Remedy 2: Enhance the airborne infrastructure in Europe.

Primary gap remedy type: 
Secondary gap remedy type: 
Proposed remedy description: 

Currently there is a limited availability of suitable aircraft in Europe that can carry in-situ analysers of greenhouse gases to high altitude and make spiral flights to obtain vertical profiles. High-altitude UAV are still under development, but at the proof-of-concept phase and may have air traffic control restrictions that prove prohibitive.

We need an infrastructure and associated deployment programme that makes regular flights, especially over Europe but also over observation sites in other continents and the oceans, to obtain a good spatiotemporal sampling of the vertical distribution of greenhouse gases. This infrastructure can consist of aircrafts and/or UAV that can reach to high altitude. The scientific community should have easy access to this infrastructure for dedicated campaigns.

One option to realise this infrastructure is to engage more commercial airlines in the IAGOS RI such as to obtain a better spatiotemporal coverage of the profiles that are measured during take-off and landing of the aircrafts at the airports. Unfortunately, airports may not be representative for the background vertical profiles.


Such an aircraft / UAV fleet will be very useful also for other research purposes (e.g., T/ H2O observations in the UTLS).

Measurable outcome of success: 
  1. A much larger database of vertical profiles of greenhouse gases, with a better spatiotemporal spread. It will be used by the scientific community for verification and validation purposes, and for better calibration of the non-satellite and satellite remote sensing observing system to WMO standards (traceability). In the end, it will result in more reliable greenhouse gases products and trends, e.g., in Copernicus.
  2. Better competitiveness with the US airborne capabilities
Expected viability for the outcome of success: 
  • High
Scale of work: 
  • Programmatic multi-year, multi-institution activity
Time bound to remedy: 
  • Less than 10 years
Indicative cost estimate (investment): 
  • High cost (> 5 million)
Potential actors: 
  • EU H2020 funding
  • Copernicus funding
  • ESA, EUMETSAT or other space agency