Emergency Response Activities (ERA)
WMO's Emergency Response Activities (ERA) programme involves the application of specialized atmospheric transport and 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 airborne 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 was gradually expanded to emergency response for non-nuclear environmental emergencies such as the dispersion of smoke from large fires, chemical releases and fire/smoke from industrial accidents.
WMO has implemented and maintains a system of Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) that provide real-time 24/7 specialized atmospheric dispersion model products for environmental emergency response and backtracking. These specialized centres, providing complete global coverage 24 hours a day, every day, are located in National Meteorological Centres at:
- Beijing (China) – Nuclear
- Exeter (United Kingdom) – Nuclear
- Melbourne (Australia) – Nuclear
- Montreal (Canada) – Nuclear and non-nuclear
- Obninsk (Russian Federation) – Nuclear
- Offenbach (Germany) – Nuclear and non-nuclear
- Tokyo (Japan) – Nuclear
- Toulouse (France) – Nuclear and non-nuclear
- Vienna (Austria) – Nuclear
- Washington (USA) – Nuclear
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 the WMO.