About GCOS
The Global Climate Observing System

GCOS is intended to be a long-term, user-driven operational system capable of providing the comprehensive observations required for:

  • Monitoring the climate system,
  • Detecting and attributing climate change,
  • Assessing impacts of, and supporting adaptation to, climate variability and change,
  • Application to national economic development,
  • Research to improve understanding, modelling and prediction of the climate system.

GCOS addresses the total climate system including physical, chemical and biological properties, and atmospheric, oceanic, terrestrial, hydrologic, and cryospheric components.

Download the GCOS Brochure (PDF).

The GCOS mission

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).