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Measurements and Standards to Support Global Climate Change Studies


Much of the world's assessment and critical evaluation of currently available data on contributions to climate change comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Science (IPCC). IPCC was established by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of human induced climate change, its potential impacts, and options for mitigation and adaptation; the IPCC has recently provided its fourth published critical assessment. NIST has begun to respond to the measurement and standards needs associated with global climate change, and will continue to assess new needs as the world moves from assessment to mitigation.


The U.S. government established the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) in 2002 "… to empower the Nation with the science-based knowledge to manage risks and opportunities of change in the climate and related environment systems", and its roots go back to the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The underpinning goals of the CCSP are to improve the understanding of uncertainties in climate science, expand global observing systems, develop science–based resources to support policymaking and resource management and communicate findings broadly among scientific and stakeholder communities.  Each year this body, which encompasses 13 U.S. government agencies including the Department of Commerce, through the Subcommittee on Global Climate Research submits a report to Congress that describes timely expert opinion on the most effective path forward for research in the U.S. This document is presented to Congress by the Secretaries of Energy and Commerce and the director of the Presidential Office of Science and Technology Policy. It describes at a rather high level critical needs and research focus areas of the climate science community in order to address the range of climate problems facing our country, including regional air quality and global climate change as identified by IPCC. The Analytical Chemistry Division has responded to the needs of the climate change community by developing measurements and standards. This research has focused on low concentration volatile organic carbons (VOC) with high radiative forcing, ozone which is a critical species in the atmosphere to understand, the permanent gases which must be measured accurately, and aerosols which are a large factor in radiative forcing but are not well understood.

Major Accomplishments:

  • Development of a Primary Ozone Reference Photometer resulting in a National and International ozone measurement network.
  • Development of standards for compounds which act as tracers for atmospheric processes for the World Meteorology Organization.    
  • Development of new standards to support cleaner automobiles.

Start Date:

October 1, 2002

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit:




George C. Rhoderick
James E. Norris
Christina E. Liaskos

George C. Rhoderick
Phone 301-975-3937

Joseph T. Hodges
Phone 301-975-2605