for mitigation, adaptation, assessing vulnerability and impacts, possible geo-engineering, and predicting climate variability and change and their consequences. A major challenge is to adequately deal with the continually changing observing system, especially from satellites and other remote sensing platforms such as in the ocean, in order to provide a continuous climate record. Even with new computational tools, challenges remain to provide adequate analysis, processing, meta-data, archival, access, and management of the resulting data and the data products. As volumes of data continue to grow, so do the challenges of distilling information to allow us to understand what is happening and why, and what the implications are for the future. The case is compelling that prompt coordinated international actions are essential to provide for information-based actions and decisions related to climate variability and change.

Keywords

Climate observing system Satellite observations Climate change Data processing Earth observations Metadata Climate data records 

Acronyms

ALOS

Advanced Land Observing Satellite

ADEOS

Advanced Earth Observing Satellite

AIRS

Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

AR4

Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC)

ATMS

Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder

BSRN

Baseline Surface Radiation Network

CCSP

Climate Change System Program

CDR

Climate Data Record

CEOS

Committee on Earth Observation Satellites

CERES

Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System

CF

Climate and Forecast

CGMS

Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites

CLARREO

Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory

COSMIC

Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate

CrIS

Crosstrack Infrared Sounder

DESDynl

Deformation, Ecosystem Structure, and Dynamics of Ice

DoD

Department of Defense

EarthCARE

Earth, Cloud, Aerosol, Radiation and Energy

ECMWF

European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts

ECV

Essential Climate Variable

ENSO

El Niño-Southern Oscillation

EOS

Earth Observing System

ERA

ECMWF Re-Analysis

ESA

European Space Agency

EUMETSAT

European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites

FAPAR

Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation

GAW

Global Atmospheric Watch

GCOM

Global Change Observation Mission (JAXA)

GCOS

Global Climate Observing System

GCMPs

GCOS Climate Monitoring Principles

GEO

Group on Earth Observations

GEOSS

Global Earth Observation System of Systems

GEWEX

Global Energy and Water Exchanges (WCRP)

GFCS

Global Framework for Climate Services

GMES

Global Monitoring for Environment and Security

GNSS

Global Navigation Satellite System

GOES

Geosynchronous Operational Environmental Satellite

GOOS

Global Ocean Observing System

GOS

Global Observing System

GOSAT

Greenhouse Gases Observation Satellite (JAXA)

GPM

Global Precipitation Mission

GPS

Global Positioning System

GRUAN

GCOS Reference Upper-Air Network

GSICS

Global Space-based Intercalibration System

GTOS

Global Terrestrial Observing System

ICESAT

Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite

ICSU

International Council for Science

IGBP

International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme

IGDDS

WMO Integrated Global Data Dissemination Service

IOC

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

IPCC

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

JAXA

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

JMA

Japanese Meteorological Agency

JPSS

Joint Polar Satellite System

LAI

Leaf Area Index

MERIS

Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer

MERRA

Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications

MODIS

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer (NASA)

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NCAR

National Center for Atmospheric Research

NCDC

National Climatic Data Center (NOAA)

NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NPOESS

National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System

NPP

NPOESS Preparatory Project

NRC

National Research Council (USA)

NWP

Numerical Weather Prediction

OCO

Orbiting Carbon Observatory

OMPS

Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite

OSE

Observing System Experiment

OSSE

Observing System Simulation Experiment

REDD

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

SAPS

Synthesis and Assessment Products

SBSTA

Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice

SCOPE-CM

Sustained Co-Ordinated Processing of Environmental satellite data for Climate Monitoring

SI

International System of units (Système International)

SMAP

Soil Moisture Active/Passive

SOC

State of Climate

TOA

Top of Atmosphere

TRUTHS

Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio-Studies

UNEP

United Nations Environment Programme

UNFCCC

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

USGCRP

United States Global Change Research Program

VIIRS

Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite

WCC-3

World Climate Conference-3

WCRP

World Climate Research Programme

WDAC

WCRP Data Advisory Council

WG

Working Group

WMO

World Meteorological Organization

WOAP

WCRP Observation and Assimilation Panel

Notes

Acknowledgments 

We thank Adrian Simmons for substantial comments and suggestions. The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin E. Trenberth
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard A. Anthes
    • 2
  • Alan Belward
    • 3
  • Otis B. Brown
    • 4
    • 5
  • Ted Habermann
    • 6
  • Thomas R. Karl
    • 6
  • Steve Running
    • 7
  • Barbara Ryan
    • 8
  • Michael Tanner
    • 6
  • Bruce Wielicki
    • 9
  1. 1.Climate and Global DynamicsNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  2. 2.University Corporation for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Environment and SustainabilityJoint Research Centre of the European Commission, Joint Research CentreIspraItaly
  4. 4.Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites – North Carolina (CICS-NC)North Carolina State UniversityAshevilleUSA
  5. 5.NOAA’s National Climatic Data CenterAshevilleUSA
  6. 6.National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), NOAABoulderUSA
  7. 7.Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group (NTSG), CHCB room 428The University of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  8. 8.GEO SecretariatGeneva 2Switzerland
  9. 9.NASA Langley Research CenterHamptonUSA

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