International Council for Science - World Data Center System

Appendix A - ICSU Organizations and Programs


World Climate Research Program

WCRP, undertaken jointly by WMO, IOC/UNESCO and ICSU, seeks to determine the extent to which climate can be predicted and how it is affected by human activities. Its unifying theme is the development of comprehensive global models of the Earth's climate. WCRP organizes investigations of the basic physical processes that play a fundamental role in the system, and fosters the refinement of models that provide quantitative estimates of long-term changes. A major WRCP landmark was the formal conclusion in 1994 of the ten-year Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere (TOGA) study. Longer-term changes in the Earth's climate depend on the slowly varying components of the climate system, namely oceans and ice. The WCRP World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) is a worldwide study which observes and models the oceans as a whole.

Building on the achievements of TOGA and WOCE, a new WCRP study of Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) began in 1995. CLIVAR expands the scope of studies of climate variability and predictability, on time scales from a month to a century, and aims to improve confidence in predictions of anthropogenic climate change. The Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) has the goal of understanding how the global inputs of solar energy, along with changes in the atmosphere and at the surface, influence the global hydrological cycle, cloudiness, evaporation and rainfall.

Two WCRP projects deal with regions of special importance and scientific interest. The Arctic Climate System Study (ACSYS) uses ships, aircraft, satellites, automatic stations, buoys and bottom mooring to investigate the Arctic Ocean circulation and its impact on global climate. The Study of Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC) investigates the natural variability of the stratosphere, the impact of human activities, and how changes in the stratosphere affect the penetration of ultraviolet radiation to the surface.

Existing operational networks implemented through the World Weather Watch and other programs acquire and process information for meteorological, marine and hydrological applications. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is developing additional observing systems to support climate applications, characterize climate impacts on the environment, and contribute to knowledge of the Earth system. WCRP promotes observation projects for specific require-ments, that include data from research satellite systems and involve specialized oceanographic, cryospheric and related land surface data sets.

Each WRCP component develops its own plans for data archiving. Data from TOGA, the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project and the Global Precipitation Climatology Project are archived in the ICSU WDCs. Data plans under development for other WCRP projects include electronic access to data sets via the WCRP and other (e.g., GEWEX) WWW Home Pages:

The ICSU WDCs will continue to receive, archive and provide access to some of the specialized data sets noted above, and provide referral information on related data sets outside the WDC system.

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