IASS CWF is an interactive Chemical Weather Forecast map

On this map you can decide what data you wish to see. All you need to do is choose the settings:

In this way you can manage the data you want to see.

You can also find in the tab menu "Pollutants" details and information about this data. There you can explore:

For more information on the MATCH-MPIC/IASS Chemical Weather Forecast System, additional maps etc., please refer to: http://cwf.iass-potsdam.de/

The forecasting service has ceased operations in January 2015.
Only sample data are available for the period from 2015/01/01 to 2015/01/19.

Chemical Weather Forecast Map
data of main air pollutants with a geolocation



Date: Time:




Ozone (O3)

What is ozone?
The whole problem with ozone is that where there should be ozone (Earth's upper atmosphere), there isn’t enough, and where there shouldn't be any (at ground level), there is too much. This means that there is good ozone and bad ozone.
Ozone is composed of three atoms of oxygen. It is an important component of the atmosphere because it absorbs harmful UV radiation from the sun. This is the good ozone at work and it happens at an altitude of ca. 20-25 km above sea level (lower stratosphere). There the ozone is formed naturally in a process whereby photons of UV radiation collide with oxygen molecules to build the ozone layer that protects us from the suns harmful effects.
In the lower atmosphere there exists "bad ozone". This occurs near ground level and is formed from chemical reactions involving nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds usually derived from industrial and automobile exhausts which react chemically in the presence of sunlight. The total ozone content in all layers of the atmosphere undergo daily and seasonal changes according to the availability of sunlight (hot, sunny days = more ozone in the air).
What are the sources of ground-level ozone?
Contrary to other air pollutants at ground-level, ozone is not directly emitted into the atmosphere but instead comes from the chemical reactions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and the oxidation of nitrogen (NOx) in the presence of sunlight.
The main sources of emissions involved in the process of ozone formation are:
  • energy sector (e.g. fossil-fuel power stations)
  • transport (vehicle exhaust)
  • industry (emissions from heavy industrial facilities and also light industry like gas stations, mining and fuel distribution)
  • paints and cleaners
  • agriculture and landfills
Wind direction and terrain can cause high concentrations of ozone in places far away from the source of primary emissions. Ozone can therefore be transported over long distances, sometimes hundreds of kilometers away.
Ozone and human health
Ozone can cause such symptoms as:
  • in low concentrations: cough, eye irritation, aggravation of asthma, decreased lung capacity, headache.
  • in higher concentrations: damage to the lungs, increased susceptibility to infections, symptoms of apathy. Very high concentrations can cause pulmonary oedema.
What can I do to reduce emissions?
  • use your bike instead of a car or motor vehicle during warm sunny days
  • if possible, use environmentally friendly paints and cleaning agents

Carbon monoxide (CO)

What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odorless and highly poisonous gas. It is slightly lighter than air, which makes it easily mixed at ground level.
What are the sources of CO?
Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as wood, oil, natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, propane and coal due to the lack of adequate amounts of oxygen necessary for complete combustion. This is especially dangerous in closed or poorly ventilated houses (combustion heating devices) or in garages (inadequate exhaust). CO is also produced during the high-temperature combustion of fuels such as coal and petroleum as well as the byproduct from internal combustion engines (car exhaust). There are also natural sources of CO like volcanic eruptions and the natural burning of biomass.
CO and human health
Carbon monoxide enters the body through the respiratory system and is absorbed into the bloodstream. The human respiratory system binds carbon monoxide to haemoglobin much faster than oxygen, therefore blocking the flow of oxygen to the body. This presents a serious threat to human life and health by causing serious damage to the brain and other vital organs. Strong CO poisoning can even cause death. In outdoor environments, the accumulation of CO in air may cause headaches, dizziness and sleepiness.
What can I do to reduce emissions?
Use your bike instead of a car or motor vehicle.

Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx)

What are nitrogen oxides?
NOx is a group of inorganic compounds composed of oxygen and nitrogen. Nitrogen oxides are one of the more dangerous pollutants in the atmosphere. From among the several compounds of this type, the most important are nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide. Nitrogen dioxide is toxic, and is a regulated air pollutant.
What are the sources of NOx?
Both nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide occur mainly in urban environments and are formed as a result of human activity. These emissions come from high-temperature combustion processes combining with the natural atmosphere. Nitrogen oxides are also formed in several other industrial processes such as the production of nitric acid, sulphuric acid, cellulose, fertilizers, during welding of metals and digestion processes but the main sources of nitrogen oxides are motor vehicles.
Nitrigen oxides and human health
High levels of nitrogen oxide exposure can cause coughing and breathing difficulties. Very high levels can cause decreased oxygen levels in arterial blood. Prolonged exposure can cause respiratory infections.
What can I do to reduce emissions?
Use public transportation instead of a car. If the weather is nice use your bike or walk. Conserve energy at home.

Want more?

Chemistry of Short-Lived Climate-Forcing Pollutants on the IASS web page

What is IASS?

IASS (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies) in Potsdam Germany is a trans-disciplinary and international research institute with a focus on climate change, the components of the earth system and sustainability. The main purpose of the Institute is to exchange scientific information and dialogue from research, policy, economics, society and culture. This work is achieved through “the initiation of strategic dialogue with representatives of the world economy, politics, society and arts and the dissemination of scientific results.” (IASS 2013).

What is a chemical weather forecast?

Everyone knows the conventional weather forecast parameters like temperature, air pressure, humidity and probability of rain. Weather forecasts are an integral part of everyday life, but most of us only check them to plan for the next day or just to answer the most common question - what should I wear today? The weather forecast helps us in daily life, but meteorological parameters are not the only things which can be predicted. In fact it’s also possible to predict concentrations of chemical pollutants. But why could the forecast of air quality be interesting for the broader audience?

What does it mean to me?

Air pollution problem doesn’t only include the well known issues like greenhouse gases, acid rain or the ozone hole. All of us should have knowledge about air pollution and its threats to our health and environment. The consequences of high air pollution can be dangerous for human health e.g. respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer. It may also cause problems with breathing, asthma and circulation. Everyone can react to air pollution in different ways depending on the type of pollutant, exposure time, other meteorological variables like temperature, humidity, wind etc. Especially at risk to the harmful effects of air pollution are children, the elderly, people with health problems or people with a genetic predisposition. So if you see on the map that the air pollution is very high in your city, it might be better to stay home.

Maybe you think you can't do anything about the environment or air quality and that this job is for environmental organizations and policy makers. But what if everyone on this planet thinks this way?

The causes of air pollution don’t only come from industrial facilities. A large part comes from transport and the use of solvents i.e. paints, varnishes, adhesives, cleaning agents, etc. So if everyone could reduce their consumption of these things, e.g. ride a bike instead if driving, the emission of the air pollutants could be lower.

Useful links:

If you want to know more you can find further information from the links below:

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IASS Potsdam - Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V.

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