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A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Climatic Change, 31(2-4), Dec. 1995, is a special issue edited by T.R. Karl comprising 24 papers on the development of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). The papers are based on a January 1995 international planning workshop of about 100 scientists held in Asheville, North Carolina, which emphasized detection of anthropogenic climate change and its potential impacts. A hardbound edition is available from the publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 101 Philip Dr., Norwell MA 02061 (617 871 6600) in US/Can.; elsewhere: Distribution Ctr., POB 322, 3300 AH Dordrecht, Neth.


Item #d96feb1

"The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)," T. Spence (GCOS Joint Planning Off., c/o World Meteor. Organization, C.P. 2300, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switz.), J. Townshend, 131-134.

Introduces the special issue and reviews the origin of GCOS, recently established by the World Meteorological Organization and several other organizations to ensure that needed observations and information on climate-related issues are obtained and made available to the nations of the world. GCOS will not directly make observations or generate data products, but will rather encourage, coordinate and otherwise facilitate observations and data products which must be made by national or international organizations in support of their own requirements and common goals. Its success is critical, as it will provide the observational basis of national and international climate programs.

Item #d96feb2

"Long-Term Climate Monitoring by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS)," T. Karl (Natl. Clim. Data Ctr., NOAA, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville NC 20081), F. Bretherton et al., 135-147.

Outlines the topics and general recommendations of the workshop. Two overall conclusions emerge. First, adequate long-term monitoring will continue to be critically dependent on a partnership among network operators, data managers, analysts and modelers; multi-purpose observing systems used for operations, research and monitoring are likely to provide the most cost-effective way of meeting needs. Second, GCOS should use the workshop recommendations in an opportunistic sense; they should be implemented as early as possible at appropriate windows of opportunity.

Item #d96feb3

". . .Report of Breakout Group A—Climate Forcings and Feedbacks," C. Miller (Natl. Environ. Satellite, Data and Info. Serv., NOAA, 1315 East-West Hwy., Silver Spring MD 20910), F. Bretherton, 149-162.

Topics addressed were greenhouse gases, radiation budget, water vapor, aerosols, clouds, precipitation, tropospheric ozone, and solar radiation.

Item #d96feb4

". . .Report of Breakout Group B—Climate Responses and Feedbacks," K.E. Trenberth (NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307), 163-180.

Major topics were atmospheric monitoring, satellite temperature data, surface marine observations, ocean observations, the cryosphere, and paleoclimate.

Item #d96feb5

". . .Report of Breakout Group C—Climate Impacts," W.E. Easterling (Dept. Agricultural Meteor., Univ. Nebraska, Lincoln NE 68583), 181-184.

Summarizes the highest priority data needs for impact assessment.

General Aspects of Climate Observing

Item #d96feb6

"Critical Issues for Long-Term Climate Monitoring," T.R. Karl (address above), V.E. Derr et al., 185-221.

Virtually every monitoring system and data set requires better data quality, continuity and homogeneity if we expect to conclusively answer questions of interest to both scientists and policy makers. The continued degradation of conventional surface-based observing systems in many countries (both developed and developing) is an ominous sign; satellite-based observing platforms alone will not, and cannot, provide all the necessary measurements. For satellite measurements to be useful in long-term climate monitoring, many more steps must be taken to avoid the problems of data inhomogeneity that are now common.

Item #d96feb7

"Toward a Scientific Centered Climate Monitoring System," J.D. Mahlman (GFDL, POB 308, Princeton NJ 08542), 223-230.

Stresses the need for developing a partnership between theoretical/modeling researchers and observational data analysts, a process that could take a decade or more to fully develop.

Item #d96feb8

"Long-Term Climate Monitoring and Extreme Events," N. Nicholls (BMRC, POB 1289K, Melbourne Vic 3001, Australia), 231-246.

Discusses a number of factors that make the detection of trends in the frequency of extreme events very difficult. If, in the future, we are to answer the question "are extreme weather events becoming more frequent?" we must establish and protect high-quality stations capable of monitoring the most important extreme events, and ensure that changes affecting the recording of such events are meticulously documented.

Item #d96feb9

"Low-Cost Long-Term Monitoring of Global Climate Forcings and Feedbacks," J. Hansen (NASA Goddard Inst. Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York NY 10025), W. Rossow et al., 247-271.

Focuses on the potential contribution of a series of inexpensive small satellites, but also discusses the need for complementary climate process studies and ground-based measurements. Some of these measurements could be made inexpensively by students, providing both valuable climate data and science educational experience.

Item #d96feb10

"Regional Climate Changes as Simulated in Time-Slice Experiments," U. Cubasch (Deutches Klimarechenzentrum GmbH, Bundesstr. 55, 20146 Hamburg, Ger.), J. Waszkewitz et al., 273-304.

Examines regional characteristics of climate change by comparing 30-year climate model simulations made at the present CO2 level, and at double and triple that level. Results suggest regions of the world in which observational studies should be intensified, and how the observational data should be evaluated.

Specific Aspects of Climate Observing

Item #d96feb11

"Monitoring Changes of Clouds," W.B. Rossow, B. Cairns, 305-347.

"On Detecting Long-Term Changes in Atmospheric Moisture," W.P. Elliott, 349-367.

"Long-Term Observations for Monitoring of the Cryosphere," J.E. Walsh, 369-394.

"Satellite Monitoring of Global Land Cover Changes and Their Impact on Climate," R. Ramakrishna, R. Nemani, S.W. Running, 395-413.

"Long-Term Observations of Land Surface Characteristics," C.F. Ropeleweski, 415-425.

"Atmospheric Circulation Climate Changes," K.E. Trenberth, 427-453.

"Temperature Above the Surface Layer," J.R. Christy, 455-474.

"An Ocean Observing System for Climate. The Conceptual Design," N.R. Smith, G.T. Needler, and the Ocean Observing System Development Panel, 475-494.

"Observational Evidence of Interannual to Decadal-Scale Variability of the Subsurface Temperature-Salinity Structure of the World Ocean," S. Levitus, J. Antonov, 495-514.

"Monitoring Sea Level Changes," V. Gornitz, 515-544.

"Land Surface Temperatures—Is the Network Good Enough?" P.D. Jones, 545-558.

"Marine Surface Temperature: Observed Variations and Data Requirements," D.E. Parker, C.K. Folland, M. Jackson, 559-600.

"Documenting and Detecting Long-Term Precipitation Trends: Where We Are and What Should Be Done," P. Ya. Groisman, D.R. Legates, 601-622.

Climate Impacts and Climate Monitoring

Item #d96feb12

"Indexes of Leading Climate Indicators for Impact Assessment," W.E. Easterling (Dept. Agric. Meteor., Univ. Nebraska, Lincoln NE 68583), R.W. Kates, 623-648.

Indexes of leading climate indicators of impacts may be usable knowledge for consumers and may provide guidance to the global observing community concerning the types of data and information that users need. Suggests five classes of indexes. Two are already available from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center: the Climate Extremes Index (CEI), and the Greenhouse Climate Response Index (GCRI). Also proposes indexes of Hazard Warning, Ecosystem Health, and Energy Demand and Renewable Energy Resources.

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