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In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System


The European Research Infrastructure IAGOS responds to the increasing demand for long-term in-situ observations of greenhouse gases, reactive trace gases and aerosols, by establishing a monitoring infrastructure based on the use of commercial passenger aircraft as measurement platforms. IAGOS provides long-term, frequent, regular, accurate, and spatially resolved in-situ observations of atmospheric chemical composition in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere on a global scale. The infrastructure is designed for global coverage and a lifetime of at least 20 years.

IAGOS combines two complementary approaches:

  • IAGOS-CORE: The CORE component comprises the implementation and operation of autonomous instruments installed on up to 20 long-range aircraft of type Airbus A330/A340 of internationally operating airlines for continuous measurements of important reactive gases (O3, CO, NOx, NOy), greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4), H2O, temperature, aerosol particles and clouds. The fully automated instruments are designed for operation aboard the aircraft in unattended mode for several weeks. The data will be available in near real-time to weather services, Copernicus service centres and atmospheric scientists around the world.
  • IAGOS-CARIBIC: The complementary CARIBIC component consists of the monthly deployment of a cargo container equipped with instrumentation for a larger suite of components. It includes instruments that cannot yet be implemented in full routine operation for measuring e.g. organic compounds or water vapour isotopes. The installation combines instrumentation for in-situ measurements and remote sensing and collection of samples for post-flight analysis in the laboratory.

IAGOS data coverage map

This setup of IAGOS aims at complementing global coverage of key observables on a day-to-day basis with a more complex set of observations with reduced coverage. It is foreseen to operate the infrastructure over long term in order to establish trends of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and aerosols in the free troposphere and in the tropopause region. IAGOS data have been earmarked as being essential for the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. More