CEOS Development Environment


The CEOS/CGMS Working Group on Climate

The WGClimate, established in 2010, is the centre-piece of CEOS’ contribution to climate change monitoring. This group, a joint group including CEOS Agencies and the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellite (CGMS), coordinates and encourages collaborative activities between the world’s major space agencies in the area of climate monitoring with the overarching goal to improve the systematic availability of Climate Data Records through the coordinated implementation and further development of a global architecture for climate monitoring from space.

WGClimate facilitates the implementation and exploitation of Essential Climate Variable (ECV) time-series through coordination of the existing and substantial activities undertaken by CEOS Agencies and via strong collaboration with other CEOS Working Groups and Virtual Constellations.

The WGClimate Terms of Reference provide more detail on its strategy and efforts.


The proposal for this group resulted from the efforts of a CEOS ad hoc Climate Advisory Group that was established in April, 2010 at the 25th Meeting of the CEOS Strategic Implementation Team in Tokyo, Japan. Stephen Briggs (European Space Agency, ESA) reported at Plenary on the process undertaken in 2010, which resulted in a proposal for CEOS to establish a standing Working Group on Climate (WGClimate). This proposal was subsequently endorsed at the 24th Plenary in 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where CEOS agreed to create a new Working Group on Climate to coordinate and encourage collaborative activities between the world’s major space agencies in the area of climate monitoring.

For the initial period of this new Working Group, Mark Dowell (European Commission Joint Research Centre, EC/JRC) agreed to be the Chair, and John Bates (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA) agreed to be the Vice-Chair.

The mandate of this new Working Group was to facilitate the implementation and exploitation of Essential Climate Variable time-series through coordination of the existing and substantial activities undertaken by CEOS member agencies. In addressing this goal, the WGClimate reviews and assesses, on behalf of CEOS, the generation of Fundamental Climate Data Records (FCDRs) and derived Essential Climate Variable (ECV) climate products supported by CEOS Agencies. WGClimate also contributes to the review of compliance of satellite missions and products with the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Climate Monitoring Principles and with the “Guideline for the Generation of Datasets and Products meeting GCOS Requirements”. It also identifies multi-agency implementation teams for each product, reviews their actions, and ensures that a coherent implementation plan exists for each and every product. In defining these implementation plans, WGClimate takes full account of other pertinent international initiatives such as Sustained, Coordinated Processing of Environmental Satellite Data for Climate Monitoring (SCOPE-CM).

WGClimate also provides guidance to CEOS regarding climate-related Tasks in the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Work Plan. In part, this is accomplished by reviewing relevant reports prepared by the Climate Societal Benefit Area (SBA) lead on behalf of the CEOS Plenary. These reports include the update of documents such as the CEOS Response to GCOS requirements and the update of reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (UNFCCC/SBSTA) on CEOS climate actions. The WGClimate also supports the work of GCOS in defining and delivering the ECVs required by the UNFCCC and supports the overall relation of CEOS to the UNFCCC, its subsidiary bodies, and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In addressing the tasks described above, WGClimate has undertaken an analysis, addressing each ECV in turn, of the extent to which the current status of production of satellite climate records meets the GCOS requirements, including an analysis of the consistency of ECV definitions. WGClimate also works with the CEOS Virtual Constellations, which include the specific expertise on a number of ECVs, to ensure a coherent and consistent approach to the provision of climate records across their various topical areas.

Additionally, and in line with overarching CEOS principles such as data democracy, the WGClimate promotes openness, traceability, and access to climate data, codes, and products. Specifically this facilitates the inter-comparison of model outputs with data by identifying a subset of parameters key to the IPCC needs and encourages providers to deliver the necessary data in the required form.

In maintaining a strong scientific basis to the products and time-series promoted by WGClimate, strong interactions with Science programs such as the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) assist in enabling their analysis. Finally, the WG should pays utmost attention to the quality control and uncertainty assessment of the resulting products. WGClimate builds on the work of the CEOS Working Group on Calibration and Validation (WGCV), the Global Space-based Inter-Calibration System (GSICS), and the WGCV’s Quality Assurance Framework for Earth Observations (QA4EO) initiative to support the calibration and validation underpinning the production of climate data records. The group also coordinates with existing in situ networks to integrate complementary measurements and observations. WGClimate also maintains strong collaboration with the CEOS Climate SBA, the CEOS Working Groups, and the CEOS Virtual Constellations.

The 1st year of work for the WGClimate included: a CEOS Agency ECV meta-analysis to identify the current capability for producing ECVs that would also be used as the basis to identify multi-agency teams for each ECV; a second activity that addressed linkages to the IPCC modeling community to facilitate the inter-comparison of model outputs and data; and finally, the development of an ECV-by-ECV implementation strategy.