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a core project of
2018WCRPspon col July2018 01 1

JKey- A Global Cryosphere Watch


The International Polar Year (IPY) helped demonstrate the urgent need for a sustained, robust, end-to-end cryosphere observing and monitoring system, not only for polar regions, but globally.  In 2007, the World Meteorological Congress supported a proposal to create a Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW). The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) initiated widespread consultations with WMO programs, other organizations, agencies, and the cryosphere scientific community, resulting in Congress approving the GCW Implementation Strategy in 2011.  GCW is now being implemented as an IPY legacy for sustained cryosphere observing, monitoring and provision of data and information. WMO’s Executive Council Panel of Experts on Polar Observations, Research and Services (EC-PORS), through its GCW Task Team, is guiding the implementation of GCW.

GCW will soon provide service-oriented information for informed decision making and policy development related to climate, water and weather, for use in real time, for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and for risk management. GCW builds on the recommendations of Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) Cryosphere Theme (CryOS) to ensure a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable system of observations and information that will allow for a full understanding of the cryosphere and its changes.  This includes initiating a cryosphere observing network called “CryoNet”, a network of reference sites and “supersites” in cold climate regions. Reference sites will lead in the effort to establish best practices, guidelines and standards for cryospheric measurement. A complementary task involves developing an inventory of candidate satellite products for GCW which are mature and generally accepted by the scientific community. This task includes an intercomparison of products to assess quality and to ensure an authoritative basis.  GCW is working to improve exchange of, access to, and utilization of observations and products from WMO and other observing systems through a GCW portal. Establishing interoperability between data management systems supporting cryospheric data directly addresses GCW objectives.

There are a number of areas in which GCW and CliC can work together. CliC can participate in the development/selection of measurement standards and practices, help develop an inventory of satellite products and foster intercomparison, review and provide input to observing system requirements, lead the prediction component of GCW, develop cryosphere climate indices, contribute to the development of regional GCW activities, and foster transfer of observational research to operations. GCW can improve access to CliC research data through the GCW data portal and provide high-quality data for models.

Presented by Jeff Key, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Madison, WI USA, at the 9th CliC Scientific Steering Group meeting in Potsdam, Germany 2013.

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