Emergency Response Activities (ERA)
WMO's Emergency Response Activities (ERA) programme involves the application of specialized atmospheric dispersion-modelling techniques to track and predict the spread of airborne hazardous substances in the event of an environmental emergency. This kind of specialized application depends directly on the operational infrastructure of the numerical weather prediction systems that are implemented and maintained at many of the global, regional or national meteorological centres within WMO's World Weather Watch system.
The ERA programme was established to assist National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, their respective national agencies and relevant international organizations to respond effectively to environmental emergencies involving large-scale dispersion of air-borne hazardous substances.
Following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986, the programme focused its operational arrangements and support on nuclear facility accidents. The programme is now expanding to emergency response for non-nuclear environmental emergencies such as the dispersion of smoke from large fires, ash and other emissions from volcanic eruptions, and chemical releases from industrial accidents.
WMO has implemented and maintains a system of 10 Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) that provide real-time 24/7 specialized atmospheric dispersion model products for environmental emergency response and/or backtracking. These specialized centres, providing complete global coverage 24 hours a day, every day, are located in National Meteorological Centres at:
- Beijing (China)
- Exeter (United Kingdom)
- Melbourne (Australia)
- Montreal (Canada)
- Obninsk (Russian Federation)
- Offenbach (Germany)
- Tokyo (Japan)
- Toulouse (France)
- Vienna (Austria) - backtracking only
- Washington (USA)
For nuclear emergencies, the system also includes a telecommunication gateway at Offenbach (Germany) to provide notification and real-time information linkage between the Incident and Emergency Centre of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and WMO. When requested, the RSMCs will provide the specialized products within three hours to National Meteorological Centres and the IAEA.
WMO Bulletin - A description of environmental ERA (January 2006)