The Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate (AOPC) was established by the GCOS Steering Committee in recognition of the need for specific scientific and technical input concerning atmospheric observations for climate.
The Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme, recognizing the benefits of the AOPC, agreed in 1995 to co-sponsor the panel, which was thereafter renamed the GCOS/WCRP Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate.
The GCOS Surface Reference Network (GSRN) when fully implemented will deliver the reference component of the tiered system for surface observations, filling a gap that has been known to exist for many years. The GSRN represents the surface equivalent of the GCOS Upper Air Reference Network (GRUAN). A task team (GSRN TT) was established in November 2020 by the WMO commission for Infrastructure (INFCOM-1). It will be responsible for the initial implementation of the GSRN and will undertake the necessary activities to instigate the network.
Reference quality observations, such as those provided by GRUAN and planned for GSRN, respond to the need for monitoring the changes that occur in the climate and ensure greater confidence in the assessment of future climate change and variability, by reducing or eliminating the remaining uncertainties regarding the causes, effects, magnitude and timing of climate change. The GSRN will also support timely political decisions around adaptation and will help to monitor and quantify the effectiveness of internationally agreed mitigation steps. In addition, improved observational understanding and better methods of observation will lead to improvements in numerical weather prediction and disaster and emergency response systems, support to cal/val for satellite observations, climate process understanding and model validation.
The initial GSRN will provide sustained reference quality observations, with full traceability and fully defined uncertainty, on a global scale (on land) of at least the ECVs surface temperature and precipitation. It will also ensure a free and open access archive of accredited GSRN data products. Operational procedures and practices for knowledge transfer and capacity building will be defined and published and a GSRN affiliated research facility will be established to deliver scientific advances in measurement techniques and to improve knowledge on climate reference data and instrumentation. Observations of additional ECVs will be added as the GSRN evolves in the future.
The success of the implementation of a surface reference network strongly depends on the establishment of a Lead Centre sufficiently resourced and empowered to manage the rollout of such a global network. The Lead Centre is responsible for managing the implementation and operation of GSRN, including the coordination, certification, monitoring and evaluation of observation stations. The GSRN Lead Centre is hosted by the Chinese Meteorological Administration (CMA).