Course introduction from the lead educators

Welcome to ‘Monitoring Atmospheric Composition’. In this course, we will introduce you to the role of ground and air based in situ data and satellite ‘Earth observation’ (EO) technology in monitoring our atmosphere, and to the informative and critically important data and it produces.

The atmosphere, weather and climate are all interdependent parts of the Earth’s life support system. The atmosphere is a finely balanced shared resource that we all rely on in order to survive. However this delicate balance is being put under pressure from multiple factors, such as air pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases, which is in turn having a very real and significant impact on our everyday lives. You will learn more about these factors and impacts throughout this course.

For the first time we now have the ability to monitor aspects of the atmosphere’s composition and condition in near real-time and in remarkable detail, from the ground, the air and also from space. This data is immensely important. It allows us to observe and understand the current state and dynamics of the atmosphere, how it has changed in the past and how it might evolve in the future. An understanding of this provides enormous benefits to public health, security, business and wider societal development. Ultimately being able to monitor the atmosphere at such a level of accuracy and detail means that we are better equipped to deal with and mitigate the damage being done to our atmosphere, and in turn to us.

This course will provide you with an overview of the different ways in which we monitor the atmosphere and will introduce you to the fundamental techniques and methodologies of working with this data. You will also learn about the ways in which this data is used to inform policy and decision making in attempts to negate and minimise the damage that is being done to our atmosphere.

The main topic videos are the backbone of this course, and you can re-watch them as much as you need to. For further context and more detailed explanations you can also read the introductory text provided with each video, explore the optional ‘further reading’ links, and look at in-depth information about the data, imagery and satellites provided in each topic.

We hope you enjoy the course.


This course has been designed and produced for EUMETSAT by Imperative Space. The producers would like to thank all of the academics, experts and institutions who have contributed to and supported production of the course. This includes the universities and research centres to which our onscreen experts are affiliated.

Special thanks goes to: CAMS and ECMWF at Reading, the University of Bremen, the University of Leicester, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and IAGOS

All NASA, ESA and CAMS imagery and animations used throughout this course are used courtesy of NASA, ESA and CAMS.

Don’t forget you can download the video, transcript and take any quizzes available with the links on the right.