The lack of knowledge about the sources and sinks in the Global Carbon Cycle on all relevant temporal and spatial scales is currently recognised as the biggest deficit in understanding the processes of Global Change and developing solutions for adaptation measures.
In order to reliably predict the climate on our planet throughout the 21st century and support attaining emission targets in the framework of international climate agreements, research on the fluxes of the two most important anthropogenic greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) - is indispensable.
Particular significance is attached to monitoring the atmospheric concentrations of these GHGs, since, based on this information in combination with inverse modelling techniques, an independent determination of their sources and sinks becomes possible. Inverse modelling, however, requires the availability of a sufficient number of highly accurate measurements on different spatial scales. In contrast to localised point measurements, airborne remote sensing instruments are particularly suited to provide regional data that are severely lacking. Therefore, the predominant goal of this project is to fill the gap in these present inadequacies.
In the frame of the AIRSPACE project a scientific payload consisting of the most sophisticated remote sensing instruments will be developed and tested, with support of highly accurate in-situ instruments as well as modelling activities. Such a comprehensive infrastructure does not yet exist worldwide. Beyond purely scientific objectives, it can also serve to validate and independently verify future satellites which are planned to be deployed to monitor greenhouse gas emissions in the framework of international climate treaties.
In the course of this project a coordinated measurement campaign in the Central European region will take place (CoMet). Within AIRSPACE, the collected data will be exploited, cross-validated, and compared by means of the models. This will already serve as a test to validate satellite products, e.g. the CH4 product of the Sentinel-5P mission of the European Copernicus programme as well a the CO2 product from NASA’s OCO-2 mission.
Through successful implementation of the instrumentation and model infrastructure, the project partners will be in a position (a) to apply the method developed for Europe to the highly relevant tropical and arctic source and sink regions, (b) to participate in and contribute to future international projects dedicated to greenhouse gases, and (c) to actively participate in the validation of the French-German climate mission MERLIN (Methane Remote Sensing Lidar Mission).