The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (which is getting a bit-time workout this winter) has joined forces with Earth Networks, the company that announced in January that it is creating a greenhouse gas emissions tracking network in collaboration with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Earth Networks, which used to be known as AWS Convergence Technologies, is the company behind the Weatherbug service.
The terms of this latest partnership call for NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) to use data collected via the Earth Networks Global Observation Network to help "advance climate science." The network will initially collect carbon dioxide and methane gas information with more than 100 sensors deployed around the world. At least $25 million will be invested over the next five years in the technology underlying this network, according to the initial announcement.
Earth Networks and NOAA say that the ESRL will use the data collected by the new network to contribute to ongoing environmental research. In exchange, Earth Networks will use gas calibration technique standards from NOAA in order to make sure that they match up with other meterological collection standards. Here's the rationale for the partnership, as stated in the press release, from James Butler, director of the global monitoring division with NOAA ESRL.
"The Earth Networks Greenhouse Gas Observation Network will provide a significant increase to the density of atmospheric observations for evaluating emissions and uptake of greenhouse gases, thus it could enable tighter application scales and greater certainty of information products. This effort, properly coordinated with NOAA's global network, would aid in enhancing research and developing applications to better understand the regional-scale behavior of atmospheric constituents that drive climate change."
I have said before that I, personally, don't have a position on the causes of climate change but I do think the more information we can collect about emissions the better because it will give us an idea of what to expect. It could also help make the "ozone" alerts that some major U.S. cities have started issuing during the summer months much more specific and quantifiable. Then again, we all know that the weather is awfully hard to track and predict sometimes. Why should greenhouse gases be any different?