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G3P presentation on essential climate variables during ICCC workshop

On 29-31 March 2021, the Inter-Commission of Geodesy for Climate Research (ICCC) of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) organised its first workshop. Andreas Güntner (GFZ), project leader of G3P, presented on the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) and the contribution of geodetic observations an overview during the first day of this online workshop.  

Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) and the contribution of geodetic observations: an overview

On Monday, G3P project leader Andreas Güntner presented on ‘Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) and the contribution of geodetic observations: an overview’ during the session on hydrology and data. The  Global  Climate  Observing  System  (GCOS)  defines these  Essential  Climate  Variables  (ECVs)  as  variables  that  are  critical for characterizing the climate system and its changes. ECV datasets provide the empirical evidence needed to understand and predict the evolution of climate, to assess risks, to guide adaptation measures, to underpin climate services, among others.

Güntner presented an overview on ECVs and the way they are defined and described by panels in GCOS such as TOPC, the Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC), and via public consultation on ECV requirements. An overview was given of potential contributions of geodetic observations to measuring different ECVs before focusing more closely on two ECVs: In the terrestrial branch, one of the established ECVs is groundwater. 

Furthermore, the Steering Committee of GCOS recently recommended to establish Terrestrial Water Storage (TWS) as a new ECV. While the European Union's Earth Observation Programme Copernicus does not yet provide data products for these ECVs, this gap is about to be filled by the EU research project G3P (Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product). Data products for both ECVs (groundwater and TWS) may largely benefit from geodetic observations, in particular by satellite gravimetry.


The IAG ICCC has been established to enhance the use of geodetic observations for climate studies. The goal is to establish a systematic and comprehensive approach among the various geodetic communities, but also to establish and foster links to the climate science. 

For more information about IAH ICCC click here.