Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)

Earth observation systems consist of measurements of air, water, and land made on the ground, from the air, or from space. GEOSS is an effort to look at these elements together and study their interactions. Created by the 73 members of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), including the United States and Japan, this is a major international cooperative effort to bring together existing and new technologies in order to collect and disseminate improved information to aid decision-makers at every level, from intergovernmental organizations to local governments and individuals. By continuously monitoring the state of the environment, grasping dynamic earth processes, and enhancing forecasts of environmental conditions, the aim of this effort is to give decision-makers the information they need to make more informed choices. Interlinking existing systems around the world that would have operated in isolation in the past will reduce the costs that any single country would have otherwise faced, while at the same time painting a more accurate picture of the state of the planet.

Benefits include reducing the damage from natural disasters; integrating the management of water resources; facilitating the monitoring and management of ocean and marine resources; improving the monitoring of weather and air quality; helping conserve biodiversity; and aiding the adaptation to climate variability and climate change.

The U.S., which is a founding member of GEO, has a strong commitment to the GEOSS initiative. With its long history of environmental observation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is in an excellent position to provide expertise and leadership to GEOSS. As a major user or client of the data, NOAA's active involvement in the design of a GEOSS will ensure that the products are useful to the environmental management programs in all of the participating countries.