GCOS Essential Climate Variable (ECV) Data Access Matrix

The Essential Climate Variable (ECV) Data Access Matrix is in development to provide a clearninghouse for access to ECV related data sets and information. The input for the variable descriptions was provided by WMO/GCOS and latest updated on June 20, 2013. 

ECVs are required to support the  work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). All Essential Climate Variables are technically and  economically feasible for systematic observation. It is these variables for which international exchange is required for both current and  historical observations. It is emphasized that the ordering within the table is simply for convenience and is not an indicator of relative priority.

An effort is presently underway to identify vetted data sets for each of the ECVs.  These data sets will be made available in this data access matrix.  Satellite data questionnaires was sent to World Data Centers to identify these data sets.  This effort is in cooperation with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Systems Engineering Office/NASA Langley Research Center, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the WMO Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the WCRP Data Advisory Council (WDAC), the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites — NC (CICS-NC), NOAA/NCDC and the GOSIC. A similar effort is on the way to identidy vetted in-situ data sets.

The Annual State of the Climate Reports are a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) publication.  Pier reviewed articles identify ECV data sets.  These data can be accessed by links in the Matrix below under individual ECVs.

Article: 'The Concept of ECVs in Support of Climate Research, Applications and Policy' (BAMS September 2014)

Latest update: Fire Disturbance Data Access was updated. See http://gosic.org/content/gcos-terrestrial-ecv-fire-disturbance

REMINDER: This is a team effort.  Suggestions and comments are welcome.  Please send them to: christina.lief@noaa.gov

ATMOSPHERIC (over Land, Sea & Ice)



River Discharge
Surface Air Pressure Carbon Dioxide Partial Pressure Water Use
Surface Air Temperature Current Ground Water
Surface Precipitation Ocean Acidity * Lakes (Water level in lakes and reservoirs, water storage) *
Surface Radiation Budget Ocean Color Snow Cover
Water Vapour (Surface humidity) Phytoplankton * Glaciers and Ice Caps *
Near-Surface Wind Speed and Direction Sea Ice Permafrost and seasonally frozen ground
Sea Level Albedo and Reflectance Anisotropy *
Cloud Properties Sea State Land Cover (including Vegetation Type)
Earth Radiation Budget (including Solar Irradiance) * Sea Surface Salinity Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (FAPAR)
Temperature Sea Surface Temperature Leaf Area Index (LAI)
Water Vapor
Above Ground Biomass *
Wind Speed and Direction Carbon Fire Disturbance
Current Soil Moisture *
Carbon Dioxide Nutrients Soil Carbon *
Methane Ocean Acidity * Ice Sheets *
Other Long-Lived Greenhouse Gases  Oxygen *  
Ozone and Aerosols Salinity  
Precursors (supporting the Aerosols and Ozone ECVs)  * Temperature  
  Global Ocean Heat Content **  

* Added or modified per 'Implementation Plan for the Global Observing System for Climate in Support of the UNFCCC - August 2010, GCOS-138 (GOOS-184, GTOS-76, WMO-TD/No. 1523)'  (pdf)
** Not an official GCOS ECV

Reference documents: