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.

Observatory Measurements: NOAA/GML operates four staffed atmospheric baseline observatories from which numerous measurements of greenhouse gases are conducted. These baseline observatories, also known as global background sites, are located in Barrow, Alaska; Mauna Loa, Hawaii; American Samoa; and South Pole, Antarctica. The measured data are baseline levels, trends, and causes of variability of atmospheric gases that have the potential to affect global climate. These observatories were established in order to provide a sampling of the most remote air on the planet so that the true "background atmosphere" could be monitored. GMD first began continuous in-situ measurements of CO2 at these observatories in 1973, and added CH4 and CO measurements in the 1980's. The ongoing data set is contingent upon the baseline observatories that are still in use going forward.

More information: GML CCGG Group In-Situ Measurement Program

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