27 July 1999
I. Introduction
II. Identification of themes
III. Criteria for future IGOS activities
IV. Initial work
V. Modus operandi for establishing teams
VI. Theme team objectives
VII. Expected output of teams
VIII. Conclusion

Paper developed by the Chairman of CEOS following the meeting in Rome, 8 June 1999



The set of Pilot Projects initiated by CEOS has proved useful in defining an IGOS, particularly its space component, but there is a danger that trying to implement IGOS solely through the continuation of projects would lead to a patchwork coverage as projects provide inputs with regard to requirements, not necessarily an integrated response on what is needed. With the advent of the IGOS Partnership in June 1998, it was deemed necessary to broaden IGOS to include the observing activities of all Partners. At the 2nd IGOS Partnership meeting in Bangalore in November 1998, a task force was created to identify selected criteria for IGOS activities. As a result of much previous discussion, it was suggested at the 12th CEOS Plenary in Bangalore (with other IGOS Partners present) that the concept of "themes" would provide a more coherent focus for the definition and implementation of an IGOS. In proposing this new focus, it was recognised that pursuing projects and other activities remains important in obtaining user requirements against very specific objectives.

The CEOS Plenary accepted this in principle, and the topic was discussed at more length at a meeting of the 4th CEOS Strategic Implementation Team (SIT) held in La Jolla in January, 1999 (SIT 4). The Chairman of CEOS agreed at this meeting to produce a new paper which, after consultation with the Chairman of SIT and the Chairman of GOSSP, would be shared with IGOS Partners in advance of the 3rd IGOS Partners meeting in Rome in June, 1999. This new paper identified themes.

Underlying this themes approach is an acceptance that:

an IGOS cannot be expected to cover all the ground at once - there must be priorities;

the priorities must take account not only of the requirements of the international programmes, but also those of national and regional programmes, and must be sensitive to major issues connected with international conventions;

an IGOS must exploit what already exists and seek to improve it incrementally;

the definition and inclusion of in-situ requirements are vital to this process (for example, for the calibration and validation of space data).

The Chairman of GOSSP, in a presentation to the Steering Committee meeting of GCOS in Geneva in February 1999, sought endorsement for this thematic approach to IGOS. The discussion agreed an initial set of themes. The GCOS meeting stressed the need to ensure that overlap or duplication was dealt with in the analysis.

The 3rd IGOS Partnership meeting in June, 1999, also accepted the recommendations of the task force appointed at the 2nd Partnership meeting, chaired by Dr. Ghassem Asrar, on the criteria for the selection and evaluation of future IGOS activities. These criteria naturally apply to themes, and are included in this revision.

This revised paper takes into account these recent meetings, as well as the comments received at the 3rd IGOS Partnership meeting held on 8 June 1999. It is intended to provide a basis for further agreement and work within the IGOS Partnership and, as such, will be presented at the 4th IGOS Partnership meeting, to be held in Stockholm in November 1999. In particular the paper discusses

identification of indicative themes and those being initiated immediately;

the criteria for future IGOS activities;

the modus operandi for establishing the theme teams;

the objectives to be given to the teams;

the expected output of such teams.


Resources are limited, and it makes good sense to make an early start in those areas where there is

a visible political will to use global observations (in pursuit, for example, of the commitments made under the Framework Convention on Climate Change); and/or

already a strong federating tendency, and preferably both.

On the basis of inputs from the GCOS Steering Committee and from other Partners, a first indicative list of themes is:

a Oceans;

b Terrestrial - initially Estimation of Global Net Primary Production (NPP);

c Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate;

d Weather Prediction (this is assumed to be covered by ongoing WMO activities);

e Coastal Areas;

f Disaster Management;

g Carbon Cycle - initially Carbon sinks: global mapping & monitoring;

h Climate Impacts and Climate Variability & Change;

i Water Cycle.

This initial list is not free from overlap or omission, and it is intended to be illustrative rather than prescriptive. Partners can add to the list from time to time, and it should be regularly up-dated. Clearly, however, resources will not be available to start work on all the identified themes immediately and the precise scope of each selected theme will need to be established with the full participation of the theme team..


The following five criteria should be used in the development and selection of proposed themes by the Partnership as well as in the evaluation of the activities and their eventual sunsetting.
For new IGOS themes it is recommended that a lead organisation and potential partners draft proposals, clearly addressing the criteria below, for submission to the IGOS Partnership. The following five criteria, along with the proposals, will be used in the evaluation of the activities and their eventual sunsetting by the IGOS Partnership. After submission of proposals, the IGOS Partnership will make an evaluation, and will endorse those themes it believes are likely to assist in the continuing development of IGOS. After endorsement by the IGOS Partnership, it is recommended that the theme team make a short status report at subsequent IGOS-P meetings. To qualify for selection, in addition to meeting the following criteria, a candidate theme will need to demonstrate its timeliness as well as an assurance of sufficient support to produce significant near-term benefits, and preferably submission of a final report with recommendations, within a year of selection. The theme teams are not intended to be long-standing bodies, rather the integrators and presenters of recommendations for implementation (see sections V and VI below).

The IGOS Partnership may itself oversee the development of these new themes, or decide to turn that function over to another body (SIT or some other group). The theme proposals will then be used by the oversight body as a basis on which to evaluate the progress of newly selected themes, to implement them and to sunset them.

1. Objectives: Theme objectives must be clearly defined and focused. Is the theme focused on applications, operational needs or research, or a combination of these? Themes may have any focus, but it must be understood up-front which areas the theme is envisioned to coordinate and optimize. Some themes may have an existence outside their role within IGOS (i.e., they existed before being brought into the IGOS framework and/or may continue after contributing to IGOS). In these cases it is important to have an understanding of the general objectives outside of IGOS, and the specific objectives to be accomplished as IGOS activities. The remaining selection and evaluation criteria should be used to assess only the IGOS portions of themes.

2. Roles and Responsibilities: The partnership roles and responsibilities between users and providers must be clearly defined in considerable detail after appropriate consultations. This should entail a specific listing of what each space agency and user organisation commits to contribute to the implementation of the theme. The listing should cover all aspects of the theme. Development of stronger and more formal institutional collaboration between partner organisations is essential.

3. Milestones: Major milestones from theme initiation to completion must be clearly identified with concrete dates specified. The specific results or outputs that constitute completion of the IGOS task must be specified so that the end-point when a theme has successfully completed its role as an IGOS theme will be clear.

4. Evaluation criteria: Performance criteria for evaluation of a themeís progress must be defined for each milestone. In order to evaluate the success of a theme, it is critical to have some understanding of what is expected to be achieved by what timeframe.

5. Resources: Personnel and resources required to support implementation of a theme must be clearly defined.


The 3rd IGOS Partnership meeting in June 1999 confirmed and agreed that the Oceans theme should be started immediately as an illustration of how the thematic approach would work. This confirmed at the 4th SIT meeting decision of January 1999, where the Oceans theme was proposed as the initial pilot theme, in part because it was ready and in part to learn lessons about the approach before addressing other themes.

It was further agreed at SIT 4 that the Disaster Management Support project should become a theme, and that its work should continue. At the 3rd IGOS Partnership meeting this course received wide support, and NOAA undertook to consult with other interested Partners and to bring forward a specific proposal in time for the November 1999 meetings of CEOS Plenary and the IGOS Partnership. Similarly, FAO offered to develop a proposal for a Terrestrial Carbon Cycle theme.

At the 3rd IGOS Partnership meeting, all Partners were encouraged to consider making other proposals for themes, always bearing in mind the agreed criteria described in Section III above.


There has been general agreement that this theme should be started at once, with the aim of completing the IGOS component by the end of 1999. In order to facilitate progress, the Chairman of GOSSP has agreed to hold on 5-6 August 1999, a joint meeting of his group and the Oceans Theme Team.

The Oceans team will be led by NASA, supported by CNES, ESA, ISRO, NASDA and NOAA, with GOOS as co-leader. It is clear that the team will be able to take advantage of several on-going initiatives with a high political profile. This theme will be able to incorporate the work of the Long Term Ocean Biology and GODAE projects, begun as IGOS pilot projects under SIT. The NASA team leader made a preliminary presentation to the 3rd IGOS Partnership meeting, and undertook to have a more developed action plan ready in time for consideration at the November, 1999, meetings of CEOS and the Partnership.

Disaster Management

Disaster management has been widely accepted as one focus for IGOS activity, but it requires special treatment because of its breadth of scope and the varying state of maturity of the different application areas. There is considerable political and programmatic interest in the subject, and the work under this theme is of significant interest to the space agencies, as well as to numerous international, regional and national user activities. These include the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction and the Office of Outer Space Affairs at the UN level; the international Global Disaster Information Network effort; the Economic and Social Committee for Asia and the Pacific; Council of Europe; European Commission Directorate General XI; Japanís National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention; the US Sub-committee for Natural Disaster Reduction; and the national emergency management authorities of Canada, Japan, France, Italy, the United States and others.

A disaster management theme would further develop and implement the IGOS-related aspects of the SIT Disaster Management Support project (identification of space-based observation and data/product requirements, dialogue, refinement of requirements, and space agency commitments to meeting requirements), with continued leadership from NOAA together with the European Commission. The current Project Chair and Vice-Chair, and leaders of the information tools and hazard teams (currently drought, earthquakes, fires, floods, oil spill and volcanic hazards), along with space agency representatives, could constitute the overarching theme team, with representatives from interested IGOS Partners and a small number of user organisations.

Terrestrial Carbon Cycle

A proposal for such a theme would take advantage of work already undertaken under the leadership of FAO, as well as the project GOFC.


For each theme there should be a small team responsible for organising activities and for producing recommendations, including the initiation of projects where appropriate. In consultation with IGOS Partners and also with GOSSP, team membership will be constituted from designated representatives of space-based and in-situ providers willing to make contribution, and will also include appropriate scientific expertise and user organisation representation. Participants in a team should be active in the subject area under discussion, and should have the full support of their agency or organisation.

It is suggested that most of the work can be done via electronic mail, with such meetings as are necessary taking advantage of other events which participants attend. Each team would be expected to report back, as invited, to future IGOS Partnership and other IGOS-related meetings.


Teams are not expected to define requirements anew, but rather to use those, which are currently agreed and documented. The CEOS database maintained by WMO and ESA, as well as the formally-adopted requirements of the Global Observing Systems and other IGOS Partners, including work accomplished by initial IGOS pilot projects, will provide the core, although national, regional and global requirements can, where documented, be incorporated. Close liaison with GOSSP should prove particularly helpful in such identification.

The team should integrate currently agreed and documented space and in-situ requirements. This would implicitly require integration of the different inputs. More importantly, it will involve the identification of what is needed over and above the data and products that can be provided from existing systems and those systems under development. This could involve identification of the need for new products, procedures (e.g. data collection/dissemination) or new systems. It will also involve stating those requirements that can be met. All this will require a focused dialogue among space and in-situ provider agencies and relevant user representatives, in which GOSSP will play a key role.


It will be helpful for teams to have an outline indicating the areas that they are expected to cover, and the form in which they should present their work. A model, based on the WMO WWW work, is being used and modified as appropriate by the Ocean theme.


The CEOS Plenary and the IGOS Partnership will be invited in November to take note of the development of the "themes" concept since their last meetings, and to indicate any additions and/or modifications they would wish to see introduced.

Paper developed by the Chairman of CEOS following the meeting in Rome, 8 June 1999
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