Aerosol measurements began at the GMD baseline observatories in the mid-1970's as part of the Geophysical Monitoring for Climate Change (GMCC) program. Since the inception of the program, scientific understanding of the behavior of atmospheric aerosols has improved considerably. One lesson learned is that human activities primarily influence aerosols on regional/continental scales rather than global scales. The goals of this regional-scale monitoring program are to characterize means, variability, and trends of climate-forcing properties of different types of aerosols, and to understand the factors that control these properties. GMD's measurements also provide ground-truth for satellite measurements and global models, as well as key aerosol parameters for global-scale models.
Baseline and regional stations provide information about long-term changes in background aerosol properties and the influence of regional sources on aerosol optical properties statistics and trends. In addition to long-term monitoring at the baseline and regional stations, the aerosol group occasionally participates in short term field campaigns to study specific regional issues.
Data from the aerosol monitoring stations are updated several times a day. Web plots of raw measurement and instrument monitoring data allow GMD staff to review current station operations.