IAGOS-CARIBIC is part of a European research infrastructure for the global and long-term observation of atmospheric composition. IAGOS-CARIBIC is based on the use of a civil airliner that regularly flies to worldwide destinations.
Instrumented CARIBIC container in front of its Lufthansa-Airbus (Photo: Stefan Weber, MPIC)
A large instrumented air cargo container has been operated regularly in the cargo bay of the Lufthansa Airbus "Leverkusen" since 2005. The A340-600 serves routes between Frankfurt or Munich and airports in North and South America, Africa and Asia. By the year 2020, the CARIBIC container has been used on more than 550 flights.
An elaborate, permanently installed air sample system in the fuselage of the Airbus A340-600 directs the air to the instruments in the measurement container. The container is equipped with more than twenty instruments for measuring trace gases and aerosol parameters. With a payload of about 1.5 tons, the container houses a similar number of complex instruments as research aircraft.
IAGOS-CARIBIC is used to study the tropopause, which is of particular interest because of the exchange processes between troposphere and stratosphere. In addition, the ascent and descent profiles above the airports provide important information about the local composition of the atmosphere and its changes.
These measurements are of particular importance for the research of climate change through long-term and global observation of climate-sensitive parameters. IAGOS-CARIBIC provides a comprehensive data set for the validation of complex atmospheric models. The regular measurements on board of commercial aircrafts are an important complement to the investigations performed with research aircraft.
The DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics is involved in IAGOS-CARIBIC with a sensor for the measurement of nitric oxide and the sum of all reactive nitrogen species. The consortium, which is coordinated by KIT Karlsruhe, also includes MPG, FZJ Jülich and TROPOS Leipzig.
A generational change in the measurement platform of the CARIBIC container is currently being prepared in order to be ready for the coming years. From 2021 on, the CARIBIC container will be used on board a new Airbus A350 of Lufthansa.