Analyzing atmospheric trace gases and aerosols using passenger aircraft



CARIBIC (Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the Atmosphere Based on an Instrument Container) resumed regular measurement flights with an extended scientific payload in December 2004. After an automated measurement container was successfully deployed on intercontinental flights using a Boeing 767 from 1997 to 2002, a far more powerful package now is deployed using a new Airbus A340-600 made available by Lufthansa German Airlines (Star Alliance). The new CARIBIC system will help address a range of current atmospheric science questions during its projected lifetime of 10 years.

European and Japanese scientists are developing a variety of atmospheric chemistry research and monitoring projects based on the use of passenger aircraft. This is a logical approach with a main advantage being that near-global coverage is obtained, in contrast to limited coverage through research aircraftbased expeditions. Moreover, highly detailed and consistent data sets can be acquired, as compared to satellite observations in general. In addition, even compared to land-based observatories, operational costs are moderate.