NOAA/ESRL's Global Monitoring Division (GMD) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducts research that addresses three major challenges including greenhouse gas and carbon cycle feedbacks, changes in clouds, aerosols, and surface radiation, and recovery of stratospheric ozone. GMD’s five research groups – Carbon Cycle and Greenhouse Gases (CCGG), Halocarbons and other Atmospheric Trace Species (HATS), Ozone and Water Vapor (OZWV), Aerosols (AERO), and Global Radiation (G-RAD) – make and analyze observations, applying their expertise to address these themes. The unique observing systems operated by each research group come together at GMD’s four baseline observatories, which serve as the backbone of the GMD observing system. However, most of the measurements from each group are made at other locations, including collaborator sites, sites in other networks, and on ships and aircraft. GMD’s research groups work together in developing and maintaining their observing networks and, especially, in understanding, interpreting, and publishing results.

gmd research barrow observatory mauna loa observatory american samoa observatory south pole observatory carbon cycle research solar radiation and aerosols stratospheric ozone aerosols carbon cycle global radiation halocarbons ozone and water vapor research themes

GMD’s observations and research are critical to sustaining and preserving long-term observing records around the world. Because of the geographic coverage of GMD’s observing systems, consistent high quality, and relevance to ongoing scientific endeavors, GMD’s influence reaches well beyond monitoring, research, and scientific publications. Ultimately, GMD provides numerous products and services in support of the scientific community and society; fundamental, world-class data sets and analyses for national and international assessments; calibration, quality control, and observing sites to support international networks; leadership in national and international organizations; data for the validation and evaluation of satellite and modeling products; and improved forecasting for renewable energy resources. Tying research to applications results in the development of a variety of products supporting society.

GMD’s vision and mission support the broader objectives of NOAA’s Strategic Plan and are aligned with the vision and mission of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR).

NOAA Strategic Plan Elements

ESRL/GMD’s monitoring and research generally fall under the NOAA Strategic Plan Element to “Predict and Assess Decadal to Centennial Change” although much of the research at ESRL/GMD is relevant to other time scales included in the Strategic Plan. For example, interannual variations in the carbon dioxide growth rate are of major importance in studying carbon dioxide sources and sinks. Interannnual climate variations, such as those caused by the El Niño phenomenon, have an effect on sources and sinks of climatically important gases.

Objectives under the NOAA Decadal to Centennial Change Element applicable to GMD are:

  • Characterize the Forcing Agents of Climate Change
  • Ensure a Long-Term Climate Record
  • Guide the Rehabilitation of the Ozone Layer
  • Provide the Scientific Basis for Improved Air Quality


Society using the best possible information to inform decisions on climate change, weather variability, carbon cycle feedbacks, and ozone depletion.


To acquire, evaluate, and make available accurate, long-term records of atmospheric gases, aerosol particles, clouds, and surface radiation in a manner that allows the causes and consequences of change to be understood.

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