WMO, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Met Office (UK) took part in a joint side-event on 9 May during the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body For Scientific And Technological Advice (SSBSTA) in Bonn, Germany. The side-event highlighted changes to the WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate (annual Statement) and in global observing requirements. It also offered an overview of a new WMO mechanism for the recognition of long-term observing stations. WMO outlined plans to enhance the annual Statement by providing, amongst others, updates on open science issues – such as the apparent cooling of the southern ocean, the apparent increase in the Antarctic sea ice and the attribution of extreme events to natural and anthropogenic factors of climate change – and information on impacts.
GCOS focused on the expansion of global observing needs to cover regional and national level needs. The level of national climate change mitigation measures should be based on accurate, long-term observations that detect small changes – compared to annual variations – that will add up significantly over longer time periods. These observations should also contribute to early warning systems and monitoring for a range of Sustainable Development Goals. GCOS has been leading efforts to identify climate indicators that summarize the 55 Essential Climate Variables (ECV) and, in so doing, provide a small set of observed data that demonstrate the scale and scope of changes that are occurring. GCOS and the UNFCCC plan a series of regional workshops to look at national and regional observing needs, which will initially focus on fresh water: precipitation, rivers and lakes.
Long-term meteorological observations are part of the irreplaceable cultural and scientific heritage of mankind that serve the needs of current and future generations for long-term high quality climate records. They are unique sources of past information about atmospheric parameters, thus the new WMO mechanism to recognize such stations. Later in May, WMO recognized a first list of 60 long-term observing stations (see public.wmo.int/en/our.mandate/what-we-do/observations/long-term-observing-stations).