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.
- Research - GMD's measurements of aerosol optical properties provide information about the trends and factors that influence the climate forcing effect of aerosol particles. The study of aerosol properties on various spatial and temporal scales yields information about trends in aerosol distributions. Other factors such as relative humidity and aerosol chemistry also determine the role aerosols play in climate forcing. Presentations and publications provide an in depth look at some of these issues.
- Instruments and Measurements - In situ measurements of a variety of aerosol optical properties are made at GMD's aerosol monitoring sites. The measurement suite enables calculation of direct aerosol climate forcing. The measured values relevant for climate forcing calculations are: light absorption, total scattering and backscattering. These measurements are used to derive parameters required in the forcing calculation.