The French scientific community has decided that the best way of tackling the environmental issues facing us at the beginning of this century in atmospheric chemistry (pollution and the interaction between chemistry and the climate), is to set up a Thematic Expertise Group with the help of CNES (Centre National dEtudes Spatiales) and INSU (Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers). The aim is to facilitate access to and encourage exploitation of all data and expert knowledge in this field.
The Ether Thematic Expertise Group uses the Ether Products and Services Centre, developed around a knowledge base and database accessible via the Internet. Its themes include the scientific priorities defined in the National Programme for Atmospheric Chemistry (PNCA) which supports several French activities, as well as subjects of interest to more than just the French scientific community, including institutional or industrial users and the international community through various partnerships.
The activities pursued by the Ether group range from local to global studies, from the lower troposphere to the stratosphere, with time spans from a few seconds to several decades.
The database includes measurements acquired by satellite, balloons and aircraft or from other sources and the aim is to make them available to the entire scientific community for exploitation by modelling or assimilation. Ether is also a vehicle for discussion and information on related scientific themes that may lead to greater comprehension and better use of existing data.
The Ether Thematic Expertise Group includes not only a Products and Services Centre but also Centres of Expertise within the laboratories working on instruments, models, scientific algorithms and data related to atmospheric chemistry. The Ether group's operations are directed by a Science Manager who is responsible for preparing and monitoring programme activities, as well as by two consultation and monitoring committees: the Users Committee, the Steering Committee and a Bureau.