The Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology

Activities of the Expert Team on Marine Climatology (ETMC)

The Terms of Reference of the Expert Team on Marine Climatology (ETMC) are provided here.

The ETMC is involved in the following activities:

MCSS - Marine Climatological Summaries Scheme

The MCSS, established by WMO in 1964 (see video on the celebration of the MCSS 50th Anniversary on the occasion of CLIMAR-4 here), has as its primary objective the international exchange, quality control and archival of delayed mode marine climatological data, in support of global climate studies and the provision of a range on marine climatological services.  Eight countries are designated to process the data and regularly publish the climatological summaries. Two Global Data Collecting Centres (GCC) were established in 1993 in Germany and the United Kingdom to facilitate and enhance the flow and quality control of the data.  All data are eventually archived in the appropriate World Data Centres, such as the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Historical Data can be requested from the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS). More details on ICOADS and how to access the data on its web site are available at

Review and modernization of the MCSS

JCOMM and its Data Management Coordination Group recommended a review and restructuring of the MCSS and requested the ETMC-in liaison with the JCOMM Expert Team on Wind Waves and Storm Surges (ETWS), the Expert Team on Sea Ice (ETSI), the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl), and the joint CCl/CLIVAR/JCOMM Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (ETCCDI)-to explore how oceanographic and ice climatologies could be coordinated with the marine meteorological data, so that the results could be viewed as an integrated product.

At its Second Session, Geneva, Switzerland, October 2006, the DMCG agreed on the need for modernization of the management of the two separate functions of the MCSS:

  • The delayed-mode VOS data handling
  • The preparation of the Marine Climatological Summaries (MCS)

Several developments took place since then with work achieved by task teams. A proposal for establishing a Marine Climate Data System (MCDS) to eventually replace the MCSS was agreed upon by JCOMM at its fourth Session in Yeosu, Republic of Korea, 23-31 May 2012, and Recommendation 2 (JCOMM-4) on the MCDS adopted. The MCDS role of the IODECommitee has been clarified at the twenty second Session of the IODE Committee (Ensenada, Mexico, 11-15 March 2013), which adopted Recommendations IODE-XXII.13 (IODE Global Data Assembly Centres (IODE GDACs), and IODE-XXII.14 (The Marine Climate Data System (MCDS)).The Task Team on the MCDS is following up these developments.

Development of the Marine Climate Data System (MCDS)

According to the vision for a Marine Climate Data System (MCDS) in 2020 (Annex 1 to Recommendation 2 of JCOMM-4) JCOMM will strive to address the WMO and IOC applications requirements for appropriate marine-meteorological and oceanographic climatological data (met-ocean climate data), and particularly address those for long term climate monitoring (Global Climate Observing System – GCOS), seasonal to inter-annual climate forecasts, for the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), and ocean climate requirements of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

To address those requirements, the Vision for a Marine Climate Data System (MCDS) is to formalize and coordinate the activities of existing systems, and address gaps to produce a dedicated WMO-IOC data system operational by 2020 in the view to have compiled coherent met-ocean climate datasets of known quality, extending beyond the GCOS Essential Climate Variables (ECVs). These will be of known quality collected from multiple sources to be served on a free and unrestricted basis to the end users through a global network of less than ten WMO-IOC Centres for Marine-Meteorological and Oceanographic Climate Data (CMOCs) covering specific JCOMM data domains. Data, metadata and information will be fully interoperable with the WMO Information System (WIS) and the IOC/IODE Ocean Data Portal (ODP), will be compatible with, and contribute to the High Quality Global Data Management System for Climate (HQ-GDMSC) that is being developed by the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl).

This system is expected to improve timescales for met-ocean climate data availability, facilitate the exchange of historical met-ocean climate data sets between countries, and thereby increase the amount of ocean observations eventually made available to the relevant end user applications. Furthermore, integrated data and metadata will be available containing comprehensive dataset information e.g. historic details on current and past data codes and formats.

The data management structure will be standardized, well defined and documented for existing and new data across JCOMM activities and state of the art marine climate and statistical products will be easily accessible.

The development of the MCDS requires using state of the art integrated and standardized international systems for the improved data and metadata-flow and management of a wide range of met-ocean climate data. This includes integrating collection, rescue, quality control, formatting, archiving, exchange, and access of in situ and satellite sources. This system will be based on improved quality management, documenting processes and procedures, using higher level quality control, added value data processing, including bias correction, and comparison of the observations with satellite and meteorological and oceanographic model gridded fields.

It is expected that the relevant data and associated metadata will be of known quality, and extend to products that satisfy the met-ocean climate data requirements for climate monitoring, forecasting, and services.

Meetings of the ETMC

  • ETMC-1, Gdynia, Poland, 7-10 July 2005 (final report)
  • ETMC-2, Geneva, Switzerland, 26-27 March 2007, (final report)
  • ETMC-3, Melbourne, Australia, 8-12 February 2010 (final report)
  • Workshop for a new MCDS, Hamburg, Germany, 28 November-2 December 2011 (final report)
  • ETMC-4, Ostend, Belgium, 26-28 November 2012 (final report)
  • ETMC-5, Geneva, Switzerland, 22-25 June 2015 (final report)

JCOMM Workshops on Advances in Marine Climatology (CLIMAR)

  • CLIMAR-99, Vamcouver, Canada, September 1999
  • CLIMAR-2, Brussels, Belgium, 17-22 November 2003
  • CLIMAR-3, Gdynia, Poland, 6-9 May 2008
  • CLIMAR-4, Asheville, USA, 9-12 June 2014

International Workshops on Advances in the Use of Historical Marine Climate Data (MARCDAT)

  • MARCDAT-1, Boulder, USA, 29 January-1 February 2002
  • MARCDAT-2, Exeter, UK, 10-20 October 2005
  • MARCDAT-3, Frascati, Italy, 2-6 May 2011 (proceedings)
  • MARCDAT-4, Southampton, UK, 18-22 July, 2016


Hosted by
UNESCO/IOC Project Office for IODE Oostende, Belgium