Global Atmosphere Watch: Science for Service
WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch has held a major symposium on how to improve the monitoring and understanding of air pollution, ozone, ultraviolet radiation, greenhouse gases and other atmospheric conditions which impact on our daily life.
The symposium is held every four years It focused on strengthening scientific data and information on the state of the atmosphere and its interactions with the oceans and the biosphere, and ensuring that it is relevant and accessible to service providers and policymakers.
“We need to account for the human impact on the atmosphere, said Øystein Hov, chair of the science committee of Global Atmosphere Watch. “We must establish a sound and mature science-base to inform atmospheric and air quality services and policy,” he said, stressing that this depended on maintaining the high quality global network of monitoring stations.
Global Atmosphere Watch is a partnership involving 80 countries. Its stations are situated in some of the world’s most inhospitable places, including high in the Himalayas and Alps, in the Arctic and Antarctic, and on islands in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It supports global networks that deliver observations which are then used to address gaps in understanding of climate, weather and air pollution issues that are of direct interest to the general public.
Its core areas of activity include:
Greenhouse gases: Global Atmosphere Watch monitors rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, which are linked to human activities and are driving to climate change.
Aerosols: Airborne particles affect many aspects of human health and the environment and are linked to chronic respiratory and acute cardio-vascular problems, as well as problems like visibility reduction, acid rain, and urban smog in many locations of the world. Global Atmosphere Watch aims to strengthen long-term aerosol measurements.
Ozone: Global Atmosphere Watch monitors the state of the ozone layer which protects us from the harmful rays from the sun and which is beginning to stabilize thanks to the phase-out of ozone-depleting chemicals. The ozone layer outside the Polar regions is projected to recover to its pre-1980 levels before the middle of this century, but much later over the Antarctic. Global Atmosphere Watch also provides information on solar ultraviolet radiation.
Air quality: The growth and urbanization of the world’s population and increase in the number of megacities (cities with more than 10 million inhabitants) has a major negative impact on urban air quality. The Global Atmosphere Watch Urban Research Meteorology and Environment Programme helps national meteorological services to provide information to its users on weather-related aspects of air pollution.
Global Atmosphere Watch has also set up a advisory service to improve capabilities for more reliable sand and dust storm forecasts in deserts and adjacent regions.
The symposium agreed that the way forward lies in science-driven services for the public and that these services will be supported by the core observations of Global Atmosphere Watch on atmospheric composition and UV radiation.