In the beginning of April, the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation published "Danish roadmap for research infrastructure 2011". The catalogue describes the research infrastructure, i.e. the observation stations, which are used for gathering data about greenhouse gases.
|Read more about Carboeurope here |
Read more about ESFRI here
See Dansk roadmap for forskningsinfrastruktur 2011 here (In Danish) (Danish Roadmap for research infrastructure 2011)
The Danish research infrastructure to collect data on greenhouse gasses consists of measurement stations, instruments etc. and is going to be the Danish part of the membership of the ESFRI project ”Integrated Carbon Observatories System” (ICOS). ICOS is to strengthen and coordinate the cooperation on observation and data collection of greenhouse gases in Europe and adjacent regions. Currently 17 partners take part of the ICOS project, and Risø DTU is participating too. In comparison with previous European studies of greenhouse gas balances from terrestrial systems ICOS also includes marine systems so that both the atmospheric, terrestrial and marine elements are covered.
In Denmark, the ICOS project is going to utilize the existing research infrastructures which includes the meteorological mast at Risø DTU, the future meteorological tower in the new national test center for wind turbines at Østerild, Risø DTU’s measurement station in a forest at Sorø as well as a measurement station in Risø's energy willow plantation in which the greenhouse gas balance for growing energy crops are measured. ICOS is to generate knowledge to support the development of technologies and regulatory and operational systems ensuring Denmark's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere represent a major cause of climate change worldwide. Therefore there is a great need for making accurate measurements and assessments of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The fight against climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gases can be measured in the atmosphere using the right research infrastructure, as they do at Risø DTU.
“The fact that our research facilities for gathering data about greenhouse gases have now been included on the list of important research infrastructure is a result of many years of research, starting in 1996, when we participated in the first EU project - Euroflux – on the measurement of CO2 flux in forests. For this purpose we established an observation station, together with the Wind Energy Division from Risø DTU, in a beech forest near Sorø. This project ran over 5 years”, says Kim Pilegaard, head of the Biosystems Division.
"Our measuring equipment is placed inside a small beech forest by Sorø. The forest is fairly uniform and most importantly it is flat, which is important for making good flux measurements, as this requires a homogeneous surface and a large extent,” says Kim Pilegaard.
It turned out that this beech forest was a good place to perform the flux measurements and the Danish Environmental Research Programme (Det Strategiske Miljøforskningsprogram) took part of the financing. A new EU project, Carboeurope, arose and the range of participants was expanded from 12 to 30 partners. Today more than 100 observation stations are located throughout Europe.
A need for a standardized method for flux measurements
As more data were gathered in the EU projects it became more and more clear that there was a need for a standardized method for flux measurements and it also proved that it is very complicated to operate such a type of observation station. Consequently, a pan-European network of observation stations with a standardised, centralised management with data calibration and standard methods is going to be established.
“Thus, we will have a research infrastructure for flux measurements that provides quality controlled, consistent data. It is becoming increasingly important because these data are included in models and assessments of the CO2 cycles which are very important in understanding, assessing and addressing the climate changes the right way”, says Kim Pilegaard.
Will give Denmark exact measurements of the CO2 concentration in the air
Many assessments of the development in atmospheric CO2 concentrations are based on the long series of measurements from Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Denmark has not yet exact measurements of CO2 concentrations in the air. This requires a setup with automatic calibration, and such a measurement station should also be able to measure other important greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide.
Consequently, there is a need for establishing a total infrastructure for concentration and flux measurements for all of Denmark. “We have studied how all of the Danish universities can contribute to the so-called ICOS project, and it is now described in a White Paper covering all Danish universities”, says Kim Pilegaard. The White Paper is based on the masts of the existing measurement stations.
“For the flux measurements, we use Risø DTU’s measurement station in the beech forest at Sorø. It is very valuable, because here we have one of the longest uninterrupted time series in the world: it goes back to the 1st of June 1996 and it has been measuring continuously since. The longer time we measure, the more valuable this measurement station will be," says Kim Pilegaard.
The plan is now to use the meteorological mast at Risø DTU, which already accounts for a very long time series of meteorological data from the 125-meter tall mast. At the top of this mast CO2 concentration measurements are to be conducted as the height of the mast makes the measurements representative for the whole Zeeland.
Last year an area at Risø DTU equivalent to 20 football fields was planted with small willow cuttings. This was the beginning of a new research project identifying how such a willow plantation affects our greenhouse gas budget and resource consumption.
The willow plantation is also to be included in the flux measurements at Risø DTU, because it is important to know how the plantation impacts on greenhouse accounts, and now a flux measurement station is set up in the plantation.
At last, concentration measurements are planned to be performed at the future 200 meters tall meteorological tower which is to be built in connection with the national test center for wind turbines at Østerild. This measurement station will be receiving fairly clean air masses from the North Sea.
"We are pleased to be included in the research infrastructure plans as one of the projects to be financed in the short term but unfortunately we were not lucky enough to get money in the first round. So right now the future is actually a little uncertain. This is an increasing problem for us because of the termination of the projects that financed the measurements so far, and a lack of funding will soon be an issue if the measurements are not going to stop”, says Kim Pilegaard.