Overview of Earth Observations

Submitted by Cathy.Smith@noaa.gov on Thu, 10/07/2010 - 14:21

Global Observing Systems Information Center (GOSIC)  provides convenient, central, one-stop access to data and information identified by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) and their partner programs, such as the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) and regional observing systems, such as the GOOS Regional Alliances (GRA). Datasets can be searched by Essential Climate Variable and other methods.


The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is coordinating efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS.

GEO was launched in response to calls for action by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and by the G8 (Group of Eight) leading industrialized countries. These high-level meetings recognized that international collaboration is essential for exploiting the growing potential of Earth observations to support decision making in an increasingly complex and environmentally stressed world.

GEO is a voluntary partnership of governments and international organizations. It provides a framework within which these partners can develop new projects and coordinate their strategies and investments. As of March 2012, GEO’s Members include 88 Governments and the European Commission. In addition, 64 intergovernmental, international, and regional organizations with a mandate in Earth observation or related issues have been recognized as Participating Organizations.

The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is a joint undertaking of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Council for Science (ICSU). Its goal is to provide comprehensive information on the total climate system, involving a multidisciplinary range of physical, chemical and biological properties, and atmospheric, oceanic, hydrological, cryospheric and terrestrial processes. It is built on the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS), the IOC-WMO-UNEP-ICSU Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-UNEP-UNESCO-ICSU Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) and a number of other domain-based and cross-domain research and operational observing systems. It includes both in situ and remote sensing components, with its space based components coordinated by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites (CGMS). GCOS is intended to meet the full range of national and international requirements for climate and climate-related observations. As a system of climate-relevant observing systems, it constitutes, in aggregate, the climate observing component of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). 

Pages on Reanalyses.org provide access to areas related to


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Gil Compo encouraged me to post a note about Ameriflux and Fluxnet. Nearly 500 sites have run for anywhere for the past several to past 20 years monitoring near surface meteorology (T, RH, P, Precip), surface energy (H, LE) and carbon fluxes, soil properties (T and Q), and radiative fluxes. Because Fluxnet is a "cooperative" of independent sites, there is large variance in types of variables, instruments used, calibration protocols across networks. Still significant effort has gone into make this as interoperable as possible. Most of these data are now freely available, though it is encouraged to contact PIs of running sites to clarify any issues with data quality or site specific considerations. Ameriflux observations are now funded under a Dept of Energy core site facility model, which requires free access and frequent updating for most sites. These sites can be downloaded via http://ameriflux.lbl.gov/

Most useful for this group is the new Fluxnet2015 release, a harmonized global flux tower product, just released in early January 2016, with an update planned in April and December 2016. The new Fluxnet data release has a more open data policy, more consistent naming convention, and better job at detection of trends, energy balance closure, identification of QA/QC flags, gap filling, and uncertainty estimation. These can be downloaded at http://fluxnet.fluxdata.org/data/fluxnet2015-dataset/ After creating an account, all the data can be downloaded by making a web request, which sends a link to an FTP server.

I am happy to help be a conduit to any Ameriflux or Fluxnet datasets or help with understanding any issues you see in those. I run a set of 4 Ameriflux core forest/wetland sites in N Wisconsin/Michigan and 1 lake site in Madison, WI, including the Park Falls very tall tower with temperature and humidity profiles to 400 m. We provide fluxes and meteorology profiles nightly (near real-time) along with lots of ancillary data (sap-flow, soil profiles, vegetation inventories, leaf chemistry) and so on at: http://flux.aos.wisc.edu/twiki/bin/view/Main/ChEASData

Thanks. -ankur desai, UW-Madison, desai@aos.wisc.edu

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