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Defining Geophysical Parameters

During the AIP-3 kickoff meeting, one objective of this WG was to leverage the contributions to AIP with regard to Information Modeling.
Several action items have been identified so far to address this :
  • Reconciling WMO/CEOS 'geophysical parameters' with the modeling of 'geographical features'
    • GIGAS working on ways to reconcile GEOSS ‘geophysical observations’ with INSPIRE ‘features view'
  • Coordination with GEO task DA-09-01b on Data, Metadata & Products Harmonization
    • Having focused mostly on Earth Observations 
  • Coordination with QA4EO
    • Addressing the Quality Assurance process for 'GeoPhysical observations'
    • But having interests through its GEO Implementation Team to address a wider "sensor-to-product-to-service" lineage information area
In order to coordinate such WG action items, this page summarizes the definitions and terms used to present the GeoPhysical observations/parameters, considered as our "EO domain" starting point, and requiring to conduct harmonization with in-situ measurements, geographical features production, and potentially Environmental (predictive) Models. The GIGAS project contribution to this AIP-3 topic can be found here.


Observations of the Earth available in GEOSS encompass all areas of the World, and cover in situ, airborne, and space-based observations.

"GEOSS primarily focuses on issues of regional and global scale, and cross-sector applications, while also facilitating (...) the operation and enhancement of Earth-Observing systems that are focused on national, local and sector-specific needs. (...) Through GEOSS, organizations share observations and products with the system as a whole, and take the necessary steps to ensure that the shared observations and products are accessible, comparable, and understandable, by supporting common standards and adaptation to users’ needs". [GEO 10 Year Plan]

The AIP-3 CFP emphasized that to meet these objectives of sharing and fusing information from diverse sensors and organizations, harmonized concepts of information are needed. Geophysical observations in the context of international standards and globally coordinated project are defines as follows:

- A geophysical phenomenon can be measured by sensors. The goal of the measurement is to produce an estimate of a geophysical parameter.
- Measurements are direct observations of specific geophysical parameters. These correspond to corrected and calibrated data or retrieved environmental variables. Some examples include radiance, ocean height, soil moisture, relative humidity...
- A controlled vocabulary of geophysical parameters is provided by CEOS and WMO, and will be used in development of a GEOSS User Requirements Registry. It provides to date (revision process is ongoing) a table of about 100 geophysical parameters definitions. Domains addressed by these geophysical parameters are defined as: Basic atmospheric profiles and related 2D parameters, Clouds and precipitation, Aerosol and radiation, Ocean and sea ice, Land and Solid Earth, Atmospheric chemistry.


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