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Germany gains F-gas monitoring observatory

Photo: Markus Bernards

GERMANY: Researchers from Goethe University Frankfurt have put a measuring device into operation on a mountain near Frankfurt to measure atmospheric F-gases.

The Observatory on Kleiner Feldberg in the Taunus mountain range in Hesse will continuously monitor the concentrations of halogenated greenhouse gases with very high accuracy for the first time in Germany.  

With initial results indicating that sources of F-gases are present in Germany, the scientists in Frankfurt insist that recording F-gases ought to be included in the official air monitoring programme in the long term.

The measuring device called Medusa is within ACTRIS (Aerosol, Clouds and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure), the pan-European research infrastructure gathering data and information on short-lived atmospheric constituents.

Their measurements of halogenated greenhouse gases are also incorporated in the international AGAGE network, which has been monitoring the occurrence of climate-relevant trace gases at stations all over the world since 1978. 

Professor Andreas Engel from the Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt, who is in charge of Medusa, said: “Our measurements have already clearly shown that there are significant sources of F-gases in Germany. We have therefore joined forces within an EU-funded project with other researchers, primarily from Germany, Switzerland and the UK, to quantify F-gas emissions on the basis of these measurements with the help of computer models and to further narrow down their regions of origin.”

The very low concentrations, the large number of components to be measured and the high accuracies required make the measurements very complex, but Engel is convinced that, because of their significance, measuring F-gases should shift from research to official air monitoring in the long term.

“We need to set up a programme that also integrates the systematic recording of halogenated greenhouse gases, including F-gases, into the official atmospheric measurement system. This could deliver sufficient data to identify sources and take appropriate countermeasures,” he said.

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