The atmosphere is the thin protective layer of Earth that protects us from harmful radiation, moderates temperature differences and redistributes heat energy, water and pollutants: almost all life depends on it. This protective function is maintained by delicate balances and is vulnerable to global changes in climate and land use. The main drivers of climate change are the radiative effects of greenhouse gases and aerosols, which affect the composition and impact of the atmosphere on all aspects of societal activities. As a result of ongoing anthropogenic emissions, the concentrations of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) in the atmosphere continue to increase. Special measuring stations, which evaluate the characteristic weakening of thermal radiation from the sun caused by the Earth's atmosphere, make it possible to track this increase precisely and thus to deduce the spatial distribution of the sources and to determine changes in emissions over time.
KIT operates ground-based remote sensing measurements with Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometers (FTIR). They are used to measure the concentration of trace gases in the atmosphere. These measurements can be used to derive not only short-term fluctuations but also long-term trends in trace gases relevant to the greenhouse or ozone layer. These measurements are carried out as part of the international measurement networks COCCON (Collaborative Carbon Column Observing Network) and TCCON (Total Column Carbon Observation Network). The example of the Karlsruhe station shows the significant increase in CO2 and CH4 very well.
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Last updated at: 25.11.2022