Airlines help researchers understand global climate change

Jun 21, 2013
Airlines help researchers understand global climate change

Commercial aircraft are now being used to collect data which helps scientists to measure greenhouse gases, aerosols and cloud particles. This allows the collection of observational data on a scale and in numbers impossible to achieve using research aircraft alone.

The IAGOS-ERI project ('In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System - European ') has developed high-tech instruments for regular in-situ measurements of . This input is essential for climate research, emissions monitoring, and air quality forecasting.

The project, with EU-funding of over EUR 3 million, builds on 20 years of scientific and technological experience gained from previous EU-supported research projects: MOZAIC ('Measurement of Ozone and Water Vapour on Airbus in-service Aircraft'), and CARIBIC ('Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the Atmosphere Based on an Instrument Container'). This has enabled the project to tap into a growing community of research institutions and airlines, within an international consortium of 15 partners.

But the plan is to go global. IAGOS-ERI aims to operate a distributed infrastructure for long-term observations of . This will be achieved thanks to a fleet of 10-20 long-range in-service aircraft operated by recognised airlines. The team is keen to attract more airlines to use the IAGOS-ERI instruments, and to set up a . This would help scientists to take the project to another level in understanding air quality and atmospheric changes around the world.

Dr Andreas Volz-Thomas from the Institute for Energy and Climate Research of Forschungszentrum Jülich (GmbH) in Germany, and leading the research group, says: 'We have already installed IAGOS equipment on the airplanes of Lufthansa and China Airlines. Other installations will occur on Air France, Cathay Pacific and Iberia Airlines. By the end of this year, five aircraft will have our instruments installed.'

He points out that meeting the aviation safety standards and research demands presents a great engineering and scientific challenge. Dr Volz-Thomas explains: 'We have just returned from Malta, where we tested new instruments on a Lufthansa airplane for safe operation. Every six months the equipment is replaced on the airplane for maintenance and quality assurance. The data on ozone and carbon monoxide are analysed in France, while data on nitrogen oxides, water vapour and aerosol are analysed in Germany, and cloud particle measurements in the United Kingdom. So it is quite a complex process. But by doing this we can maintain a comprehensive database for and air quality.'

The project will end later this year, but through national funding, IAGOS-ERI will continue their valuable work monitoring the atmosphere, including developing novel atmospheric observation systems which can be installed on a range of aircraft models.

Explore further: New signs of eruption at Iceland volcano

More information: IAGOS-ERI

Project factsheet

Forschungszentrum Jülich

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User comments : 5

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5 / 5 (6) Jun 21, 2013
Such a great idea.
1.6 / 5 (20) Jun 21, 2013
"Global Climate Change"

We'll grow papaya in Nebraska, oranges in Alaska, dairy farms in Greenland and grape vineyards in Scotland.

Oh -- What a wonderful world.
4.7 / 5 (12) Jun 21, 2013
"Global Climate Change"

We'll grow papaya in Nebraska, oranges in Alaska, dairy farms in Greenland and grape vineyards in Scotland.

Oh -- What a wonderful world.

If that was a non-sarcastic comment you are seriously puddled.

" Orange trees thrive in temperatures between 55 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit with winter temperatures between 35 and 50 F. Mature orange trees can withstand temperatures down to 25 F for about 10 hours during winter dormancy. Trees bearing fruit can withstand about three to five hours below or at 27 F, but ice forms after longer periods, damaging the twigs and fruits of trees."

Where do you reckon the sea-level would be in a world that allowed that sort of climate in Alaska?

Nightmare I say.
1 / 5 (8) Jun 23, 2013
Would anyone have read this if the title was: "Airlines help researchers understand atmosphere composition"?
3.3 / 5 (10) Jun 23, 2013
Would anyone have read this if the title was: "Airlines help researchers understand atmosphere composition"?

Would a competent journalist write a headline that would be ignored by potential readers?