• carbon cycle;
  • carbon dioxide;
  • global change;
  • methane;
  • trace gas exchange;
  • trace gas monitoring


A design is presented to continuously monitor the transfers of carbon between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere and oceans on large spatial scales. A consideration of the expected signal-to-noise suggests that a very cost effective method is to perform repeated measurements of the mixing ratios of trace gases in the atmospheric column at an increased number of sites compared to the present geographical coverage. This can be accomplished with existing technology, provided that more automation is applied to the sampling process as well as to the analytical procedures. The resulting data will be crucial to test extrapolations based on direct flux measurements to regional and global scales.