Towards European Research Infrastructures, the road travelled
With the increased importance of satellite imagery of atmospheric species, came the need for highly accurate reference data.
The natural counterpart to remote sensing from space are ground-based remote sensing measurements. Relevant techniques such as solar-absorption FTIR, MAX-DOAS and LIDAR are well established and operated by various international partners around the globe.
BIRA-IASB has a long-standing international reputation in both FTIR and UV-VIS DOAS measurements.
Since consistency between operators is vital (in particular for satellite validation), international networks such as the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC) and the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON) have been set up.
However, progress within these networks, however valuable, is often obtained on an individual operators’ best effort basis.
Planning the road ahead
Seeing the need for a more structural approach, the EU set up operational research infrastructures such as the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) having centralized quality control, training, harmonized protocols and long-term commitment from their partners.
ICOS focusses on in-situ measurements of key (long-lived) greenhouse gas species such as CO2 and CH4.
Efforts to include solar absorption ground-based remote sensing FTIR CO2, CH4 and CO measurements to the ICOS infrastructure are ongoing. Important additional components to the energy balance of the planet are clouds, aerosols and short-lived trace gases.
It is therefore very important to establish a likewise research infrastructure for these measurements.
As a result, BIRA-IASB has been heavily involved in the preparation of ACTRIS (Aerosols, Clouds, Trace Gases Research Infrastructure). It is responsible for setting up the Trace Gas Remote Sensing Topical Center, which will, by 2025, provide services to all participating ACTRIS facilities.