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Data and observations

Improving collection, management, exchange, access to and use of observational data and other relevant information on current and historical climate and its impacts, and promoting improvement of observations, including the monitoring of climate variability.

Data and observations are important not only for monitoring the climate system, but also for detecting and attributing climate change, for assessing the impacts of climate variability and change, and for supporting research toward improved understanding, modelling and prediction of the climate system. Data can be collected on all aspects of the climate system including on the physical, chemical and biological properties and atmospheric, oceanic, hydrologic, cryospheric and terrestrial processes (Adapted from GCOS, 2003).

Activities and deliverables under the second phase (2008-2010) include:

  • Consideration of relevant issues from this work area in a technical workshop (requested by the SBSTA before its thirty-second session, November 2010)
  • The SBSTA encouraged the secretariat to provide links on its website to identify, describe, apply and make accessible terrestrial, atmospheric and oceanic data and available climatic and relevant non-climatic data and information (see resources box).

Activities and deliverables under the first phase (up to June 2008) included:

  • Submissions by WMO and its member States, GCOS and other relevant organizations
  • An expert meeting held in Mexico City, Mexico in March 2008

The activities will be undertaken under, and in coordination with, the work of the SBSTA on systematic observation. Since 1997 the Convention has supported the Global Climate Observing System and its partner agencies, and has urged Parties to engage fully with their work (secretariat work on systematic observation)

Work in the area of data and observations can contribute to efforts by Parties and organizations to:

  1. Promote the implementation of systematic observation (including through the GCOS implementation plan and the regional workshops programme), focusing on issues relating to impacts and vulnerability and taking into account stakeholder data needs and needs to enhance capacity to supply and use the data, especially at the regional and national levels;
  2.  Improve capacity for collecting, managing and using observational data, and identify practical ways of enhancing technical capacity;
  3. Exchange information on observed climate change impacts, including those observed through traditional knowledge.


Details of activities and deliverables under the first phase

The SBSTA invited the WMO and its member States, the secretariat of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and other relevant organizations, to submit information and their views, by 21 September 2007, on how their work could contribute to improved understanding of current and historical climate, and its impacts, including the identification of gaps and deficiencies in data and observations, stakeholder data and capacity needs, especially at regional and national levels, and ways to improve technical infrastructure.

Submissions were received from nine Parties (Australia, Bolivia, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia and Uzbekistan as well as from Portugal on behalf of the European Community and its member states), three intergovernmental organizations (IPCC, GCOS, and GTOS) and one non-governmental organization. The submissions are available in the documents below. 

Work that could contribute to the improved understanding of current and historical climate, and its impacts. Submissions from the World Meteorological Organization and its member States and other relevant organizations.

pdf-icon Submission from an admitted non-governmental organization (81 kB)

Expert meeting

The SBSTA requested the secretariat, under the guidance of the Chair of the SBSTA, to organize an expert meeting, before the twenty-eighth session of the SBSTA, with the participation of Parties, users and developers of methods and tools, relevant organizations, and representatives from sectoral and other communities to advance consideration of methods and tools.  The SBSTA also requested the secretariat to include consideration of relevant matters on data and observation in this expert meeting. 

The expert meeting on methods and tools and data and observations took place in Mexico City, Mexico from 4 to 7 March 2008. The agenda, presentations and results from the meeting are available on the Mexico meeting page.

The report on the expert meeting is contained in document FCCC/SBSTA/2008/3.


Progress on implementation

Technical workshop on collaboration among regional centres and networks.
2-5 March 2010, Apia, Samoa

Expert meeting on methods and tools and data and observations
Mexico City, Mexico, 4 to 7 March 2008

Call for Action
on data and observations

pdf-icon Leaflet (804 kB)
on data and observations


Sources of climatic and non-climatic data for climate risk assessments and adaptation planning

Data Distribution Centre of the IPCC hosting observational as well as scenario data for a wide variety of climatic, socio-economic and environmental variables

An overview by the Global Climate Observing System of international data centres and archives for data relating to atmosphere surface, atmosphere upper-air, atmosphere composition, oceans, terrestrial, and space

Climate Information Portal of the Climate Systems Analysis Group, University of Cape Town, providing downscaled climate model projections

UNDP country-level climate profiles (including both observations and model-based scenarios)

World Bank climate change portal providing quick and readily accessible climate and climate-related data to policy makers and development practitioners

Tide gauge data from the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level

Data and information provided by the Centre for International Earth Science Information Network, including data on a wide range of subject areas including agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystems, climate change, economic activity, land use and land cover, natural hazards, population and poverty

Impacts of climate change on different sectors, by the Global Adaptation Atlas of the Resource for the Future