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An Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanographic Datasets


The composition of the atmosphere and oceans is an important component of the climate system. From the deepest part of the ocean to the top of the atmosphere, atmospheric and oceanic composition exerts a profound influence on the atmosphere/ocean's structure and dynamical systems, and on the radiation emitted and absorbed by the atmosphere. Atmospheric composition is a primary factor in the thermal structure of the atmosphere. The climate could be changed as a result of alterations to outgoing radiative fluxes by greenhouse gases. Aerosols introduced by volcanos (e.g., so2) and humans (e.g., CFCs and HFCs) can cause changes on both short and long time scales by altering the chemical makeup of the atmosphere and, thus, altering the radiative balance of the earth.

Some important atmosphere/ocean constituents include:

Datasets, particularly those derived from satellite measurements, are providing increased knowledge of the amount and variability of many atmospheric constituents. The most common constituents measured include water vapor, ozone and those associated with greenhouse warming (e.g., methane). Measurement for many other constituents are available but are limited. Currently, several projects are in progress or have been proposed to address the need for more data. Some of these include the:

WMO's Global Atmospheric Watch : The GAW program is the principal permanent operational program for monitoring the evolution of the chemical composition of the atmosphere on global and local scales.

WCRP's Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate : The SPARC project will make ground-based and vertical profile measurements of physical parameters in the stratosphere as well as aerosols and chemical species of fundamental importance to determine stratospheric change.

IGBP's International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Program : The IGAC makes measurements of chemical processes in the troposphere, particularly those related to the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere.

WMO's International Global Aerosol Program : IGAP will make observations of the optical properties related to aerosols to determine the impact of aerosols on climate.

The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) has archives containing greenhouse gas data and operates as a World Data Center for Atmospheric Trace Gases. (See Appendix A for details on contacting CDIAC.)

Table 7.1
Some NCAR Datasets with Constituent Information
ds254.0 Najjar, Global ocean nutrient grids po4, no3, sio2)
ds709.0 1989-81 NASA SAMS Experiment Zonal Mean Methane + n2o
ds710.0 1978-86 NASA Nimbus-7 Orbital Total Ozone Obs, 78Oct-86Sep
ds711.0 1970-77 NASA Nimbus-4 Total Ozone Obs, 70Apr-77May
ds765.5   GSFC Global Wetlands+Methane Emission, 1 degree
ds804.0 1963-69 NCC TD9518 Daily Ozone Soundings, 63Sep-69May
ds805.0 1951-75 Canadian Total Ozone Obs + Anals, daily, monthly
ds805.11957-76 London's Global Total Ozone Anals, monthly
ds805.2 1957-85 Canadian Ozonesondes + Total Ozone, 1957Jul-1985
ds806.0 1967-69 London's Global Ozone from OGO-4, 1967Sep-1969Jan
ds866.0   GISS Methane + Livestock Distribution, 1 degreex
ds867.0  Matthew's GISS Methane from Rice Cultivation

An Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanographic Datasets
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