Atmospheric Chemistry Observational Databases

Atmospheric Chemistry Observational Databases

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Over the last two centuries many atmospheric chemical observations have been made from a variety of ground-based, airborne
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

, and orbital
Orbital spaceflight
An orbital spaceflight is a spaceflight in which a spacecraft is placed on a trajectory where it could remain in space for at least one orbit. To do this around the Earth, it must be on a free trajectory which has an altitude at perigee above...

 platforms and deposited in databases. Many of these databases are publicly available. All of the instruments mentioned in this article give online public access to their data. These observations are critical in developing our understanding of the Earth's atmosphere
Earth's atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

 and issues such as climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

, ozone depletion
Ozone depletion
Ozone depletion describes two distinct but related phenomena observed since the late 1970s: a steady decline of about 4% per decade in the total volume of ozone in Earth's stratosphere , and a much larger springtime decrease in stratospheric ozone over Earth's polar regions. The latter phenomenon...

 and air quality. Some of the external links provide repositories of many of these datasets in one place. For example, the Cambridge Atmospheric Chemical Database, is a large database
A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...

 in a uniform ASCII
The American Standard Code for Information Interchange is a character-encoding scheme based on the ordering of the English alphabet. ASCII codes represent text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices that use text...

 format. Each observation is augmented with the meteorological conditions such as the temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

, potential temperature, geopotential height
Geopotential height
Geopotential height is a vertical coordinate referenced to Earth's mean sea level — an adjustment to geometric height using the variation of gravity with latitude and elevation. Thus it can be considered a "gravity-adjusted height"...

, and equivalent PV
Potential vorticity
Potential vorticity is a quantity which is proportional to the dot product of vorticity and stratification that, following a parcel of air or water, can only be changed by diabatic or frictional processes...


Ground-based and balloon observations

  • NDSC observations. The Network for the Detection for Stratospheric Change (NDSC) is a set of high-quality remote-sounding research stations for observing and understanding the physical and chemical state of the stratosphere. Ozone and key ozone-related chemical compounds and parameters are targeted for measurement. The NDSC is a major component of the international upper atmosphere research effort and has been endorsed by national and international scientific agencies, including the International Ozone Commission, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The primary instruments and measurements are: Ozone lidar (vertical profiles of ozone from the tropopause to at least 40 km altitude; in some cases tropospheric ozone will also be measured). Temperature lidar (vertical profiles of temperature from about 30 to 80 km). Aerosol lidar (vertical profiles of aerosol optical depth in the lower stratosphere). Water vapor lidar (vertical profiles of water vapor in the lower stratosphere). Ozone microwave (vertical profiles of stratospheric ozone from 20 to 70 km). H2O microwave (vertical profiles water vapor from about 20 to 80 km). ClO microwave (vertical profiles of ClO from about 25 to 45 km, depending on latitude). Ultraviolet/Visible spectrograph (column abundance of ozone, NO2, and, at some latitudes, OClO and BrO). Fourier Transform Infrared spectrometer (column abundances of a broad range of species including ozone, HCl, NO, NO2, ClONO2, and HNO3).
  • MkIV observations. The MkIV Interferometer is a Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FTIR) Spectrometer, designed and built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena...

     in 1984, to remotely sense the composition of the Earth's atmosphere by the technique of solar absorption spectrometry. This was born out of concern that man-made pollutants (e.g. chlorofluorocarbons, aircraft exhaust) might perturb the ozone layer. Since 1984, the MkIV Interferometer has participated in 3 NASA DC-8 polar aircraft campaigns, and has successfully completed 15 balloon flights. In addition, the MkIV Interferometer made over 900 days of ground-based observations from many different locations, including McMurdo
    McMurdo Station
    McMurdo Station is a U.S. Antarctic research center located on the southern tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program, a branch of the National...

    , Antarctica in 1986.
  • Sonde observations. The World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre (WOUDC) is one of five World Data Centres which are part of the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) programme of the World Meteorological Organization
    World Meteorological Organization
    The World Meteorological Organization is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 189 Member States and Territories. It originated from the International Meteorological Organization , which was founded in 1873...

     (WMO). The WOUDC is operated by the Experimental Studies Division of the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) — formerly Atmospheric Environment Service (AES), Environment Canada and is located in Toronto. The WOUDC began as the World Ozone Data Centre (WODC) in 1960 and produced its first data publication of Ozone Data for the World in 1964. In June 1992, the AES agreed to a request from the WMO to add ultraviolet radiation data to the WODC. The Data Centre has since been renamed to the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre (WOUDC) with the two component parts: the WODC and the World Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre (WUDC).

Airborne observations

  • Aircraft observations. Many aircraft campaigns have been conducted as part of the Suborbital Science Program and by the Earth Science Project Office an overview of these campaigns is available. The data can be accessed from the Earth Science Project Office archives.
  • MOZAIC observations. The MOZAIC program (Measurement of OZone and water vapour by AIrbus in-service airCraft) was initiated in 1993 by European scientists, aircraft manufacturers and airlines to collect experimental data. Its goal is to help understand the atmosphere and how it is changing under the influence of human activity, with particular interest in the effects of aircraft. MOZAIC consists of automatic and regular measurements of ozone and water vapour by five long range passenger airliners flying all over the world. The aim is to build a large database of measurements to allow studies of chemical and physical processes in the atmosphere, and hence to validate global chemistry transport models. MOZAIC data provide, in particular, detailed ozone and water vapour climatologies at 9–12 km where subsonic aircraft emit most of their exhaust and which is a very critical domain (e.g. radiatively and S/T exchanges) still imperfectly described in existing models. This will be valuable to improve knowledge about the processes occurring in the upper troposphere/ lower stratosphere (UT/LS), and the model treatment of near tropopause chemistry and transport. The MOZAIC data is restricted access, to obtain access the forms need to be filled out.

Space shuttle observations

  • ATMOS observations. The Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy experiment (ATMOS) is an infrared spectrometer (a Fourier transform interferometer) that is designed to study the chemical composition of the atmosphere. In this section you will be able to read both general and detailed information as to why and how the instrument works. The ATMOS instrument has flown four times on the Space Shuttle since 1985. The predecessor to ATMOS, flown on aircraft and high altitude balloon platforms, was born in the early 1970s out of concern for the effects of Super Sonic Transport exhaust products on the ozone layer. The experiment was redesigned for the Space Shuttle when the potential for ozone destruction by man-made chlorofluorocarbons was discovered and the need for global measurements became crucial.
  • CRISTA observations. CRISTA is short for CRyogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere. It is a limb-scanning satellite experiment, designed and developed by the University of Wuppertal to measure infrared emissions of the Earth's atmosphere. Equipped with three telescopes and four spectrometers and cooled with liquid helium, CRISTA acquires global maps of temperature and atmospheric trace gases with very high horizontal and vertical resolution. The design enables the observation of small scale dynamical structures in the 15–150 km altitude region.

Satellite observations

  • ACE observations. The Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) satellite, also known as SCISAT-1
    SCISAT-1 is a Canadian satellite designed to make observations of the Earth's atmosphere. Its most important instrument is an optical Fourier transform infrared spectrometer, the ACE-FTS Instrument...

    , is a Canadian satellite that makes measurements of the Earth's atmosphere and follows in heritage of ATMOS.
  • Aura
    Aura (satellite)
    Aura is a multi-national NASA scientific research satellite in orbit around the Earth, studying the Earth's ozone layer, air quality and climate. It is the third major component of the Earth Observing System following on Terra and Aqua...

    . Aura flies in formation with the NASA
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

    Earth Observing System
    The Earth Observing System is a program of NASA comprising a series of artificial satellite missions and scientific instruments in Earth orbit designed for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, atmosphere, and oceans of the Earth. The satellite component of the program was...

     "A Train," a collection of several other satellites (Aqua, CALIPSO, CloudSat and the French PARASOL). Aura carries four instruments for studies of atmospheric chemistry: MLS
    Microwave Limb Sounder
    The Microwave Limb Sounder experiments measure microwave thermal emission from the limb of Earth's upper atmosphere...

    , HIRDLS, TES and OMI.
  • ILAS observations. ILAS (Improved Limb Atmospheric Spectrometer) developed by MOE (the Ministry of the Environment) (formerly EA - Environment Agency of Japan) is boarded on ADEOS (Advanced Earth Observing Satellite). On August 17, 1996, ADEOS was launched by the H-II rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center of Japan (ADEOS was renamed as "MIDORI") and stopped its operation on June 30, 1997. Data obtained by ILAS are processed, archived, and distributed by NIES (National Institute for Environmental Studies).
  • POAM observations. The Polar Ozone and Aerosol Measurement II (POAM II) instrument was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to measure the vertical distribution of atmospheric ozone, water vapor, nitrogen dioxide, aerosol extinction, and temperature. POAM II measures solar extinction in nine narrow band channels, covering the spectral range from approximately 350 to 1060 nm.
  • Sulfate aerosol observations from SAGE and HALOE. The SAGE II (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II) sensor was launched into a 57 degree inclination orbit aboard the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) in October 1984. During each sunrise and sunset encountered by the orbiting spacecraft, the instrument uses the solar occultation technique to measure attenuated solar radiation through the Earth's limb in seven channels centered at wavelengths ranging from 0.385 to 1.02 micrometers. The retrieval of stratospheric aerosol size distributions based on HALOE multi-wavelength particle extinction measurements was described by Hervig et al. [1998]. That approach yields unimodal lognormal size distributions, which describe the aerosol concentration versus radius using three parameters: total aerosol concentration, median radius, and distribution width. This site offers results based on the Hervig et al. [1998] technique, with one exception. The retrieval results reported here are based on sulfate refractive indices for 215 K, where Hervig et al. [1998] used room temperature indices adjusted to stratospheric temperatures using the Lorentz-Lorenz rule. Size distributions were only retrieved at altitudes above tropospheric cloud tops. Clouds were identified using techniques described by Hervig and McHugh [1999]. The HALOE size distributions are offered in NetCDF files containing data for a single year. The results are reported on a uniform altitude grid ranging from 6 to 33 km at 0.3 km spacing. The native HALOE altitude spacing is 0.3 km, so this interpolation has little or no effect on the data. The files report profile data including: altitude, pressure, temperature, aerosol concentration, median radius, distribution width, aerosol composition. Aerosol surface area and volume densities can be easily calculated from the size distribution parameters using the relationships given here.
  • Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite
    Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite
    The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite was a NASA-operated orbital observatory whose mission was to study the Earth’s atmosphere, particularly the protective ozone layer. The satellite was deployed from Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-48 mission on September 15, 1991...

    (UARS) observations. Data from the UARS is available from the GES Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC). The UARS satellite was launched in 1991 by the Space Shuttle Discovery. It is 35 feet (10.7 m) long, 15 feet (4.6 m) in diameter, weighs 13,000 pounds, and carries 10 instruments. UARS orbits at an altitude of 375 miles (603.5 km) with an orbital inclination of 57 degrees. UARS measured ozone and chemical compounds found in the ozone layer which affect ozone chemistry and processes. UARS also measured winds and temperatures in the stratosphere as well as the energy input from the Sun. Together, these helped define the role of the upper atmosphere in climate and climate variability.

Related observations

  • Surface albedo
    Albedo , or reflection coefficient, is the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface. It is defined as the ratio of reflected radiation from the surface to incident radiation upon it...

    . The surface reflectivity is of importance for atmospheric photolysis. Instruments such as the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) and the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) provide daily global fields.

See also

  • Acid rain
    Acid rain
    Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions . It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen...

  • Atmospheric chemistry
    Atmospheric chemistry
    Atmospheric chemistry is a branch of atmospheric science in which the chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere and that of other planets is studied. It is a multidisciplinary field of research and draws on environmental chemistry, physics, meteorology, computer modeling, oceanography, geology and...

  • Greenhouse gas
    Greenhouse gas
    A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

  • International Global Atmospheric Chemistry
    International Global Atmospheric Chemistry
    The International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project, under joint sponsorship of the Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences and the International Geosphere- Biosphere Programme , was created in the late...

  • Ozone
    Ozone , or trioxygen, is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope...

  • Pollution
    Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

  • Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion
    Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion
    The Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion is a sequence of reports sponsored by WMO/UNEP. The most recent is the .The reports were set up to inform the Montreal Protocol and amendments about ozone depletion.- Changes in Ozone-Depleting Compounds :...

External links