Selected Carbon Cycle Research Observations and Measurement Programs

Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE)

Description: ABoVE is a large-scale investigation of the impact of environmental change on ecosystem function, ecosystem services, and its implications for social-ecological systems in Alaska and northwestern Canada. ABoVE research links field-based, process-level studies with geospatial data products derived from airborne and satellite sensors, providing a foundation for improving analysis and modeling capabilities for northern ecosystems.

Sponsoring agencies: NASA in partnership with DOE, DOI, USDA Forest Service, and the State of Alaska, as well as several Canadian federal and provincial agencies.
Observation type: Satellite and aircraft
Location: Alaska and western Canada
Timeline: September 2015 to September 2023
More information: URL

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Airborne Carbon Measurements (ACME)

Description: The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility is a multi-laboratory DOE scientific user facility with numerous national and international collaborators. ARM is a key contributor to national and international climate research efforts. Its data are currently collected from three atmospheric observatories representing the broad range of climate conditions around the world. ARM also operates three mobile facilities and additional aerial facilities and conducts specialized campaigns. Data are available from all past research campaigns and the former Tropical Western Pacific observatory.
Sponsoring agencies: DOE and NASA
Location: Southern Great Plains, North Slope of Alaska, and eastern North Atlantic, along with ARM mobile and aerial facilities. (Past research campaigns included a variety of locations.)
Timeline: 1989 to present
More information: URL and URL

Atmospheric Carbon and Transport (ACT)–America

Description: ACT-America involves five 6-week airborne campaigns to quantify anomalies in atmospheric carbon. The campaign enabled and demonstrated a new generation of atmospheric inversion systems for quantifying CO2 and CH4 sources and sinks.
Sponsoring agencies: NASA (EVS-2) and NOAA
Observation type: Aircraft
Location: Eastern United States
Timeline: July 2016 to May 2018 (est.)
More information: URL

Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface (AirMOSS) Experiment

Description: AirMOSS collected and used airborne radar to collect soil moisture data from nine climatic habitats in North America to estimate how much carbon the continent is taking in or releasing to the atmosphere.
Sponsoring agencies: NASA (EVS-1)
Observation type: Aircraft
Location: Continental United States and Alaska
Timeline: March 2012 to August 2016
More Information: URL

Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom)

Description: ATom is a global-scale aircraft sampling of the atmosphere that studies the impact of air pollution on GHGs and chemically reactive gases in the atmosphere to improve the representation of these reactive gases and short-lived climate forcers in global models of atmospheric chemistry and climate. Profiles of these gases will also provide critical information for validation of satellite data, particularly in remote areas where in situ data are lacking. Flights occur in each of four seasons over a 4-year period.
Sponsoring agencies: NASA (EVS-2)
Observation type: Aircraft
Location: Global
Timeline: April 2015 to April 2019
More information: URL

Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE)

Description: CARVE was a 5-year mission to measure CO2 and CH4 fluxes from Alaska, using sensors aboard a NASA aircraft. These measurements were combined with continuous ground-based measurements to provide temporal and regional context as well as calibration for airborne measurements. Contributions of tower and aircraft observations were provided by NOAA as well as a CARVE tower near Fairbanks that took continuous measurements of CO2 and CH4. Flying over 4 years with varying weather patterns allowed better understanding of the sensitivity of CO2 and CH4 fluxes to temperature and precipitation.
Sponsoring agencies: NASA (EVS-1) and NOAA
Observation type: Aircraft and surface network
Location: Alaska
Timeline: November 2010 to November 2015
More information: URL

Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network (GGGRN)

Description: NOAA GGGRN’s Cooperative Air Sampling Network involves weekly flask sampling at 76 sites worldwide, including 23 in North America, and four ocean cruise tracks. Air samples are collected in glass flasks and shipped to a central laboratory for analysis of CO2, CH4, carbon monoxide (CO), molecular hydrogen (H2), N2O, sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and stable isotopes of CO2 and CH4, as well as of many volatile organic compounds such as ethane (C2H6), ethylene (C2H4), and propane (C3H8).
Sponsoring agency: NOAA
Observation type: Flask measurement network
Timeline: 1967 (at Niwot Ridge, Colorado) to present (sites continuously added)
More information: URL

Description: NOAA Global Monitoring Division’s Observatories make continuous measurements of CO2, CH4, CO, isotopic compositions, and other carbon cycle–relevant quantities at Barrow, Alaska; Summit, Greenland; Mauna Loa, Hawaiʻi; American Samoa; and the South Pole.
Sponsoring agency: NOAA
Observation type: Continuous measurements
More information:

Description: GGGRN’s Aircraft program conducts regular profiling at 15 sites with about a 14-day measurement frequency. Flasks are analyzed for CO2, CO, N2O, CH4, H2, and SF6, as well as isotopes of CO2 and CH4 and multiple halo- and hydrocarbons.
Sponsoring agency: NOAA
Observation type: Aircraft
Timeline: 1992 to present
More information: URL

Description: GGGRN’s Tall Tower program makes continuous measurements of CO2, CH4, and CO at seven towers of varying heights up to about 400 m above ground level.
Sponsoring agency: NOAA
Observation type: Tall tower
Timeline: 1990s to present
More information: URL

Megacities Carbon Project

Description: The Megacities Carbon Project aims to demonstrate a scientifically robust capability to measure multiyear emission trends of CO2, CH4, and CO attributed to individual megacities and selected major sectors. Studies over Los Angeles and Paris, as well as planning for a study over São Paulo, are underway.
Sponsoring agencies: NASA, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Keck Institute for Space Studies
Observation type: Surface measurement network
Location: Los Angeles and Paris
Timeline: August 2015 (completion of current network installation) to present

More information: URL

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)

Description: MODIS is a key instrument aboard the satellites Terra (originally known as EOS AM-1) and Aqua (originally known as EOS PM-1). Terra MODIS and Aqua MODIS are viewing the entire Earth’s surface every 1 to 2 days, acquiring data to improve understanding of global dynamics and processes occurring on the land, in the ocean, and in the lower atmosphere, such as gross primary productivity, land cover, evapotranspiration, thermal anomalies, chlorophyll concentration, sea ice, and water inundation.
Observation type: Satellite
Location: Global
Timeline: Terra, 1999 to present; Aqua, 2002 to present
More information: URL

Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2)

Description: OCO-2 measures CO2 from space with the precision, resolution, and coverage needed to provide a global picture of human and natural sources and sinks. These measurements are being combined with data from ground stations, aircraft, and other satellites to help answer key questions about the global carbon cycle and how it interacts with climate change.
Sponsoring agency: NASA
Observation type: Satellite, aircraft, and surface network
Location: Global
Timeline: July 2014 to July 2016
More information: URL

O2/N2 Ratio and CO2 Airborne Southern Ocean (ORCAS)

Description: ORCAS is an airborne field campaign to advance understanding of the physical and biological controls on air-sea exchange of oxygen (O2) and CO2 in the Southern Ocean, through intensive airborne surveys of atmospheric O2, CO2, related gases, and ocean surface properties over biogeochemical regions adjacent to the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Sponsoring agencies: NSF and NASA
Observation type: Aircraft
Location: Puntas Arenas, Chile
Timeline: January–February 2016
More information: URL

Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP)

Description: SMAP is a satellite mission whose goal is to provide a capability for global mapping of soil moisture and the freeze/thaw state with unprecedented accuracy, resolution, and coverage. Science objectives are to 1) understand processes that link the terrestrial water, energy, and carbon cycles; 2) estimate global water and energy fluxes at the land surface; 3) quantify net carbon flux in boreal landscapes; 4) enhance weather and climate forecast skill; and 5) develop improved flood prediction and drought-monitoring capabilities. On July 7, 2015, SMAP’s radar stopped transmitting, marking the end of soil moisture radar operations; however, the passive SMAP soil moisture radiometer continues to return data.
Sponsoring agency: NASA
Observation type: Satellite
Location: Global
Timeline: January 2015 to May 2018
More information: URL

SMAP Validation Experiment 2016 (SMAPVEX)

Description: The SMAPVEX-16 campaign flew an L-band radar and microwave radiometer over U.S. and Canadian agricultural areas to further evaluate SMAP satellite data products. Additional flights were associated with SMAPVEX 2015.
Sponsoring agencies: NASA, USDA, Agriculture Canada, and Canadian Space AgencyObservation Type: Aircraft
Location: Iowa and Manitoba
Timeline: June–August 2016
More information: URL and URL

Shale Oil and Natural Gas NEXUS (SONGNEX)

Description: The SONGEX campaign aims to 1) quantify emissions of trace gases, fine particles, and CH4 from several types of oil and shale gas basins in the western United States at different stages of development and 2) study the chemical transformation of these emissions.
Sponsoring agencies: NOAA, NASA, and NSF
Observation type: Aircraft
Location: North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico
Timeline: March–May 2015
More information: URL

Twin Otter Projects Defining Oil/gas Well emissioNs (TOPDOWN)

Description: TOPDOWN aims to understand the atmospheric impact of rapidly expanding oil and gas operations in the Bakken shale play in North Dakota through downwind cross-section flights of the active field, quantifying key atmospheric trace gases (e.g., CO2, CO, CH4, ethane (C2H6), and ozone) and black carbon using airborne in situ sensors and complementary airborne remote-sensing instrumentation. Subsequent flights examined the Denver-Julesburg basin in northeast Colorado and the San Juan basin in New Mexico.
Sponsoring agencies: NOAA, NASA, NSF, and DOE
Observation type: Aircraft
Location: North Dakota, Colorado, and New Mexico
Timeline: May–June 2014 and April 2015
More information: URL

Wintertime Investigation of Transport, Emissions, and Reactivity (WINTER)

Description: WINTER evaluates the atmospheric chemical transformations and transport associated with anthropogenic emissions during winter in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, including the Marcellus Pennsylvania shale play. Measurements will be made in large urban and industrial plumes; coal-fired power plant emissions; and distributed emissions from oil and gas extraction, agricultural or biofuel burning, and vegetation.
Sponsoring agencies: NSF and NOAA
Observation type: Aircraft
Location: Northeastern United States
Timeline: February–March 2015
More information: URL

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