Working group III (WG III): Operational Continuity and Contingency Planning

The Working Group on Contingency Planning (WG III) was established in 1992 in order to deal with the risk of discontinuity in the key data services provided to WMO, and with contingency action planning to mitigate such risks. The approach to contingency planning involves global planning supplemented by bilateral agreements based on the “help your neighbour” concept.

The Working Group was initially focusing on key missions for weather monitoring and forecasting. In 2002, CGMS agreed extend its considerations to climate monitoring missions.

Terms of reference of WGIII (endorsed by CGMS-44 in June 2016).

WG III Co-chairs: Peng Zhang, CMA/Ajay Metha, NOAA

WG III Rapporteur: Lars Peter Riishojgaard, WMO


The objective of the WG III is to review the global satellite planning agreed by CGMS Members in response to WMO requirements, to monitor the risk of gaps in implementing this planning, and to define individual or collaborative actions to be taken accordingly by CGMS Members if the risk arises, in order to secure continuity of the critical services.

Working by consensus, WG III proposes actions and recommendations which are reported to the plenary session for decision.

Outcomes and perspective

With reference to the baseline configuration of CGMS missions in support of weather monitoring and forecasting, a Global Contingency Plan has been developed to ensure robust implementation of this baseline configuration. Bilateral agreements are in place for ensuring mutual back-up amongst several geostationary satellite operators of adjacent regions.

Geostationary weather monitoring missions are now providing adequate coverage of most sectors. Mutual back-up operations were conducted on a number of occasions since 1992 to replace or second a failing satellite by an available spare satellite, e.g. : Meteosat-3 was relocated over the Atlantic in replacement of GOES-7, and Meteosat-5, 6 and 7 over the Indian Ocean in replacement of GOMS-Electro N1; GOES-9 was moved westwards over the Pacific to fill the gap between GMS-5 and MTSAT-1R. Operational meteorological missions in Low Earth orbit are fulfilling the basic requirements for imagery and sounding on a morning and an afternoon orbit, with some spare capacity. Attention shall however be given to the continuity of the early afternoon missions given the change of satellite generation occurring in the coming years.


The CGMS baseline of satellite missions is being reviewed and expanded to include the agreed contribution of CGMS Members in support of climate monitoring, as well as the response to updated weather requirements. The new baseline will include missions related to ocean surface measurements (such as altimetry, scatterometry and ocean colour), Earth radiation budget measurements (including downward and upward irradiance at the Top of the atmosphere), and contribution to atmospheric composition and space environment monitoring. A workshop has been held to investigate the specific measures to be considered to best address the continuity requirements of such new missions. CGMS-39 will review the new baseline and potential implications on the CGMS Global Contingency Plan.