The EC Atmospheric Observatory studies interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere and climate change. This is done by continuous measurement of:
- reactive gas concentrations and aerosol characteristics to track changes in short-lived atmospheric species;
- greenhouse gas concentrations to track changes in long-lived atmospheric species;
- fluxes at forest canopy level to track the response of vegetation to climate change and air pollution.
The air pollution measurements contribute to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's European Monitoring and Evaluation
Programme (UNECE-EMEP). The JRC data allow us to benchmark the impacts of emission reduction policies and show important trends
or changes in atmospheric composition.
The JRC observatory measures concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3) and secondary aerosol precursors (SO2, NOx) as well
as particulate matter (PM). Daily aerosol samples are collected on quartz fibre filters to determine PM2.5 concentrations and chemical
compositions. Weekly quartz samples are collected for the same analyses of PM10. Rainwater samples are also collected to assess the
aerosol-wet deposition. The aerosol characterization programme measures all the parameters needed to understand the interplay of
ozone and aerosols with solar radiation are measured. As such, aerosol size distribution (in the range 8 nm - 10 µm), and aerosol
absorption and scattering coefficients are continuously monitored. The vertical profiling of aerosols is carried out using a LIDAR
(Light Detection And Ranging laser beam). Additional measurements are carried out during specific periods to develop EMEP-recommended
methodologies or European standards.
Greenhouse gas concentrations and 222Rn activity is being measured in Ispra. The station is an important complement to the European
monitoring network, which is still relatively sparse in southern Europe. In particular, it provides valuable information on GHG emissions from
the Po Valley area. In addition to the use of these measurements for the inverse modelling of GHG emissions, parallel Radon (222Rn)
measurements have been added to allow model-independent estimates of regional GHG emissions. The Ispra station contributes to the Integrated
Carbon Observation System Research Infrastructure (ICOS-RI)
of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).
ICOS-RI is a distributed project dedicated to the high precision monitoring of GHG concentrations and fluxes over a long timeframe across Europe.