GEOSS Relevant AQ Projects

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)
Main ESIP page >> Main AQ Work Group page

GEO AQ CoP: Role & Mission

This page describes a number of Air Quality projects underway in the US, Europe, and Latin America which are contributing, directly and indirectly, to GEOSS. Note that elsewhere, we have compiled surveys of the Air Quality Data landscape from other perspectives.

GEOSS-Relevant AQ Projects

These projects underway in the US and EU are standardizing data, building networks, and creating AQ infrastructure. A number are directly relevant to one of the Work Plan Tasks below. The AQ Community of Practice needs to build upon these projects, find connections between them, and use them to build GEOSS.

MACC / Monitoring Atmospheric Composition and Climate

MACC is a recently-initiated collaborative effort, funded by the European Commission, to monitor the global distributions and transport of long-lived greenhouse gases, aerosol and reactive pollutants that degrade air quality, and to forecast constituents affecting air quality and surface solar radiation with a focus on Europe. MACC's product lines include data records on atmospheric composition for recent years, and data for monitoring present conditions and forecasting for a few days ahead. (MACC is a continuation of the GEMS and PROMOTE programmes under GMES, see links.)


AIRNow is the home of the US effort for informing the public about air quality conditions and forecasts. AIRNow-International (.pdf) is US EPA's program to improve AQ public information internationally. AIRNow-International is starting with a pilot partnership with Shanghai, China, where a new software package will be debuted this fall. This software, which the US program will also soon implement, is designed to make AIRNow compatible with GEOSS and other emerging AQ standards. The overall goal is to support a broad international framework of air quality public information which will support our understanding of air quality and increase demand for air quality improvements.


The AIRNow API project is a US EPA effort designed to improve and facilitate access to air quality data via standardized, well-understood interfaces with simple examples and documentation. The AIRNow API will likely expand and improve upon data feeds and web services currently available through AIRNow Gateway ( In addition, the API will incorporate the Community WCS Server (, which is compliant with OGC WCS 1.0-1.1.2. This will facilitate interoperability with other data systems operating the Community WCS Server. The API will also include a custom web service originally designed for exchanging data between AIRNow and the EPA AQS system using the AQCSV format. A website will be developed for the AIRNow API that will include clear and detailed documentation, examples, references, and a query tool to assist in assembling URLs for the REST-type services. A discussion forum may be included (or referenced) so that API users may easily share knowledge or assist one another.

Web Services to be included in the AIRNow API:

Future web services:

  • OGC Web Mapping Service (WMS)

Considerations and goals:

  • Standardized inputs and outputs
  • Use of NetCDF-CF naming conventions
  • Standardized metadata outputs (e.g., WCS getCapabilities; possibly ISO 19139 XML in WAF)

AQMEII / Air Quality Model Evaluation International Initiative

The objectives of AQMEII are to coordinate research efforts being undertaken in North America and the European Union and promote:

  • exchanging expert knowledge in regional air quality modelling,
  • identifying knowledge gaps in air quality science,
  • developing methodologies to evaluate uncertainty in air quality modelling
  • building a common strategy on model development and future research priorities,
  • establishing methodologies for model evaluation to increase knowledge on processes and to support the use of models for policy development
  • preparing coordinated research projects and inter-comparison exercises.

Air Quality Community Infrastructure developed under AIP-2

The Air Quality & Health Workgroup in the second phase of the GEO Architecture Implementation Pilot worked to develop, test, and refine the GEOSS Common Infrastructure for Air Quality data and metadata. The Workgroup also developed an Air Quality community infrastructure designed to interface with the GCI, so that AQ data products registered with GEOSS are more findable and usable for the AQ community.

Unlike the above projects, this work is not centrally managed (and there is not a central website laying out the work). Among the products / projects building from this work:

  • AQ uFIND, which builds upon the DataFed concept, taking advantage of the metadata standards of GEOSS which were tuned up in the AIP.
  • Air Quality Community Portal, which provides access to data in the GEOSS Clearinghouse(s??) with AQ-relevant context
  • CEOS AC portal
  • HTAP Network

CEOS AC Portal

CEOS, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, is the international group which works to coordinate civil space-borne observations of the Earth. The CEOS Atmospheric Composition Constellation aims to collect and deliver data to improve monitoring, assessment, and predictive capabilities for changes in the ozone layer, air quality, and climate forcing associated with changes in the environment through coordination of existing and future international space assets. CEOS ACC is developing a portal to:

  • Provide access, tools, and contextual guidance to scientists and value-adding organizations in using satellite-based atmospheric composition data, information, and services.
  • Connect existing infrastructure efforts to achieve interoperability and application of atmospheric composition data, information and services worldwide.
  • Identify the unique requirements and common (shared) features of the AC and GEOSS users to provide a value-added and complementary capability.

HTAP Data Network

TF-HTAP, the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution is an international researchers effort to develop a fuller understanding of intercontinental transport of air pollution in the Northern Hemisphere. Researchers have run experiments designed to probe intercontinental source-receptor relationships using dozens of model platforms. The results of these model runs are valuable resources for studies of transport and also for model evaluation.

The HTAP Data Network will facilitate comparison and analysis of these results. The network makes the results freely available using OGC standards / protocols.

The network will be extended to include monitoring datasets from satellites and ambient networks.


SERVIR integrates satellite observations, ground-based data and forecast models to monitor and forecast environmental changes and to improve response to natural disasters. SERVIR enables scientists, educators, project managers and policy implementers to better respond to a range of issues including disaster management, agricultural development, biodiversity conservation and climate change. SERVIR's Central American node at CATHALAC, the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America, has worked effectively with the governments of the region to provide decision support. SERVIR is primarily supported by NASA and USAID.

SERVIR and partners are intent on using air quality monitoring and satellite products to improve decision support in the region. Current SERVIR-Air work includes training, blogging on air quality, and assessment of air quality monitoring facilities in Central America.

Within the last year, SERVIR-AIR has expanded to include an experimental-operational air quality forecast model. Building on the pre-existent MM5 platform, Baron Advanced Meteorological Systems has provided the on-site technology and capacity building necessary to implement an emissions processing/modeling and forecasting sub-system using global and regional databases together with MM5 as inputs. The outputs of the emissions forecast model are then fed, together with MM5 atmospheric fields, to the EPA CMAQ model ,which is also run in forecast mode. Recently, a very basic set of forecast graphics were made available on the SERVIR website: [1], with plans to improve these in the near future. In addition, results are being exposed to the prototype GEOSS-compatible website hosted by DATAFED:[2] and [3]. Recently a workshop/press-conference was held announcing the public release of this "beta-version" of the forecast modeling system: [4] Further development of the forecast modeling system toward full operational deployment is now underway.

GEO User Requirements for Air Quality

GEO Task US0901a is to identify critical Earth Observation priorities for Air Quality through compilation and analysis of publicly-available documents.

GURME / the GAW Urban Research Meteorology and Environment program

GURME, organized by WMO under the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW), is designed to help enhance the capabilities of National Met and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) to handle meteorological and related aspects of urban pollution. GURME is built on the premise that NMHSs have an important role to play in the study and management of urban environments because they collect information and have capabilities that are essential for forecasting urban air pollution and evaluating the effects of different emission control strategies.

GURME's work has focued on surveying and documenting how NMHSs are responding to air quality concerns, assessing the need for AQ forecasting and modeling, training programs for AQ forecasting, modelling, and other services, and facilitating connections between NMHSs and with international research projects.

Details on GURME can be found in the GAW strategic plan, see pp 75 - 79 (warning: 1MB pdf, link sometimes hangs!!).

WMO Sand & Dust Storm Warning Advisory System

The mission of the WMO Sand & Dust Storm Warning and Advisory System (SDS-WAS) is to enhance the ability of countries to deliver:

  • timely and quality forecasts of sand and dust storms
  • observations of aerosols: sand and dust
  • information and knowledge to users

through an international partnership of research and operational experts and users.

SDS-WAS Objectives:

  • To provide users access to forecasts and observations
  • To enhance operational SDS forecasts through technology transfer from research
  • To improve observation technology
  • To build capacity of countries to utilize SDS products
  • To build bridges with other relevant communities

Tasks Relevant to Air Quality in the GEO Work Plan

The 2009-2011 GEO Work Plan provides the agreed framework for implementing the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan (2005-2015). It is a living document that will be updated annually.

The Work Plan consists of ~115 Tasks and Sub-Tasks which describe efforts underway by GEO members (i.e., countries) and participating international organizations to build GEOSS. The whole work plan is available on the site above, or you can find more details on GEO Task Sheets about a number of AQ-relevant Tasks (these are all pdfs):

GEO Tasks often involve/describe work underway for various projects and purposes - typically programs that make up these Tasks are not simply focused on GEOSS, but they are consistent (we hope!) with the GEOSS approach. There is a lot of overlap and similarity between the GEOSS-relevant activities described above and the Work Plan Tasks, but there are cases where the connection still has not been made and complementary activities are occurring independently. The CoP needs to find these complements and bring folks together, so that:

  • the Work Plan reflects this work,
  • projects inform the CoP,
  • projects help build the GEOSS and the GCI, and
  • projects use GEOSS and the GCI.

Other compilations

We have compiled other surveys of the air quality information landscape. These compilations provide other perspectives on the projects described above.