Jungfraujoch Carbon Balance Campaign measures wildfire emissions from southern Europe
The Jungfraujoch Carbon Balance Campaign is a measuring campaign within the ACTRIS project. It is conducted by the Paul Scherrer Institute in collaboration with the Stiftung HFSJG, Empa, FHNW, as well as groups from Lille (France), York (England), and Aerosol d.o.o. (Slovenia). The campaign’s aim is to comprehensively measure and characterize the diversity of carbon-containing molecules present in the air in hopes to obtain helpful information on their role in climate and weather relevant processes.
The measuring campaign has been running for a total of four weeks in August and September during which data was collected using various instruments. The campaign explored what carbonaceous molecules are present in the gas phase and in particulate matter and what happens to them in the atmosphere - how they change on their way from the source to the measuring station. If the molecules remain in the gas phase or if they form particles, has a significant influence on their consequences for weather and climate.
Given the high altitude of the Jungfraujoch research station, it is possible to analyse and measure molecules in the free troposphere, where pollutants can be transported over long distances, remain for a longer time, and are therefore more relevant for the climate. Moreover, there are not many local emission sources (except for construction sites, cigarette smoke or helicopters every once in a while). The specific timeframe of the campaign has a strategic reason - during daytime of warm summer days thermal convection injects air with emissions from the polluted boundary layer (air from the valley) up to the altitude level of the Jungfraujoch. This makes it possible for the researchers to probe different layers of air – the free troposphere as well as the planetary boundary layer with emissions from cars, heating and industry.
Currently, plumes from wildfire emissions are detected. “Sometimes we are able to measure wildfire emissions from as far as North America. During the campaign, wildfire plumes from southern Europe reached Jungfraujoch", explains Nora Nowak, Postdoctoral Research at PSI’s Laboratory for atmospheric chemistry.
Text: Michelle Kalousek