The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) was established in 1992 to ensure that the observations necessary to address climate-related issues are defined, obtained and made available, to all potential users. The Swiss GCOS Office at the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss has the task of coordinating all climate relevant measurements in Switzerland (GCOS Switzerland). As such, the Swiss GCOS Office also fosters the exploration of new measurement techniques and methods, in particular through the use of satellite-based data, to complement the long-term in situ
observations in Switzerland. In this paper, the role of satellites is presented for climatological studies of atmospheric and terrestrial Essential Climate Variables in Switzerland. For the atmospheric domain, the 10-year climatology March 2000–February 2010 of cloud cover from MODIS is shown for Switzerland, in low (1° × 1°) and high (0.05° × 0.05°) resolution, and compared to ground-based synop observations. For the terrestrial domain, the satellite-derived Swiss glacier inventory from 1998/99 and the new Alpine-wide inventory from 2003 is presented along with area changes derived from a comparison with previous inventories.