National and international organisations are considering how to derive greater benefit from both operating and planned observing systems, in support of increasing applications of global Earth observations. This assessment is occurring in an environment that demands adoption of performance measures congruent with agency needs for continuous improvement. The Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and the International Group of Funding Agencies for global change research (IGFA), with other organisations, have initiated and participated in international discussions with the aim of outlining possible ways to improve the integration of global observation activities.
One of the prime drivers behind the current discussion is the general acceptance that no single nation can satisfy all of its observation requirements. The need for co-operation between data-provider agencies also arises from the fact that contemporary data products often require the integration of multiple observations from multiple sources. The scarcity of financial resources is yet another compelling reason for improved co-operation.
An Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) should be the joint product of all agencies involved in the collection and analysis of both space-based and in-situ data. For an IGOS to be successful, agencies must recognise and mutually support integration of the roles of partner organisations. Discussions on the concept of an IGOS have highlighted the need for better agency interactions, both at the national and the international level. A key characteristic will be the achievement of outcomes that are beyond the present capabilities of existing observing systems. An IGOS will provide an overarching strategy for observations to allow organisations involved in the collection of data to extend their contribution, and assist user groups requiring information from the systems to specify their requirements in a synergistic way. An IGOS must build upon the strategies of existing international global observation programs. It should also build upon current achievements, with additional efforts being directed to focus on those areas where satisfactory international arrangements and structures do not currently exist. A successful IGOS will help nations make better decisions in the allocation of resources to meet their own priorities, by taking advantage of better international collaboration and co-operation.
In discussions since late 1995, CEOS has appropriately focussed its attention on the space component of an IGOS. However, it recognises that an IGOS, by its very nature, must incorporate user requirements for all sources of Earth observation data. IGFA has recognised the importance of adequate spatial and temporal resolution in global observations for global change research to facilitate improvements to the prediction of global change and to the assessment of impacts and mitigation/adaptation strategies.
A key to the initiation of activities in support of the goals of an IGOS will be the commitment of agencies with responsibilities for space-based data acquisition programs to formulate a structured, coherent set of observational strategies, which transcend national requirements.
Integration of relevant non-space data should be a key element in an IGOS. A full partnership involving: (1) those international, regional and national organisations with responsibilities for providing in-situ observations; (2) space agencies; (3) science funding agencies; and (4) agencies with operational responsibilities is required.
The requirements definition for an IGOS must be user driven and address the political protocols and conventions, eg. IPCC and Agenda 21, as well as programmatic support for specific research and operational activities. The detailed products and services to be developed within the concept of an IGOS will be in response to requirements specified by user communities.
CEOS, IGFA, and others have identified
several high level attributes, or goals, that reflect the value of an
IGOS which, whilst applicable to space data, are also valid for many
aspects of non-space data:
IGFA has joined CEOS in a Strategic Implementation Team (SIT) to progress the development of an IGOS. As Affiliates of CEOS, a number of international scientific and intergovernmental user organisations, including the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), are also participating in SIT. The Team's primary purpose is to agree on and implement a work program supported by participating organisations that reflects their capabilities, strengths and objectives, whilst demonstrating the enhanced benefits to be gained through mutual co-operation in the planning and use of integrated global observations. The work of the SIT will set the framework for the implementation of the responsibilities of each of the participating agencies.
Acutely aware that the IGOS concept does not belong to any single nation, agency or organisation, CEOS and IGFA are proposing an expanded partnership to evolve ideas on the definition, characterisation and vision of an IGOS. In particular, it is noteworthy that the Sponsors of the Global Observing Systems (G3OS, i.e. GCOS, GOOS and GTOS) at their first meeting, 13-14 January 1997, discussed the elements and issues that should be included in an integrated global observing strategy as an umbrella for the three Observing Systems and other international observation activities. WCRP, IGBP and other science and operational entities also have key roles to play. Integrated global observing can succeed only through the development of a synergistic partnership amongst funding agencies responsible for the provision of space-based and in-situ observations, user organisations, and user communities.
As an outcome of its first meeting in Irvine, California February 1997, the SIT, in consultation with G3OS scientists, agreed to pursue six prototype projects of international dimension designed to demonstrate the accrued value of working within an IGOS framework. Appended is a listing of the projects, together with identified (to this date) provider and user participant organisations. While the initial projects vary greatly with regard to scope, they were selected on the basis of degree of political and societal importance, the feasibility of early and tangible accomplishments, the clear need for an integrated global strategic approach, and the existence of agencies willing to take the lead in developing a partnership.
The Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment, for example, builds upon a set of operational requirements well articulated within the global ocean community and is being developed as a high priority requirement of the GOOS/GCOS/WCRP Ocean Observations Panel for Climate. As a further example, the Upper Air Measurements Project was included in response to an invitation by the Director of the WMO World Weather Watch to the SIT. The project will investigate the planned reduction in upper-air observations due to the termination of the OMEGA navigational system, and the means to increase the quantity and quality of observations through the use of new technology from satellites, aircraft and 4D assimilation methods.
CEOS and IGFA now propose to advance on two fronts in implementing IGOS:
1. The SIT will refine and further develop the six prototype projects. The projects are proceeding through a series of workshops and are supported by the work program of the CEOS Analysis Group, in consultation with the Global Observing System Space Panel (GOSSP), of the G3OS. The status of the projects will be reviewed at the SIT meeting in Oxford, UK, in September 1997, and at the IGFA Plenary in October and the CEOS Plenary in November.
2. Extend the dialogue beyond CEOS and IGFA to develop the IGOS concept and associated prototype project activities in a partnership environment involving other organisations. To achieve full partnership it is important that international science and intergovernmental user organisations, in particular the G3OS and their sponsors, are involved in the process. This is planned to proceed as follows:
The CEOS and IGFA Chairmen have contacted senior officials of the G3OS and other science and user organisations to propose informal discussions on the IGOS concept with an invitation to become involved in planning an early 1998 senior-level IGOS Partners Meeting. Informal IGOS discussion has already taken place at the invitation of the FAO, in Rome mid-May, timed with a meeting of the GTOS Steering Committee. The CEOS Chair addressed the WMO Executive Council in Geneva in mid-June on the topic of an IGOS. A further informal discussion occurred late June in Paris, hosted by GOOS/IOC and ICSU. An informal discussion amongst prospective IGOS partners was also arranged in Paris by the CEOS Chair for late June. A further opportunity to develop the partnership concept will occur in mid-September at a UNEP-hosted meeting of the G3OS Sponsors Group in Geneva.
The CEOS and IGFA Chairmen propose the creation of an informal planning group to organise a senior-level IGOS Partners Meeting for early 1998. The planning group will examine various models for the joint development of an IGOS, including expansion of the SIT to involve senior representatives from the G30S, their sponsoring organisations, WCRP, IGBP, and other appropriate organisations.
Representatives at the 1998 IGOS Partners Meeting should be at a suitably senior (Principal) level with authority to forge a strategic approach for integrated planning which links research and operational activities, as well as space and in-situ observations. Representatives should also be conversant with, and be able to provide a connection to, highly visible global and regional environmental action agendas (e.g. IPCC, G7, FCCC) to enhance the relevance of an IGOS in support of these activities. It is not the intention to set up a new body, but to facilitate coordination in decision making processes. Benefits of cooperation will be expressed through enhanced integration within the IGOS concept in the execution of their responsibilities.
The IGOS Partners Meeting should facilitate planning of funding agency support for integrated space and in-situ activities, as well as support for the realisation of the three global observing systems through concerted funding.
Initial IGOS Implementation Projects Summary
GLOBAL OCEAN DATA ASSIMILATION EXPERIMENT
Issue: Need an integrated suite of remote (and direct) measurements of the ocean for real-time assimilation, interpretation, and application. The project will provide a regular, global depiction of the ocean circulation, from climate down to ocean eddy scales, consistent with the measurements and appropriate dynamical and physical constraints.
Tools Needed: Real-time satellite data stream; global in-situ observing system; assimilation to exploit integrated data stream; models and computer for production and output; high band-width communications
Partners: GOOS/GCOS/WCRP OOPC, CNES, ESA, NASA, EUMETSAT, NOAA, NASDA
Products/Results: Global analyses/forecasts based on limited models, data streams; global products at reduced resolution (time and space); global hindcasts based on past remote sensing & in-situ data; global eddy-resolving analyses with reduced physics, dynamics, assimilation; some regional analyses/forecasts based on enhanced data, models.
UPPER AIR MEASUREMENTS
Issue: Ground-based radiosonde observations and omega sondes are being reduced and could impact numerical weather prediction models.
Tools Needed: In-situ and satellite data of tropospheric winds and profiles of temperature and specific humidity.
Partners: WMO, NOAA, EC , ESA, NASA, CNES, EUMETSAT, ECMWF
Products/Results: New/improved satellite-derived products assimilated into operational models
LONG-TERM CONTINUITY OF OZONE MEASUREMENTS
Issue: No long-term strategy for continuity of stratospheric ozone observations.
Tools Needed: Space and ground-based measurements of total ozone and vertical profiles. Ground-based measurements of both ozone and spectrally resolved surface UV. Space-based full daily global coverage total ozone; vertical profiles of ozone, other species, temperature
Partners: WMO/IPCC, ESA, NASA, EUMETSAT, CNES, NOAA, NASDA, ASI, CSA/AES
Products/Results: Commitment by identified agencies to long-term total ozone and ozone vertical profile measurements and data exchange.
GLOBAL OBSERVATION OF FOREST COVER
Issue: Monitoring of forest cover and its changes is essential to a variety of issues, including land cover change, biodiversity, renewable energy resources. There is no systematic plan for routine acquisition and analysis of data on global forest cover from optical and microwave satellites.
Tools Needed: optical and microwave imaging satellites (already in existence and planned); acquisition stations & processing facilities
Partners: GCOS/GTOS TOPC, IGBP LUCC, FAO, CSA/CCRS, INPE, ESA, EC, NASA, CNES, EUMETSAT, ASI, NASDA, NOAA
Products/Results: Database of georeferenced high resolution data with periodic systematic coverage of all forested areas globally; periodic analysis of change on regional and global scale
LONG-TERM OCEAN BIOLOGY MEASUREMENTS
Issue: Multiple ocean colour sensors in operation and planned; need coordinated strategy to support data needs for scientific studies of ocean biogeochemical and ecosystem processes.
Tools Needed: satellite & in-situ observations; coordinated cal/val campaign
Partners: GOOS, IOC, NASDA, NASA, CSA, EC, ESA, NOAA, CNES, WGISS, WGCV
Products/Results: Internationally coordinated calibration/validation program to understand regional influences and variations in the ocean environment; integrated database with in-situ and satellite data; multi-sensor data streams and products
DISASTER MANAGEMENT SUPPORT
Issue: Earth observation satellite data is not being fully utilised to support disaster prediction, monitoring, and mitigation on a worldwide basis.
Tools Needed: Information systems to locate, acquire, reformat as necessary, and deliver Earth observation satellite data products rapidly to emergency response authorities; improved understanding of the requirements of emergency response authorities
Partners: NOAA, EC, ESA, BNSC, ASI, STA/NASDA, NASA, CSA, CNES, WGISS, CCRS, Council of Europe, DARA, ESCAP, EUMETSAT, GTOS, IDNDR, INPE, RPA PLANETA, WCRP, WMO
Products/Results: Work with subset of agencies with broad geographic responsibility to develop an initial requirements and capabilities profile for the contribution of EO satellite data and to implement a capabilities demonstration.