Climate Change is one of the greatest societal challenges of the 21st century. The dominant source of Global Warming is the increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth`s atmosphere. The two most important of those species which are influenced by human activity are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). But it is not only human activities but also large natural sources such as the extended wetlands in the Arctic and boreal areas that matter. Wetland vegetation takes up and stores carbon and its decomposition releases CO2 and CH4. These processes make the global wetlands one of the most important albeit least understood sources and sinks in the global methane and CO2 budget. The knowledge about those processes, their magnitude versus man-made emissions, and also feedback mechanisms are not yet understood to a degree that is sufficient to address the needs of science and policy-makers to predict and mitigate Climate warming.
Thus, measurements of greenhouse gases concentrations in the atmosphere are needed from which the emissions can be inferred. During CoMet 2.0 Arctic, we intend to do this by conducting research with a specialized aircraft equipped with a suite of advanced remote sensing and in-situ instruments to detect greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
CoMet 2.0 Arctic is an international research program being led by German Aerospace Center – DLR, a German government agency, and will use the German research aircraft HALO (High Altitude and LOng range aircraft), a modified Gulfstream G550.
This 6-weeks field experiment will take place from 6 August – 16 September 2022 with Edmonton, AB as the campaign base. About 120 flight hours are available from public funding and will take place over a wide area in several Provinces and Territories. A few flights will also lead to Nunavut. The impact to the environment, wildlife, and people will be minor. Most of the flights have to be carried out at altitudes of several kms. Only in rare cases, flights closer to the ground will be required but will stay away from protected areas. In order to help calibration of our instruments, a handful of small meteorological sondes shall be launched from the aircraft which will not be recovered. Those are of the same type which are regularly launched on weather balloons 60 times a day across Canada and no hazardous elements are involved.
The CoMet 2.0 Arctic research campaign is being conducted as an open science program in the service of the global community. Since it is a publicly funded project, all data must be made publicly available. For this purpose, a specific HALO database exists to store and manage the data and various meta databases for Arctic research will point to that inventory as well. We will gladly give public presentations about our research and very much welcome input from indigenous groups or northern communities who have interest in our research or suggestions regarding priorities for potential surveys.