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Climate observing system remains fragile, needs funding: Experts

Climate observations are fundamental to our understanding of the current and future environment

The conference called for access to climate data through global data repositories. Photo: WMO The conference called for access to climate data through global data repositories. Photo: WMO

Climate observing system remains fragile and needs financing for strengthening and sustaining it, stated a global conference in their declaration.

Sustainable and long-term funding is essential to ensure the continuity and expansion of observations, read the declaration released by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) conference October 19, 2022.

The conference has announced its commitment to a “comprehensive and sustainable global climate observing system” in light of the rapid pace of climate change.

Climate scientists and policymakers at the conference called for collective efforts to improve the climate observing system by defining a “global goal for observations.”

Climate observations are fundamental to our understanding of the current and future environment, said the participants in their declaration, released October 19, 2022.

These observations are undoubtedly the cornerstone of our efforts to mitigate climate change, adapt to future conditions and reduce future loss and damage — a key agenda of the the upcoming COP27.

But they remain highly inadequate. For example, the system to observe oceanic carbon concentration is highly unequipped to meet the growing demand for information on marine carbon, revealed the Ocean Observing System Report Card, 2022.

The 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP27, will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 -18 November.

GCOS conference was hosted by Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), from 17-19 October 2022.

Operational monitoring of the climate and detection of global climatic changes are the fundamental objectives of EUMETSAT.

GCOS is co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Science Council. 

“Observations underpin all weather, climate, water and ecosystems services and products. Without the collection and sharing of these observations, the ability to understand, predict, mitigate, and adapt to changes in the climate system is limited,” said Sabrina Speich, chair of the GCOS conference.

The status of climate observation systems has not improved much in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia since 2015, according to State of Global Observation Systems, 2021.

Africa, South America and South-East Asia urged prioritising advancements in climate observation systems. Prioritisation must also be given to polar and deep ocean observing systems.

There is a need to focus on improving data quality, availability, accessibility and utility. The climate observations are underexploited as the processing of the available data has been inconsistent, the declaration underlined.

More efforts are required to ensure the data is available for reanalysis in an easy-to-use format. Long-term time-series data on climate change is essential to understand and address the existential crisis.

The conference called for access to climate data through global data repositories. In addition, access to climate data must be made free and open.

The climate observations made by national agencies need support along with regional and global coordination, experts said. They called for advancements in local climate change information networks.

GCOS Implementation Plan 2022, released by the WMO, also identified gaps in earth observations and areas that require improvement. The plan will be presented at COP27.

“Current changes to the climate are posing a threat to the Earth. The steps we take today matter for our future and EUMETSAT aims to play a part in supporting a more sustainable way forward for the planet,” EUMETSAT director-general Phil Evans reminded in his statement. 

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