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The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS)—Building on the Past for a Better Future

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Monday, 24 January 2011: 11:00 AM
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS)—Building on the Past for a Better Future
2B (Washington State Convention Center)
Wenjian Zhang, WMO, Geneva, Switzerland; and B. J. Ryan and I. Zahumensky

Since its establishment 60 years ago as a United Nations Specialized Agency, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has advanced the observing and monitoring of the Earth's weather, water and climate systems. These advancements have led to a better understanding of the Earth's environment as well as improved and expanded services in these topical areas – services which extend across timescales from severe weather warnings to weekly forecasts to seasonal climate predictions. Yet, an increasingly sophisticated user community coupled with an increased knowledge of the planet as an integrated system has resulted in the need for more extensive and advanced information from WMO. The WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS) is a response to this call.

WIGOS will build upon the existing observing components of the World Weather Watch (WWW) and its Global Observing System (GOS), the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW), and the World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHyCOS). In each of these systems, as well as across the systems, there are surface, airborne and space-based observations which require enhanced integration. Heretofore, as in many, if not most organizations, development efforts have progressed programme by programme, often resulting in different standards for data collection and data distribution functions. WIGOS will establish an integrated, comprehensive and coordinated observing system that aims to address, in the most cost-effective and sustained manner, the evolving observing requirements of WMO Members for weather, climate, water and related environmental services.

Since the last WMO Congress (2007), a number of pilot (thematic) and demonstration (geographic) projects have been undertaken to test development and implementation aspects of WIGOS. These projects have focused on improving dissemination and integration of selected data sets, increasing collaboration across WMO Technical Commissions, and strengthening selected aspects of observational networks in Australia, Brazil, Kenya, Morocco, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States. Extensive documentation for WIGOS including a concept of operations, a development and implementation strategy, and an implementation plan have been prepared in advance of the upcoming WMO Congress (2011) where final approval will be sought.

Every day National Meteorological and Hydrological Services around the world collectively measure the atmosphere, land surface and oceans through more than 10,000 surface weather stations, more than 1000 upper-air stations, some 3000 commercial aircraft, more than 1000 ships, 1000 drifting ocean buoys, 3000 ocean profiling floats, hundreds of weather radars and a robust constellation of satellites. WIGOS is a strategic initiative intended to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of these various observation networks, and services derived from these networks, so that national and international investments are leveraged to the greatest extent possible resulting in improved decision making at multiple levels. In that regard, linkages with development and implementation efforts of both the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) are also being made.