The first Research Centre in Greece and the Balkans
The Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development (IERSD) is one of three Institutes of the National Observatory of Athens, the first Research Centre in Greece and the Balkans. Initially named as Meteorological Institute (MI), it was established in 1846 while the first meteorological observations began in 1858. IERSD holds the longest and most complete climatological records in Greece, spanning a 150-yrs period. It constituted the first official Meteorological Service of Greece, operating almost all meteorological stations of the existing network until 1931, when the National Meteorological Service was founded.
Besides climatic records, IERSD holds a historical record of atmospheric ozone data, monitored from 1900 to1940, which is unique for Southeastern Europe. Milestone to the evolution of the Institute was the study of atmospheric pollution, well before its evident appearance in Athens, through the systematic monitoring of classical pollutants with a network of six stations. The network was passed to the Ministry of the Environment in 1984 and formed the basis of the National Network for the Monitoring of Atmospheric Pollution.
In 1986, the Institute was renamed as 'Institute of Meteorology and Physics of the Atmospheric Environment' (IMPAE), incorporating in its main activities physics of the atmospheric environment and solar and wind energy, in addition to meteorology and climatology. In parallel, it extended its laboratory and instrumentation facilities, intensified its research efforts with collaboration with numerous Greek and foreign universities and research centres, and continued to provide services to ministries, local authorities and the private sector.
In 1999 the Institute was renamed as Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development (IERSD), in response to the modern environmental challenges for a sustainable future. Its activities expanded further towards the study of impacts of development on the environment, climate change, hydrology & natural resources management, air quality and energy saving.
In this frame, the following activities were gradually initiated:
operational weather forecasting based on state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction models and a – still expanding – network of automated meteorological stations, application of regional climate models (RCMs) for the study of the effect of anthropogenic activities on climate, development of GHG emission inventories for national energy policy planning.
Its infrastructure was further expanded among others with a fully equipped atmospheric chemistry laboratory, the laboratory for meteorological instruments calibration, a mobile air pollution monitoring station, a mobile dual polarization weather radar, a long-range lightning detection network.
Currently, IERSD with its research and consultancy activities has managed to become the national "focal point" for environmental issues and further aims at increasing its competitiveness and added value services in the national economy, environment and society.