Engineers deliver instrument to study ‘greenhouse gases’

Posted by ap507 at Dec 22, 2014 12:57 PM |
Dr Hartmut Boesch is science lead on GHOST project

Researchers from the Universities of Leicester and Edinburgh will use a new instrument (GHOST - GreenHouse Observations of the Stratosphere and Troposphere) designed and built at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) to measure the emission and uptake of greenhouse gases.

Understanding these gases is a prerequisite for managing future levels of carbon dioxide to support effective international agreements and national emission reduction programmes. Understanding these gases is a prerequisite for managing future levels of carbon dioxide to support effective international agreements and national emission reduction programmes.

GHOST will sit in the belly of a NASA Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial vehicle, at altitudes up to 20,000m, above the troposphere where most of the Earth’s weather occurs. It will collect sunlight that has been reflected from the ocean surface below and disperse it into a spectrum from which individual molecules can be identified. This will allow atmospheric columns of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide to be measured over huge swaths of the Pacific Ocean.

The researchers will then combine this data with a large-scale numerical weather model to understand the atmospheric transport of the gases.

Dr Hartmut Boesch (pictured) from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who was the scientific lead from the University of Leicester, said "GHOST is a truly unique instrument and, thanks to its innovative technology, will allow us for the first time to observe the total amount of the key carbon gases carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide at the same time. This, combined with the capability of the Global Hawk to fly for over a day, will give us an unprecedented view on the atmosphere."