92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Thursday, 26 January 2012: 11:00 AM
Progress on Developing an Architecture for Climate Monitoring from Space (invited)
Room 242 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Barbara J. Ryan, Group on Earth Observations Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland; and M. Dowell

The effort to develop an architecture for climate monitoring from space grew out of the recognition that satellites are playing an increasingly important role in monitoring climate and climate change, yet there currently exists no international agreement for a space-based architecture for climate monitoring. Support for pursing a dedicated, collaborative, developmental approach followed technical discussions held within the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), presentations at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) 2011 Annual Meeting, Plenary meetings of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS), and Side Events at the AMS 2011 Annual Meeting, as well as, the Sixty-Second Session of the WMO Executive Council (EC-LXII) and the Sixteenth Session of the WMO Congress (Cg-XVI).

During 2011, an Architecture Writing Team, comprised of representatives from CEOS, CGMS and WMO, developed a report titled, “Strategy Towards an Architecture for Climate Monitoring from Space”. This report, reviewed by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) is currently in review by space agencies and participating organizations of CEOS and CGMS. As the title implies, the report describes a strategy, including the identification of relevant components required for an architecture, rather than the design of an architecture itself. Climate monitoring principals, requirements and guidelines, a description of the state of the art, a definition of what is meant by “climate architecture”, mechanisms for interaction, a roadmap for the way forward, and of most interest for this session, a chapter titled, “Beyond Research to Operations”, are presented in the report.

As the phrase, Research to Operations (R2O), has been historically used to describe the change in organizational responsibility (and usually funding) for a particular sensor and/or mission from one agency to another, the climate community is finding the concept, or at least implementation of the concept, to be lacking. Climate record processing requires a sustained expert understanding of new and legacy climate sensors, as well as a sustained web of support activities. This web requires the concerted and sustained effort of both research and operational agencies. So, in some circles, the phrase, Research and Operations (R&O) is starting to emerge as a better way to characterize, and meet the demands of long-term, sustained monitoring of the climate system. This holistic view of the interplay between research and operational space agencies in sustained and routine climate monitoring will involve continuous improvement in capabilities and knowledge over the long run. It is clear that much progress has been made by both research and development and operational space agencies to better monitor and understand the Earth's climate and climate variability, but more needs to be done to ensure long-term, sustained observations over the time scales that are important for climate studies.

As we look at the space-based component of the WMO Global Observing System (GOS), it has been an outgrowth of an evolutionary process, spanning 50 years or more, that has been driven by a combination of identifying and articulating user requirements, international agreements, and technical coordination mechanisms dealing with contingency planning, inter-calibration of observations and data exchange. Each of these components (and more) will be required for the development and implementation of an architecture for climate monitoring from space. Building on the predominantly weather-monitoring architecture, a broader strategy (and architecture) must be pursued for climate monitoring. The efforts of the Architecture Writing Team members and their parent organizations have most certainly advanced the debate and discussion for the development of an architecture for climate monitoring from space. Let's hope that we can continue to leverage investments made by both research and development and operational agencies (and their coordination mechanisms) so that climate observations from space are coordinated, shared and sustained into the future. It is time that the rigor which has comprised global weather observations, research, modeling and forecasts through international agreements, and a supporting space-based architecture be brought to climate monitoring from space.

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