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All life depends on a healthy planet, but the interwoven systems of atmosphere, oceans, watercourses, land, ice cover and biosphere, which form the natural environment, are threatened by human activities. The Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) programme provides reliable scientific data and information on aerosols, greenhouse gases, selected reactive gases, ozone, ultraviolet radiation and precipitation chemistry (or atmospheric deposition).
The impact of aerosols on the atmosphere is widely acknowledged as one of the most significant and uncertain aspects of climate change projections. The observed global warming trend is considerably less than expected from the increase in greenhouse gases, and much of the difference can be explained by aerosol effects. Aerosols impact climate through direct scattering and absorption of incoming solar radiation and trapping of outgoing long-wave radiation as well as through alteration of cloud optical properties and the formation of clouds and precipitation.
Within its mandate in the areas of weather, climate and water, WMO focuses on many different aspects and issues from observations, information exchange and research to weather forecasts and early warnings, from capacity development and monitoring of greenhouse gases to application services and much, much more.
Competency frameworks will be introduced into the WMO Technical Regulations, which define standards and recommended practices for services and for taking observations and creating, sharing and accessing meteorological, climatologic and hydrological data. Institutions supplying education and training opportunities to the personnel of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are also encouraged to adjust their training courses and programmes to better support the competency frameworks.