CO2 measurements in real time

Empa data for the SRF Climate Monitor


"On the pulse of the planet - daily facts and figures on the climate" is how the Swiss Radio and Television SRF website advertises its "Climate Monitor". Some of the data published online, namely the CO2 concentrations measured on the Jungfraujoch, are supplied by researchers from Empa's "Air Pollutants/Environmental Technology" laboratory.

The research station on the Jungfraujoch. Picture: Konsta Punkka
Presentation of the CO2 data supplied by Empa via the "Integrated Carbon Observation System" (ICOS) on the SRF Climate Monitor. Source: SRF

Measuring the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the exchange of these gases between the atmosphere, biosphere and oceans is essential in order to better understand global climate change and predict possible consequences. As part of the National Air Pollution Monitoring Network (NABEL) and the European research infrastructure "Integrated Carbon Observation System" (ICOS), Empa continuously measures the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere at the research station on the Jungfraujoch; these measurements contribute to a better understanding of the global carbon cycle and how it is influenced by human activities. SRF uses this data for the climate monitor thanks to researchers from Empa's "Air Pollutants/Environmental Technology" laboratory.

Monthly averages are shown for the long-term time series (see red line in the graph) and the daily average (red dot) for the previous day. As Empa researcher Martin Steinbacher emphasizes, the data chain from the measuring device to the website is longer than one might expect. The high-resolution raw data from the measuring device on the Jungfraujoch is sent every night to the "Atmosphere Thematic Centre" of the ICOS research infrastructure in France, where the ambient air data is separated from the regular calibration and quality control measurements, calibrated and converted to hourly aggregate values. This is the only way to achieve the demanding data quality targets in near real time. From France, the data is sent to the "ICOS Carbon Portal" in Sweden, from where SRF retrieves it once a day. "All in all, the whole thing is more complex than it seems at first glance, as everything has to be robust and automated," says Steinbacher. An effort that pays off, as the SRF website is one of the "top ten" most visited websites in Switzerland!

Editor/Media contact

Rémy Nideröst
Phone +41 58 765 45 98

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