York symposium puts focus on chemical 'weather'

June 04, 2008

Scientists gather in York next week to discuss new approaches to one of science's greatest challenges - predicting the earth's chemical weather.

Five years ago, Professor Peter Bernath, of the Department of Chemistry at York, helped to establish the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) satellite mission.

To mark the fifth anniversary, a symposium hosted by the University at the King's Manor in York will review the achievements of mission, and discuss plans for its future.

Collaborators on ACE, as well as representatives of other space missions, including Aura, the multi-national NASA scientific research satellite, and the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite, will also attend the three-day event.

The original objective of ACE was to monitor the ozone layer, but its function has evolved, and it is now principally used to monitor air quality and atmospheric pollution.

Professor Bernath said: "The ACE satellite was only intended to last for two years but it is working better now than when it was launched, mainly because the ice, which built up inside spacecraft soon after it went into orbit, has now disappeared.

"The ACE collaborators meet regularly but to mark our fifth anniversary, we wanted a broader representation from other satellite projects both from the US and Europe" Professor Bernath added.

"Air quality in the UK, for instance, is affected by the transport of pollutants from North America. So, if winds are transporting this stuff around the world then you need a global perspective and only satellites can give you that.

"When ACE was launched, the primary mission goal was to monitor the ozone layer but other things have now come to the forefront such as climate change. People are now much more concerned about air quality and air pollution and less so about the ozone layer because the Montreal Protocol, which was established to address that problem, seems to be working."
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University of York

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