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Apportionment of anthropogenic and biogenic sources of trace gases at the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus


Current climate change research has set its focus on carbon dioxide (CO2) as one of the most important greenhouse gases. The global distribution and the observation of long term variation are of special interest. Further research is required for processes on local and regional scales, due to the large complexity of high spatiotemporal variability of source and sink strengths and atmospheric mixing. In this context, a differentiation between anthropogenic and biogenic sources also in regard to a large scale carbon balance is an important step. Latest developments in measurement techniques enable continuous monitoring of stable carbon isotopes and allow to draw conclusions on sources and source areas utilizing isotopic ratios (e.g. d13CO2).

In-situ measurement of formaldehyde (HCHO) as an indicator for VOC oxidation, biomass burning, and validation of satellite data, is of special importance. HCHO is a key compound in atmospheric chemistry, important radical source, ozone precursor, and indicator for atmospheric photochemical activity. In this respect the apportionment of production mechanisms into primary or secondary and anthropogenic or biogenic origin plays a crucial role. HCHO is also an important carcinogenic substance.

The linkage of the d13CO2 isotopic ratio and HCHO with the additional set of continuously monitored atmospheric trace gases (e.g. NMHCs) and aerosols provides a good database for multivariate receptor modeling and other statistical methods to perform an apportionment of anthropogenic and biogenic sources as well as the determination of the origin and age of air masses.

Contact person:

Prof. Dr. Annette Menzel
Prof. Dr. Michael Leuchner