WOAP is co-sponsored by the GCOS (Global Climate Observation System) and reports to the Joint Scientific Committee (JSC).
WOAP consists of a panel of representatives from all of the other activities in WCRP (projects and working groups) and GCOS to deal with cross cutting issues related to global observations, their analysis and assimilation, and the resulting products, from a research perspective on behalf of WCRP and GCOS.
WOAP is complementary to the GCOS Panels and it includes representatives from the WCRP/GCOS co sponsored panels AOPC (Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate), OOPC (Ocean Observation Panel for Climate) and Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) to establish requirements of climate researchers for in situ as well as satellite observation networks and systems. WOAP, AOPC, OOPC and TOPC also serve the research community in the collection and reanalysis of climate observations in order to better describe the structure and variability of the climate system, as well as climate change. WCRP exploits observations and reanalyses in its input to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports and other wideranging policy advice.
WOAP also has representatives from the WCRP modeling working groups, as models are essential to analyze observations, and assimilation of observations provides fields for initializing climate predictions with models. It therefore also provides a forum for exploring modeling and prediction observational needs. WOAP further includes representatives from the WCRP projects, who typically lead in process studies but whose activities are necessarily set in a global context. WOAP also explores mechanisms for the management, stewardship and access of data (WCRP's Data Management), climate system data assimilation, synthesis, reprocessing and reanalysis of observations. In addition WOAP interacts and represents WCRP on observational issues with the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS).
WCRP has led reanalysis efforts since they started for the atmosphere in 1988, and WOAP now provides ongoing leadership in promoting reanalysis and expanding it to embrace ocean reanalysis and even whole Earth system reanalysis. A series of three WCRP reanalysis conferences have been held, with the first in 1997 at NOAA, USA; the second in 1999 in Reading, UK; and the Third WCRP International Conference on Reanalysis was held in January/February 2008 in Tokyo, Japan (see the Conference Statement). A fourth is being planned for the USA in 2011.
WOAP has also interacted with CEOS through a series of letters to reinforce aspects of the GCOS implementation plans and especially emphasize the need for reprocessing of satellite datasets. WOAP has set up two tasks or working groups:
- Task Group on Data Management in the WCRP;
- Working Group on Observational Data Sets for Reanalysis (joint with AOPC).