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A multi-pronged effort needed to enhance measurements of GHG vertical profiles
by Dr. Colm Sweeney, Dr. Christoph Gerbig, Dr. Britton Stephens, Dr. Bianca Baier, Dr. Kathryn McKain


For several decades, aircraft, and now balloon, vertical profiles of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have provided a critical constraint for satellite retrievals, forward and inverse models, and for our basic understanding of the carbon cycle and processes that drive changes in the atmospheric burden of GHGs. Despite the powerful constraint that vertical profiles provide, planned campaigns and routine profiling programs are globally sparse and insufficient given the challenges of interpreting remote sensing measurements and models that track the atmospheric composition of GHGs, which depend on significant bias corrections, highly accurate transport models and underlying ocean and land processes. The technology is available for the rapid expansion of global atmospheric profiling, but it will require significant effort and international collaboration to achieve the spatial and temporal coverage needed to integrate surface and spaceborne GHG observations. Lessons learned from recent global aircraft campaigns, commercial and routine, light and heavy aircraft deployments, and balloon-based platforms provide us with robust measurement technology that enables an operational, instead of research-based, approach for capturing profiles of GHGs. We propose a multi-national, multi-institutional and multi-platform approach, which seeks to use both regular measurement campaigns as well as routine, site-based and flights of opportunity on high-use (e.g. commercial and government) aircraft. It is important that the global community recognizes this opportunity and acts together to leverage these new possibilities.

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Topic : Theme 2: Novel GHG concentration and flux methods and sensors.
Reference : T2-C6

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