The GMOS showcase
GEO – Task HE-02-C1 “Global Mercury Observation System”
Improved information on mercury emissions have contributed to further progress the assessment of the regional impacts of mercury on terrestrial and aquatic environments. Major international activities aimed to assess source-receptor relationships for mercury in the environment have been carried out within international conventions and programmes (i.e., UNEP, UNECE-LRTAP, OSPAR, HELCOM, ACAPs, AMAP) and projects (i.e., MAMCS, AME, MOE, MERCYMS, ESPREME, GMOS). In its 2009 session the UNEP Governing Council agreed on the need to develop a global legally binding instrument for mercury, and since the International Negotiation Committee (INC) with support of the partnership areas has started a process of elaboration of the LBI that will be tabled to the next GC in 2013. Following the growing interest of the scientific and environmental policy community, in 2008 the GEO approved as part of its 2009-2011 Work Plan a new subtask (HE-09-02d) aimed to build a global monitoring network for mercury. As outcome of this extraordinary international effort to control the level of mercury in different ecosystems, in 2010 the European Commission approved for funding the Global Mercury Observation System (GMOS, www.gmos.eu) project which involves nearly 30 partners from all over the world. GMOS is aimed to develop a coordinated global observation system for mercury, including ground-based stations at high altitude and sea level locations, ad-hoc oceanographic cruises over major oceans and seas and a tropospheric program for measuring mercury concentration in the free troposphere. GMOS will provide high quality data for the validation and application of regional and global scale atmospheric models to give a firm basis for future policy development and implementation. In the meantime the GEO revised its work plan (2012-2015) and the goal of developing a Global Mercury Observation System was included as part (C1) of the Task HE-02 “Tracking Pollutants”. GMOS is currently supporting the achievement of goals of the UNEP Mercury Programme, the GEO (2012-2015) Work Plan, and the Task Force of the Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollutants (HTAP) of the UNECE-LRTAP convention.
Expected achievements by 2015
The overarching expected goal of C1 is the development of a global observation system for mercury by harmonizing standard operating procedures for monitoring mercury and its compounds in air, precipitation samples, surface water, soil, sediments, vegetation and biota. The sharing of data from this network, allowing access to comparable and long-term data from a large number of ground-based and off-shore sites, will help understand temporal and spatial patterns of mercury transport and deposition to, and evasion from, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The data produced (at 40 ground-based sites, off-shore locations over the oceans, and in the UTLS) will support the validation of regional and global atmospheric mercury models for use in the evaluation of different policy options for reducing mercury pollution impacts on human health and ecosystems. The data sets, validated models and interoperable system produced within this task will support the policy making process in the framework of the UNEP Governing Council activities and UNECE-LRTAP conventions. The task builds upon the contributions of, among others, the GMOS (Global Mercury Observation System) project, UNEP Mercury Programme, the Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollutants Task Force (TF HTAP), the European Monitoring and Evaluation Program (EMEP), MercNet/AMNet initiative in USA, CAMNet in Canada, and other international monitoring and modelling efforts.
Outputs and Activities:
The foreseen outputs and activities of the Task are:
- Observational data provided by a globally coordinated observation system able to quantify the concentrations of mercury species in the atmosphere and marine ecosystems;
- A spatial data infrastructure (SDI) for GMOS that will allow the sharing of observational data and modelling systems;
- Data bases related to emissions of mercury from natural processes and sources as well as form anthropogenic sources. These data sets provided through the SDI will support the activities of NGOs, Stakeholders and policymakers in developing best practices and future strategies for controlling the impact of mercury pollution on Earth;
- Advanced and innovative approaches for upgrading and expanding Earth observations;
- A growing capacity of individuals, institutions and infrastructures to benefit from and contribute to GEOSS, particularly in developing countries.
S&T components of relevant interest are:
- an international observation system, which provides a consistent and standardized set of long-term data on ambient concentrations and deposition fluxes of atmospheric mercury in its various forms;
- ad-hoc off-shore investigations to assess gas exchange of mercury between the surface waters and the atmosphere;
- the development of an interoperable system to facilitate data integration, data re-use, and data exchange within and beyond the GMOS by means international standards for data and spatial schema’s (ISO19107, ISO14825), for metadata (ISO19115:2003, ISO/DTS19139:2005, ISO15836) and for services (WMS 1.1.1, WFS 1.0, SLD 1.0, GML 3.1);
- dedicated aircraft studies with ongoing project (i.e. CARIBIC, (NOMADSS)., ETMEP) and vertical profiling and plume identification/tracking with improved temporal and spatial vertical profile of mercury species concentration.
Development of an SDI with a classical three layer architecture: a Data Storage Layer (DSL), connected to the Business Logic Layer (BLL) hosted in a Tomcat Server which is linked to the Application Layer (AL).
The core of the system will be represented by the DBMS, which will store vector-type information and functional data. The DBMS will represent the DSL in the SDI architecture, and stores metadata and geographic data in separate databases to maintain a different logic structure for each type of data. Additional databases will be dedicated to functional tasks and to information coming from web sensors.
In the BLL, server components will be plugged to perform the system functionality like metadata management, data and map creation, and data dissemination.
The AL will hold a dedicated viewer for geographic information of the SDI.
The following activities will help the infrastructure implementation:
- Design the SDI architecture;
- Implement the SDI;
- Collect historical information;
- Make a quality control of collected datasets and define their uncertainty where possible;
- Upload datasets into the database;
- Test the system;
- Deliver services.
Institutions and Development
GMOS is closely cooperating with major international programs including the UNEP Global Partnership Area on Atmospheric Mercury Transport and Fate Research (UNEP F&T), the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollutants (TF HTAP) of the UNECE-LRTAP convention, the GEO Task (HE-02 on Tracking Pollutants) and AMAP. The results of past EU funded projects (i.e., MAMCS, MOE, MERCYMS) provide a solid basis of knowledge in terms of state-of-the-art atmospheric models, monitoring methodologies, interoperable tools management and environmental policy analysis instruments.
GMOS will extent the availability, use, and application of environmental information in order to improve monitoring of the state of the Earth, in relation to mercury pollution and its impact on humans and ecosystems, increase understanding of Earth processes, and enhance prediction of the behaviour of the Earth system. The C1 task will meet the need, as quoted in GEOSS strategic targets, for timely, quality long-term global information as a basis for sound decision making, and will enhance delivery of benefits to society in the following initial areas:
- Understanding environmental factors affecting human health and well-being;
- Improving the management and protection of terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems.
Once the system will be established, the following principles of data sharing would be adopted by C1-GMOS members:
- Full and open exchange of data, metadata, and products shared within GMOS, recognizing relevant international instruments and national policies and legislation;
- All shared data, metadata, and products will be made available with minimum time delay and where possible without additional cost;
- Encourage share and reuse of data, metadata, and products for research, education and policy decisions.
GMOS Data sharing principles adopted by participants.
- Discuss within the GMOS community on data sharing principles;
- Prepare a technical report on GMOS Data Sharing principles;
- Provide the community with Standard Operating procedures for the global monitoring network;
- Register components and procedures in the GEOSS portal.
As the C1-GMOS activity is based on a global network for operational monitoring and capacity building, including advanced centres from both developed and developing countries, its activity will be substantially improved by GEOSS because of a coordinate approach to data measurement, archive, discovery and release.
Significant Science and Technology (S&T) issues are addressed in GMOS. They range from in-situ, shipborne and airborne observing products to climate/chemical atmosphere modelling and assimilation data; from development of advanced sensor to interoperable systems.
It is foreseen that the contribution of GMOS to the overarching goals of GEOSS will be substantial as well as technologies learned within the GEOSS community will strengthen GMOS objectives.
This coordinated approach will ensure:
- increase of synergies and effectiveness of national and international capacity building programmes related to mercury;
- engagement of resource providers in the GEO capacity building process;
- enhanced integration of mature Earth observation-based information systems into day-by-day enduser practices including decision making, management processes and planning for all Societal Benefit Areas.
Main activities will be related to:
- Networking activities that specifically build individual, institutional and infrastructure capacity related to GMOS;
- Leveraging resources for Earth observation capacity building efforts;
- Uptake Increased use of Earth observation in policy and decision making;
- Enhanced participation in GEO and GEOSS.
Science & Technology
This Task, will ensure full interaction, engagement and acknowledgement of GMOS communities into GEOSS. This S&T community is aimed to collect information, to better predict the biogeochemical mercury cycle, to develop emissions scenarios and define impact on human health and environment.
- Improved and new instrumentation and system design for in-situ, airborne, and space-based observation, benefiting from advances in S&T;
- Increased accessibility of global sets of scientific data necessary for improved Earth System modelling in the different GEO Societal Benefit Areas.
- Provide to GMOS community demonstrative of well practices in support of GEOSS;
- Establish a “GEO label” for GMOS data to recognise the scientific relevance, quality, acceptance and societal needs for activities;
- Build awareness of GEO and GEOSS in the GMOS S&T communities, within the scope of the GEOSS development;
- Enhance registration of scientific data sets as an important indicator for potential contributors from the GMOS community;
- Identify key partners, which could contribute to GEOSS and also benefit from improved observational means, products and services and might therefore support certain S&T development;
- Catalyze research and developing funding to help engaging the GMOS S&T communities in the implementation of the GEOSS.
The GMOS Project includes 23 partners from 18 countries and 8 external partners from on-going international networks and programs (e.g. NADP, CAMnet). The Policy Advisory Board (PAB) includes Representatives of major organizations that are in charge to policy development aimed to reduce the impact of mercury contaminations on human health (i.e UNEP, UNECE-LRTAP, GEO, WHO, EC). To this end linkages across Societal Benefit Areas would be of value providing wider opportunities for synergistic collaboration.
- Establishment of an agreed core set of essential chemical, climatic, environmental, and socio-economic variables needed to provide data, metadata and products in support of all GEOSS Societal Benefit Areas;
- Involvement of GMOS users in: reviewing and assessing requirements for data, products and services; creating appropriate mechanisms for coordinating user requirements; utilizing data/information delivery systems; and capturing user feedback on an ongoing basis across Societal Benefit Areas;
- Increased use of geo-spatial data in all Societal Benefit Areas and in particular in countries with highest environmental treats.
- Developing a framework to identify and implement linkages across Societal Benefit Areas, thereby providing wider opportunities for synergistic collaboration;
- Active partnerships among and within Societal Benefit Areas, promoting synergy among GEO projects and activities through the concept of user communities of practice;
- Increased development of data and information, with special emphasis on socio-economic applications and the development of methods, for models and tools required to make best use of these data in science and technology development and decision-making;
- Use, enhanced by a user-oriented GEOSS Common Infrastructure, of GMOS products and services across all Societal Benefit Areas of GEOSS.
Mercury information substantially expand the availability, use, and application of environmental information for public health decision-making in areas of health. It will also improve the assessment, protection and sustainable management of terrestrial, coastal and marine resources and the delivery of associated ecosystem services. Then it aims to energy policy planning and implementation, to enable affordable energy with minimized mercury impact. Finally, it should expand application capabilities to advance sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry in areas including food security and wellbeing.
- advance the application of observation, monitoring and forecasting systems to health decision-making processes;
- foster the use of established and emerging observation systems in operational health-related applications for air and water quality related to mercury, and develop associated products such as forecasts and alerts compliant with the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP);
- include efforts to examine terrestrial, freshwater, and marine (ocean) ecosystems and their services, to establish causality between changes in flora, fauna and other factors affecting the emergence of mercury pollution;
- facilitate the integration of mercury databases and emerging information products with public health data, socioeconomic data, and epidemiological information needed in decision support systems for health care planning and delivery;
- develop best practices for energy production under mercury-free scenarios;
- develop and promulgate wider availability of methodologies to understand interactions between mercury pollution and ecosystems;
- develop best practices for food production under mercury-free scenarios.
- Provide access to improved environmental information and tools to support the global community of human health and environment experts;
- Increase use of environmental information and tools to support decision making in mercury emission scenarios;
- Provide prediction of potential hazards of fossil fuel use for energy production;
- Provide, environmental, economic and societal impact assessments of mercury release into the environment;
- Supply mapping of anthropogenic and natural source emissions;
- Provide increased knowledge of mercury bioaccumulation and biomagnifications through the marine ecosystem;
- Expand monitoring of pesticides and fertilizer containing mercury;
- Improve collaboration and coordination on the use and applications of Earth observations data from related Societal Benefits Areas.
Resources available for implementation
The co-Leads and Contributors of the C1 have secured funds for the 2012-2015 period for the development of foreseen activities that will assure the preparation of deliverables. Below is reported a brief overview of major funded projects/programs at international and national level for which the co-Leads and Task Contributors are partner or/and coordinator of:
- Global Mercury Observation System (GMOS), funding period from 2010-2015;
- Italian Polar Research Program (PNRA), funding from 2010-2012;
- French Polar Program;
- AMNet is an overarching program, supported by several federal agencies (e.g., EPA, NOAA, USGS, NPS, FWS), states, academic institutions, and others;
- CARIBIC funded by the Max Planck Society, The Helmholtz Association, and the Leibniz Association;
- NOMADSS/SAS (Nitrogen, Oxidants, Mercury and Aerosol: Distributions, Sources and Sinks). project, University of Washington-Bothel;
- Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan, supports the operation of several monitoring sites in Japan, in particular at Okinawa site, and additional activities related to mercury research;
- Government of Canada, supports the operation of several sites in Canada including the Alert site that is specifically part of GMOS;
- Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of the PR China, supports the operation of several sites in China;
- German Environmental Protection Agency (UBA), supports the operation of several sites in Germany, in particular at Waldhof Master Site.
Supporting documents and links
A worldwide community made by scientists from leading universities and research institutions recognised as experts on different aspects related to emissions, monitoring and modelling mercury in the atmosphere and other environmental compartments support the implementation of this task. The following not exhaustive list is under review and should be integrated with new experts.
- Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research (CNR-IIA), ITALY – COORDINATORE
- National Institute for Environmental Studies, JAPAN
- DEADP, SOUTH AFRICA
- US-EPA, USA
- ADEK-INTEC, SURINAME
- NIAES, CAPO VERDE
- UNCo – INIBIOMA CONICET, ARGENTINA
- JRC, BELGIUM
- APLBA, BRAZIL
- JSI, SLOVENIA
- Environment Canada, CANADA
- Institute of Geochemistry, CAS, CHINA
- Tsinghua University, CHINA
- AU-NERI, DENMARK
- IFREMER, FRANCE
- UJF Aurélien, FRANCE
- HZG, GERMANY
- MPI-Chemistry in Mainz, GERMANY
- Anna University Chennai, INDIA
- ISPRA, ITALY
- University of Venice, ITALY
- NILU, NORWAY
- Meteorological Synthesizing Centre – East of EMEP, RUSSIAN FEDERATION
- SPbSU, RUSSIAN FEDERATION
- SAWS, RUSSIAN FEDERATION
- Goteborgs Universitet, SWEDEN
- IVL, SWEDEN
- University of York, UK
- EPRI, USA
- University of Connecticut, USA
- University of Michigan, USA
- University of Washington, USA
- University of Harvard, USA
Project Coordinator - Point of Contact
UNCo - INIBIOMA CONICET
Ian M. Hedgecock
Mainz Franz Slemr
Chennai R. Ramesh
Anna Uni. Chennai
Anna Maria Caricchia
Jozef M. Pacyna
East of EMEP
Uni. of York
Uni. of Connecticut
Uni. of Michigan
Uni. of Washington
Uni. of Harvard