NILU - The Norwegian Institute for Air Research

Svalbard: 25 procent increase in greenhouse gases


Courtesy of Courtesy of NILU - The Norwegian Institute for Air Research

The concentration of the greenhouse gases hydrofluoro-carbons (HFC) in the atmosphere above Svalbard have increased with 25% in 2003. This is described in a new research report the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) has compiled for the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT). The measurements shows that most of the greenhouse gases and other ozone reducing substances in the atmosphere have increased during the year 2003. The increase is regarded as dramatic.

This annual report Greenhouse gas monitoring at the Zeppelin station, Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Norway describes the activities. The report presents the Zeppelin monitoring station and some of the activities at the station, as well as current status for instruments and measurement methods used for climate gas monitoring. Results from the measurements are presented as monthly averages and plotted as daily averages.

A wide range of anthropogenic as well as natural forcing mechanisms may lead to climate change. At present the known anthropogenic forcing mechanisms include well mixed greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, SF6 and halogenated hydrocarbons including CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs, halones and perfluorocarbons), ozone, aerosols (direct and indirect effects), water vapour and land surface albedo.

Svalbard: 25 procent increase in greenhouse gases
“The boost is dramatic,” said Professor Frode Stordal to Aftenposten (24.10.2004), the major newspaper in Norway. “We are talking about a huge growth in the occurrences. The hydrofluoro-carbon gases in the atmosphere are not dangerous for the ozone layer, but have a significant greenhouse effect. At the moment the occurrence of HFC gases in the atmosphere is still modest, but if the increase continues the consequences can be major and dramatic for the greenhouse effect.”

Measurements at Zeppelin, Svalbard

In 1999 the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) and NILU signed a contract commissioning NILU to run a programme for monitoring of climate gases at the Zeppelin station. The funding from SFT enables NILU to extend the greenhouse gas measurement programme and associated activities, making the Zeppelin station a major contributor of data on a global as well as a regional scale. The measurement programme at the Zeppelin station covers all major greenhouse gases - except N2O (due to lack of instrumentation).

Measurements of greenhouse gases at the Zeppelin station are used together with data from other remote stations for monitoring of global changes as well as for assessment of regional emissions and tracing of emission sources. Results from the greenhouse gas monitoring are used for assessment of compliance with the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols.

Svalbard: 25 procent increase in greenhouse gases

The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987 and came into force in 1989, is a very flexible instrument, which has been adjusted several times in the following years. It is still of vital interest that the scientific community is continuing and even expanding efforts in atmospheric measurements and modelling in order to follow the process over the next decades. Vital inputs in models like the lifetimes, atmospheric trends, emissions of compounds are still undergoing continuous review processes and for example the lifetime of carbon tetrachloride was corrected with over 25% during the last Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion in 2002.

Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol is a great environmental challenge to governments and the scientific community. Although there is superficial similarity between the topics of ozone depletion and those of climate change, and indeed much scientific interactions between the two, climate change has much wider implications. The range of materials and activities to be considered in regulations and the range of consequences are far larger and because of the long lifetime of carbon dioxide, the recovery from any effect on climate is far longer. There is a much larger gap to fill with both measurements and modelling.

For Kyoto Protocol substances only a very limited number of measurement sites exist that can deliver high quality and high time-frequent measurements. For Europe the number of sites, which can be used by modellers, is still far below 10. The measurements at Ny-Ålesund are an important contribution for European emission modelling.

Measurements so far confirm the Zeppelin station`s status as a global background station for climate gas monitoring. As the data series are expanded over time, they will make a good basis for investigations of global levels and trends. The first trend analysis of halogenated compounds based on three years data from Zeppelin are presented within this report.

The high frequency of data sampling enables studies of polluted air transport episodes. Combined with meteorological data and measurements from other European measurement stations, this is used for the investigation of regional emission inventories.

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