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August 7th, 2011:


The Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) programme of WMO is a partnership involving 80 countries, which provides reliable scientific data and information on the chemical composition of the atmosphere, its natural and anthropogenic change, and helps to improve the understanding of interactions between the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere.

GAW focal areas are GHGsozoneUVaerosolsselected reactive gases, and precipitation chemistry.


A network of measurement stations is the backbone of the GAW programme. This network consists of GAW Global and Regional measurement stations with additional measurements from Contributing stations. Both Global and Regional stations are operated by their host countries, either by their National Meteorological Services or by other national scientific organizations. More than 80 countries actively host GAW stations.

Currently GAW coordinates activities and data from 28 Global stations410 Regional stations, and 81 Contributing stations (see GAWSIS).

GAW Global and Regional Stations

GAW Global Stations

In recent years satellite programmes have produced important measurements of atmospheric compounds and related parameters that complement the GAW network measurements. When highly accurate local measurements from GAW ground-based stations are coupled with the near global coverage of satellite measurements it results in a more complete picture of atmospheric composition and processes on global scales, and provides complimentary checks of instrument calibrations. The Committee on Earth Observation (CEOS) has developed a strategy for such co-operation within an integrated system for monitoring of the atmosphere (WMO/GAW Report No.140 ).

Climate change

The South African Weather Bureau, together with the Fraunhofer Institute in Garmisch, Germany, maintains a research laboratory at Cape Point to monitor longterm changes in the chemistry of the earth’s atmosphere, which may impact upon climate. The laboratory, which was architecturally designed to blend into the western slopes of Cape Point , is one of the World Meteorological Organisations’ 20 Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) stations.
It monitors environmentally important air components, including trace gases like ozone, methane and carbon dioxide, as well as solar radiation and various meteorological parameters.   The air at Cape Point is regarded as being particularly pure for most of the time, thereby providing insights into such phenomenon a stratospheric ozone depletion and climate change.