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History of the International Ozone Commission

Rumen D. Bojkov has written a comprehensive document detailing the history of the IOC. (PDF format)

The International Ozone Commission (IO3C)
Its history and activities related to atmospheric ozone


Older Summary Information:

These few paragraphs represent only a short overview of the more than half century of existence of the Commission provided by Rumen D. Bojkov and edited by D. Wuebbles. It includes list of IO3C members since its formal establishment in 1948 and list of major ozone meetings and symposiums held in the past by the initiative and/or with major participation by Commission members. In due time, with some help from other members, he is planning to augment these notes by collecting a more complete history to include major resolutions (some of which are very much valid until the present time!) and materials related to the essential impact of IO3C on the development of the ozone science.

The first international Conference on Ozone was held in Paris in 1929 at the initiative of Prof. Ch. Fabry. It discussed work recently done on atmospheric ozone and started an attempt to co-ordinate the research which should be undertaken in the future. The Conference proved a great success both in the discussions and in bringing together those scientists of different countries who were working on these problems. They expressed the wish to form a formal affiliation to assist exchange of scientific results. The International Union for Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) was the only relevant international organization, with its International Association for Meteorology (now IAMAS) that could appropriately host such a group of scientists interested in the atmospheric ozone.

Before the World War II, the Commission's mother Association IAMAS had only one permanent scientific commission, on Solar Radiation formed in Madrid in 1924. At the Lisbon assembly of the Association in 1933, the Radiation Commission, "in recognition to the importance of ozone research for better understanding of the stratosphere," established a Committee on Ozone. Its composition was Prof. G.M.B. Dobson (UK), Prof. Ch. Fabry (France) and Prof. F.W.P. Gotz (Switzerland). At that meeting two papers related to ozone: "Report on Ozone Research" by G.M.B. Dobson and F.W.P. Gotz and "On the progress of the methods for study of atmospheric ozone" by Ch. Fabry.

At the next assembly of the Association in Edinburg in 1936, two papers related to ozone: "The role of ozone in the temperature distribution in the stratosphere" by R. Penndorf and "The absorption of solar radiation in the atmosphere and its relation to atmospheric temperature and ozone content" by Oliver R. Wulf and Lola S. Deming. The small number is due to the fact that a major Conference on Atmospheric Ozone was held in Oxford the previous week (9-11 September). At that Conference, 29 papers (75 pages) were presented. In Edinburg, the Committee on Ozone were allocated international funds for purchasing of three Dobson spectrometers for augmentation of the ozone stations in Europe "in order to determine the relations between the ozone variations and the meteorological conditions" . The implementation of this action was completed only after the War.

An Ozone Conference, with limited international participation due to the circumstances, was held on 17 and 18 April 1944 in Tharandt (Germany). At least 14 papers were presented by members of the Committee on Ozone and other leading scientists e.g. F.W.P. Gotz, R.Penndorf, A. Ehmert, E. Regener, D. Stranz. Proceedings of this conference (71 pages) were published in 1949 by Prof. Ludwig Weickmann.

After World War II, at the assembly of the Association in Oslo in 1948, the International Ozone Commission was formally established as the second scientific commission of the Association. (Footnote: presently the IAMAS has eight commissions´┐ŻK). This was an event of major importance giving official recognition to the importance of ozone monitoring and research. The aims of the Commission were defined as "In accordance with the programme of the Association to organise an ozone survey for Western Europe and at the same time assist the establishment of ozone stations in other parts of the world as opportunity presented itself" and to guide the stations operations to be conducted in comparable manner. The Commission President (Prof. Dobson) and Secretary (Sir Charles Normand) were located at Oxford, where they arranged in the next 2-3 years to rebuild and calibrate more than two dozen spectrophotometers. They started to act as a centre for data exchange between the number of co-operating stations which included stations in France, Germany, India, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland. From funds provided by UNESCO and other sources to support the Association activities, allocation was made to the Ozone Commission for one more Dobson - later to be sent on loan to Ireland. This was in addition to the three Dobson instruments purchased just before the war, now modernised in Oxford and sent on loan: two to Norway and one to Arosa. The names of the 8 members forming the IO3C are given in the list of members. At Oslo was held an Ozone Symposium at which a total of 18 papers were presented by S. Chapman, F.W.P. Gotz, Ch. Normand, E. Regener, E. Tonsberg, R. Tousey (with K.Watanabe, J.D. Purcell, F.S. Johnson), G. Walton, H.U. Dutsch, H.K. Paetzold, R.J. Reed (with A.L. Julius), A.W. Brewer, E.H. Gowan, S. Fritz, A. Ehmert, H. Ungeheuer, Y. Miyake (with K. Saruhashi), R.H. Kay and by G.M.B. Dobson (with Ch. Normand, R.H. Kay).

At the next two meetings of the IO3C held in Brussels (1951) and in Rome (1954) reports were presented on ongoing ozone research: 15 papers were presented in Brussels and 18 were published from Rome. The latter includes an extensive review on "Atmospheric ozone and the general circulation of the atmosphere" as the IAMAS Presidential Address by Prof. K.R. Ramanathan. Along with the scientific review, the main issues discussed were related to the preparations for the ozone measurements in the forthcoming International Geophysical Year (IGY). The responsibility for organising the intergovernmental collaboration, including the near-real-time data collections and periodic instruments calibrations, were growing, extending the ability of the office of the Secretary of the Commission which was working on a voluntary basis. Out of this stressful period, the first formal understandings for collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) were developed. WMO took over the collection of the data for IGY and the responsibility for continuously implementing a uniform operational procedures and calibrations acting on scientific advise by the IO3C.

The following is a list of membership at past meetings of the IO3C:

More notes on the history of the IO3C will be added in due time along the progress of the preparations co-ordinated by Rumen D. Bojkov.