Climate Gases

The main activities of the Group for Climate Gases are centered around the observations of anthropogenic trace gases in the atmosphere. Data are exploited for detection of sources and sinks of these gases as well as trends and their influence on atmospheric chemistry.


Trace Gas Measurements at Jungfraujoch

The recently installed heated air inlet lines at Jungfraujoch: Spectacular video and pictures

CLIMGAS-CH / AGAGE: Continuous measurements of halogenated greenhouse gases at the high Alpine site of Jungfraujoch for identification of trends and regional European emissions.

CO2, CH4, N2O and CO: The important greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon monoxide (CO) are also continuously measured at Jungfraujoch.

Advancement Analytical Techniques
Analytical techniques are constantly improved. The Group for Climate Gases has developed a large expertise in trace gas analysis. The team is specialized in gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analysis, allowing to detect as low as 1 ppq (fmol/mol) of a given trace gas in the atmosphere.
Innovation in Halocarbon Measurements and Emission Validation
IHALOME: Atmospheric halocarbon measurements during two field campaigns in Switzerland, and a campaign in the Netherlands; assessment of regional abundances, emissions and sources of halocarbons; search for new halogenated greenhouse gases by advanced analytical measurement techniques
Measurements of VOCs in Switzerland
Empa has measured VOCs as part of the Swiss network on air pollution (NABEL) since the 1990s at several locations in Switzerland, ranging from high-Alpine sites to urban hotspots. These measurements are part of the European EMEP system and of the European ACTRIS network. In ACTRIS Empa is responsible for data quality checks of VOCs as part of the Topical Center for in-situ trace gases (CiGAS). More explanations on VOCs, Swiss VOC measurements and data availability can be found here.

We are part of the EMPIR MetClimVOC project for the production of SI-traceable and long-term stable working standards for VOCs and OVOCs.

Latest Publications

• Rust, D.; Katharopoulos, I.; Vollmer, M. K.; Henne, S.; O'Doherty, S.; Say, D.; Emmenegger, L.; Zenobi, R.; Reimann, S. Swiss halocarbon emissions for 2019 to 2020 assessed from regional atmospheric observations. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 2022, 22 (4), 2447-2466.

•  Guillevic, M., Guillevic, A., Vollmer, M. K., Schlauri, P., Hill, M., Emmenegger, L., & Reimann, S.: Automated fragment formula annotation for electron ionisation, high resolution mass spectrometry: application to atmospheric measurements of halocarbons. J. Cheminfo. 2021, 13(1), 78 (27 pp.).

•  Park, S., Western, L. M., Saito, T., Redington, A. L., Henne, S., Fang, X., … Rigby, M.: A decline in emissions of CFC-11 and related chemicals from eastern China. Nature 590, 2021, 433–437,

• Say, D., Manning, A. J., Western, L. M., Young, D., Wisher, A., Rigby, M., Reimann, S., Vollmer, M. K., Maione, M., Arduini, J., Krummel, P. B., Mühle, J., Harth, C. M., Evans, B., Weiss, R. F., Prinn, R. G., and O'Doherty, S.: Global trends and European emissions of tetrafluoromethane (CF4), hexafluoroethane (C2F6) and octafluoropropane (C3F8), Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2021, 2149–2164,  

•  Vollmer, M. K., Mühle, J., Henne, S., Young, D., Rigby, M., Mitrevski, B., … Steele, L. P.: Unexpected nascent atmospheric emissions of three ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS, 118(5), 2021, e2010914118 (7 pp.).

•  Simmonds, P. G.; Rigby, M.; Manning, A. J.; Park, S.; Stanley, K. M.; McCulloch, A.; Henne, S.; Graziosi, F.; Maione, M.; Arduini, J.; et al. The increasing atmospheric burden of the greenhouse gas sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Atmos. Chem. Phys. 2020, 20 (12), 7271-7290.

•  Reimann, S.; Vollmer, M. K.; Hill, M.; Schlauri, P.; Guillevic, M.; Brunner, D.; Henne, S.; Rust, D.; Emmenegger, L. Long-term observations of atmospheric halogenated organic trace gases. Chimia 2020, 74 (3), 136-141.


more publications

Completed Projects

HIGHGAS: Development of traceable standards with long-term stability for high impact greenhouse gases.

MEDEMPA: Building of the Medusas for Norway and China.

LEMURE: The LEMURE project will advance methods to obtain reliable and independent emission numbers of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, which can be used to check emissions to be reported by the signatory countries within the Kyoto Protocol.

SOGE: To develop a new cost-effective long-term European observation system for halocarbons.

Mehal-GG: First-time top down estimation of halocarbon emissions for Southeastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula, based on atmospheric measurement campaigns in Finokalía (Crete, Greece) and  Pic du Midi (Pyrenees, France).

ENOVO: Campaign measurements of oxidised volatile organic compounds (OVOCs) at Zürich (urban) and Jungfraujoch (high Alpine, background).

SASHA-THT: The PhD thesis “Sources and Sinks of Hydrogen in the Atmosphere during Transition to Hydrogen-based Transportation” commenced in the summer of 2007.