READING, England, May 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
The potential of big data about the Earth's atmosphere to improve resilience and jump-start sustainable economic growth will be the focus of a crucial summit in Athens on 14 - 16 June. The first annual Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) General Assembly will bring together politicians, the scientific and business communities and the European Commission.
Daily forecasts of air quality and greenhouse gases produced by CAMS not only have the potential to help Governments meet pollution targets, driving health benefits and savings, but to support planning and investment in key industries such as solar energy.
An economic reality
Climate change, pollution and severe weather events are challenging the assumptions that underpin Europe's economic and social policy. They take no account of borders and have regional and global economic impacts. Faced with this knowledge, it is incumbent on policymakers, industry and the scientific community not just to work to reduce damaging emissions, but also to equip society to adapt to changes that are already inevitable.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Mediterranean could be one of the regions most affected by an increase in year-to-year variability in summer air temperature. A longer tourist season could bolster local revenue and flatten peaks in energy and water demand, however a higher incidence of heat waves and droughts may put pressure on water resources during the summer months. 
Regulating air quality is also a particular challenge for policymakers due to economic and political pressures.  Moreover, the health impacts of air pollution are much larger than was thought before. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2012 around 7 million premature deaths resulted from air pollution, more than double previous estimates. The new estimate is based on increasing knowledge of air pollution-related diseases and use of improved air quality measurements and technology. According to WHO, outdoor air pollution caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012. Poor air quality and UV solar radiation exposure are expected to worsen because of anthropogenic climate change in central and southern Europe. That is where Copernicus comes in to monitor the composition of the atmosphere and analyse essential climate variables to build a global picture of our climate.
A global perspective to driving regional solutions
The European Union's Copernicus Earth Observation programme uses and contributes to a worldwide network of thousands of sensors on land, in our oceans, and in the air, as well as a network of over 100 satellites. Together they make millions of environmental readings every day. Built on cooperation between agencies across the globe, Copernicus provides free and open access to this data via six services - land, marine, emergency, security, atmosphere and climate.
For policymakers and investors looking for insight into their priorities and climate future it is a game-changing new perspective.
Companies working with ECMWF - which operates the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and Climate Change Service (C3S) on behalf of the European Commission - are already developing products with applications across the health, energy, water, agriculture, financial and urban planning sectors; turning data into insight. The Athens summit is the next stage on that journey, seeking to refine solutions to complex problems.
The size of the opportunity is vast: tourism, sea transport and enterprises are of vital importance to the Greek economy, whilst the proposed Project Helios could set a global benchmark for the potential of large scale solar power. Tackling problems like pollution would not only improve life expectancy and save billions of euros, but also serve to address the root cause of the climate challenge by reducing carbon emissions.
The European Commission expects its Open Data Strategy to deliver a €40 billion annual boost to the EU's economy. For Greece the incentives to build on its natural resources and protect public health are both of economic and moral importance.
Notes for editors
The first Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) General Assembly, 14 - 16 June 2016, Athens, Greece is co-ordinated with support from the Research Center for Climatology of the Academy of Athens, the National Hellenic Meteorological Service and the Mariolopoulos-Kanaginis Foundation for the Environmental Sciences.
We invite journalists to attend the evening reception with the opportunity for interviews.
1. ECMWF has published a COP21 briefing document on "How can big data help us live in a changing environment?" explaining the significance and potential of the Copernicus programme. Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service and Copernicus Climate Change Service have both a website with further information. The COP21 briefing document can be found on both websites:
2. Copernicus is the European Commission's flagship Earth Observation programme that delivers freely accessible operational data and information services. ECMWF has been entrusted to operate two key parts of the Copernicus programme and is assisting with a third to bring a consistent standard to the measurement, forecasting and predicting of atmospheric conditions and climate change:
- The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service provides daily forecasts detailing the makeup composition of the atmosphere from the ground up to the stratosphere.
- The Copernicus Climate Change Service (in development) will routinely monitor and analyse around 20 essential climate variables to build a global picture of our climate, from the past to the future, as well as developing customisable climate indicators in relevant economic sectors.
- The Copernicus Emergency Management Service supports improvements to flood forecasting and understanding of the frequency, variability and consequences of extreme weather.
3. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is an international organisation which specialises in numerical weather prediction and is supported by many European states.
4. The National Meteorological Services in Europe play an integral role in making Copernicus a success.
2. IPCC (2012) http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/
4. IPCC (2014) http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/report/full-report/
5. Wolf et al., (2015) http://www.mdpi.com/2225-1154/3/4/901?trendmd-shared=1
6. UNEP (2014) http://www.unep.org/yearbook/2014/PDF/chapt7.pdf