Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
12 May 2011
 | 12 May 2011

National Climate Observing System of Switzerland (GCOS Switzerland)

G. Seiz and N. Foppa

Abstract. In recent decades, the global observation of climate and climate change has become increasingly important. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) established in 1992 addresses the entire climate system including physical, chemical and biological properties of atmosphere, ocean and land surface. This paper describes the GCOS implementation in Switzerland and highlights some major achievements over the last few years. The Swiss GCOS Office was established at the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss in February 2006, to coordinate all climate-relevant measurements in Switzerland. The first-ever inventory of the country's long-term climatological data series and international data centres, including an assessment of their future prospects, was compiled in 2007. The National Climate Observing System of Switzerland (GCOS Switzerland) includes long-term climatological data series in the atmosphere and terrestrial domains, international data and calibration centres, satellite-based products and support of climate observations in developing countries. A major milestone in the surface-based atmospheric observations was the definition of the Swiss National Basic Climatological Network (NBCN), consisting of 29 stations of greatest climatological importance. The NBCN was further densified for precipitation with 46 additional daily precipitation stations (NBCN-P). Analysis of the homogenized timeseries of the average temperature in Switzerland shows a total warming of +1.6 °C from 1864 to 2010. In the terrestrial domain, substantial advances were made in all three subdomains hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere. As example for the use of satellite data within GCOS Switzerland, the 10-yr MODIS monthly mean cloud fraction climatology over Switzerland from March 2000 to February 2010 is presented, which illustrates the differences in cloud cover between mountainous regions and flatland regions in winter, as well as the north-south gradient in cloud cover over Switzerland in summer.