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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).
Data repositories and archives play a critical role as the source for the observational data used in the study of weather and climate. After over two centuries of recording observations on physical media – and the last 20 years on digital media – these records are at risk.
Through its Technical Commission, Programmes and Regional Offices as well as by synergistic partnerships, WMO facilitates the maintenance and expansion of its Members' atmospheric, oceanographic and land-based observational networks; the free unrestricted exchange of the resulting data and information; and related capacity development and research in order to optimize the production weather, climate and water-related services worldwide.
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.