How Do We Maintain Sustainable High-Quality Climate Observation Networks That Can Answer the Question: How has the climate changed over the past 50 years?

C. Bruce Baker
Oak Ridge, TN USA 37830

As we experience a new era in which the Earth?s climate is forced by human activities, it is critically important to maintain an observing system capable of detecting and documenting global climate variability and change. Policy makers and the general public require climate observations to assess the present state of the ocean, cryosphere, atmosphere, and land, and place them in context with the past. To be of widespread value to scientists and society, these observations must be sustained over many decades and remain of the highest quality. Climate observations are needed to evaluate and initialize climate models and to improve predictions of climate change. Such efforts are essential for guiding national and international policies that govern climate-related resources, and for building agreements aimed at mitigating long-term climate change. Climate researchers have used existing, operational networks because they gave been the best, and sometimes only, source of data available. Guidelines have been developed for climate observing systems, specifically the ten climate monitoring principles. These principles should be considered in the design of new networks.