SU Zeppelin > Measurements
Gases Particles


Particles affect the Earths radiation balance by absorbing and scattering part of the radiation from the sun. Particles may also affect the climate indirectly by changing the optical properties of clouds. An increase in the aerosol number density or changes in their chemical characteristics may result in more abundant but smaller cloud droplets, which cause the clouds to reflect more light. A change in the droplet size distribution of the clouds may also affect the precipitation intensity, which in turn affects the hydrological cycle. Different from most so called greenhouse gases, the particles vary very much in time and space due to their shorter life times (weeks). This results in the climatic effect by particles being different in different regions. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) has a long life time in the atmosphere (5-200 years), so its effect on the climate will be more global. This does not imply that the level of CO2 is constant. On the contrary, there is a very marked annual variation that comes from the uptake and respiration of CO2 by vegetation. Moreover, the climate effect by CO2 is active throughout the whole day, whereas the climate effect by the aerosols is mainly during the light period of the day.

To understand and assess the human effect on the climate, regionally and globally, we need an in-depth knowledge about the atmospheric aerosols and greenhouse gases.

The observations over Spitzbergen (Svalbard) aim towards:

  • detecting long-term trends in the carbon dioxide level, as well as trends in the amount or composition of aerosols in the background atmosphere.
  • provide a basis to study the processes that control the aerosol life cycle from their formation through aging and transformation, until being removed from the atmosphere.
  • provide a basis to study the processes (sources, sinks, and transport pathways) that control the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • contribute to the global network of stations that perform continous measurements of atmospheric particles and trace gases to determine their effect on the earths radiation balance and interaction with clouds and climate.

The mesurements performed by SU at the Zeppelin station include carbon dioxide (CO2), particle concentration and size distribution, light absorption and scattering. Presently, we also perform development of novel systems to characterize size dependent properties of small particles.