Increase of Arctic pollution due to climate change – IPA investigates emission sources in the Arctic

30 August 2012

Increase of Arctic pollution due to climate change – IPA investigates emission sources in the Arctic

Impacts of global warming lead to an increase of pollution import into the polar region, as well as to an enhancement of local emissions in the Arctic. Since the 1960s, the Arctic Ocean ice cover has decreased by 50%. Transpolar shipping and hydrocarbon resource extraction therefore is expected to heavily increase in the foreseeable future. Transport of pollution into the polar region already is enhanced, mainly due to import of Siberian and North American biomass burning emissions. Within the framework of the ACCESS project (Arctic Climate Change, Economy and Society), scientists of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics performed in-situ measurements in the Arctic in July 2012.

The Falcon was based in Andoya, northern Norway, and conducted 13 research flights studying Arctic pollution. Thereby emissions and distributions of trace compounds were measured including nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, sulfuric dioxide, and particulate matter, e.g. black carbon. During low-level flights, emissions of different vessel types (passenger-, cargo and fishery ships) and of oil platforms located in the Norwegian Sea were analyzed. These measurements will be used to study primary emitted pollutants and formation of secondary trace gases and particles in the exhaust gas. For the first time, airborne in-situ measurements were conducted in close vicinity of offshore oil facilities in the Arctic.

During large-scale flights above the Barents Sea, also pollution originating from Russian industrial areas located in the Arctic, as well as from Siberian biomass burning source regions was sampled. The Falcon measurements will be used to improve emission inventories and to validate model simulations. This will help to improve model predictions of future Arctic pollution and warming.

Figure 1: DLR Falcon in Andoya before take-off for a research flight in the Arctic.

Figure 2: View from the cockpit of the DLR Falcon while approaching oil and gas extraction facilities in the Norwegian Sea.

Figure 3: Large-scale atmospheric pollution layer observed from the Falcon over the Barents Sea, originating from industrial areas of the Kola Peninsula.

Figure 4: Investigated oil platform in the Norwegian Sea.

Contact: Dr. Hans Schlager 

German Aerospace Center
Institute of Atmospheric Physics
82234 Wessling

Tel.: 08153/282510
Fax: 08153/281841

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