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Brussels, 25 January 2011

GMES improves iceberg forecasting and air quality monitoring

Two important European Commission-funded projects were launched in January 2011 for the implementation of Europe's Global Monitoring system for Environment and Security, GMES, following the recent signature of two contracts worth €2 million each. The Icemar project paves the way, for example, for a shortened safe shipping line between Europe and China by bringing better iceberg forecasts to ships in the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic seas. The obsAIRve project will provide real time air quality information and alerts on levels of pollutant emissions, primarily Sulphur Oxides (SOx), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Ozone (O3), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and Particulate Matter (PM), delivered directly to the user online, via smart phone platforms and SMS messages. Icemar and obsAIRve services will be available to citizens by the end of 2012.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "GMES helps us make informed choices in areas concerning our environment, health, safety and security. The signature of these contracts is another important step in moving GMES from a research initiative to an information service to the benefit of citizens, businesses and public institutions."

The benefits of GMES services are becoming increasingly tangible. Combining valuable information from satellites and in-situ measurements on the ground, Europe's flagship GMES initiative taps the potential of space applications for a safer world.

Iceberg forecasting: Icemar

A contract for the Icemar project has been signed with a consortium bringing together companies from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The project will improve the availability and access to sea ice information in the Arctic region, including the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. It will provide continuous and accurate real time information on the ice conditions in these regions, the location and movements of icebergs as well as forecasts. In particular, safe passage through the Arctic Ocean in the summer months would drastically shorten the shipping line between Europe and China – by some 6000 km - leading to substantial savings in time, fuel and CO2 emissions.

Observing air quality: obsAIRve

The obsAIRve project will observe air quality and provide services for European citizens by disseminating processed air quality information directly to people via the Internet, smart phones and SMS messages. The project will reach out to European citizens via existing European, national and local air quality platforms such as the European Environmental Agency's (EEA) Eye on Earth, and major national weather information platforms across Europe that have hundreds of thousands of visitors daily. Citizens will be able to sign up to receiving information and alerts on the levels of pollutant emissions in their area, primarily Sulphur Oxides (SOx), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Ozone (O3), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and Particulate Matter (PM), in real time. The contract has been signed with a consortium of businesses from Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

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