High levels of carbon monoxide (CO) have been detected in the upper air in the Pacific Ocean region by Asia’s first climate-monitoring aircraft, a Taiwanese researcher said yesterday.
This means that air convection can effectively spread man-made pollution to areas high in the atmosphere, Wang Kuo-ying (王國英), director of the Center for Environmental Studies, told a press conference called to announce the figures gathered by a China Airlines (CAL) aircraft and nine Evergreen Marine Corp ships fitted with equipment to measure greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.
Since June, the CAL plane, fitted with an In-service Aircraft for Global Observing System (IAGOS), has recorded CO concentrations at the relatively high level of 270 parts per billion by volume at about 10km above ground, the same as at ground level, Wang said.
Meanwhile, figures gathered by the Evergreen ships since June 2009 show that carbon dioxide concentrations in sea areas distant from industrial activities averaged 392 parts per million (ppm), while they reached high levels of 430ppm to 490ppm in areas close to intensive industrial activity.
The figures from last month have increased 2.3ppm from the same period of last year, Wang said, adding that the global average could reach 400ppm by 2015 at this rate.
Wang said that to compile the measurements, the ships made 130 voyages over the past three years, while the aircraft made 117 flights over the past two months.
“We hope the results of the data can help the fight against global warming,” Wang said.
The ship and aircraft measurement is part of the Pacific Greenhouse Gases Measurement project promoted by the Environmental Protection Administration, the National Science Council and National Central University.
“A big advantage of these ship and aircraft measurements is that we get a much more accurate global figure on what carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are doing and therefore we can define our estimates in the future,” said Andreas Volz-Thomas, coordinator of the European IAGOS program.
He said that one of the main goals of the IAGOS project is to measure CO levels over the Pacific, which it was previously unable to do until the collaboration with Taiwan and China Airlines.
He said IAGOS has invested between 10 million euros (US$12.9 million) and 15 million euros in the development of the system.
Andreas Wahner, chairman of Germany’s Institute of Energy and Climate Research, said that while climate-monitoring research has been ongoing, “the Pacific has been missing for a long time.”