The Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network for the Carbon Cycle and Greenhouse Gases (CCGG) Group is part of NOAA'S Global Monitoring Laboratory (GML) in Boulder, CO. The Reference Network measures the atmospheric distribution and trends of the three main long-term drivers of climate change, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), as well as carbon monoxide (CO) which is an important indicator of air pollution. The Reference Network measurement program includes continuous in-situ measurements at 4 baseline observatories (global background sites) and 8 tall towers, as well as flask-air samples collected by volunteers at over 50 additional regional background sites and from small aircraft. The air samples are returned to ESRL for analysis where measurements of about 55 trace gases are done. NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network maintains the World Meteorological Organization international calibration scales for CO2, CH4, CO, N2O, and SF6 in air. The measurements of the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network serve as a comparison with measurements made by many other international laboratories, and with regional studies. They are widely used in studies inferring space-time patterns of emissions and removals of greenhouse gases that are optimally consistent with the atmospheric observations. They serve as an early warning for climate "surprises". The measurements are also helpful for the ongoing evaluation of remote sensing technologies.

The CCGG cooperative air sampling network effort began in 1967 at Niwot Ridge, Colorado. Today, the network is an international effort which includes regular discrete samples from the NOAA GML baseline observatories, cooperative fixed sites, and commercial ships. Air samples are collected approximately weekly from a globally distributed network of sites. Samples are analyzed for Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Hydrogen Gas (H2), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), and Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6); and by INSTAAR for the stable isotopes of CO2 and CH4. From 2004 to 2016, air samples were also analyzed by INSTAAR for a few volatile organic compounds (VOC), including ethane (C2H6) and propane (C3H8). Measurement data are used to identify long-term trends, seasonal variability, and spatial distribution of carbon cycle gases.

More information: GML CCGG Group

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