Airborne monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions

The aerial platform

In 2006, we have acquired and fully equipped a light aircraft for airborne measurements of turbulent fluxes. The aerial platform, which was developed for the EU-FP5 RECAB-project, is based on the certified aircraft Sky Arrow ERA (Environmental Research Aircraft), equipped with sensors to measure three-dimensional wind and turbulence together with gas concentrations and other atmospheric parameters at high frequency. For more information on the aerial platform, visit our Airborn Facilities page.

Monitoring rural carbon dioxide sinks and sources

Rural areas play a significant role in the greenhouse gas budget. Forest and grasslands take up carbon dioxide, croplands and drained peat lands emit carbon dioxide. Fertilized cropland and grassland emit other greenhouse gases, mostly nitrous oxide. The PH-WUR can monitor these at the regional scale and provide snapshot estimates of these fluxes or -by repeated flights- integrated fluxes over longer time periods (seasonal, annual). Through footprint modeling regional totals can be attributed to the various land use types found in the landscape.

Left: Carbon dioxide flux over the fen meadow area in the west of the Netherlands (7 April 2008): size of bubble relative to flux magnitude; blue uptake; arrows wind direction, Right: Impression of the fen meadow area from the aircraft.
Left: Carbon dioxide flux over the fen meadow area in the west of the Netherlands (7 April 2008): size of bubble relative to flux magnitude; blue uptake; arrows wind direction, Right: Impression of the fen meadow area from the aircraft.

Monitoring the urban metabolism

Cities have a specific climate of their own. The ‘urban heat island’ is characterized relatively warm conditions and a high pollutant load. The PH-WUR can be used to monitor the urban metabolism: thermal properties of the city, heat and vapor exchange, greenhouse gas emissions (but note that safety regulations may prevent low-level flight over build-up areas).

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Top: Carbon dioxide flux (17 June 2009, Rotterdam); size of bubble relative to flux magnitude; black=uptake, white=emission. Bottom: Birds eye view of the flight over Rotterdam.
Top: Carbon dioxide flux (17 June 2009, Rotterdam); size of bubble relative to flux magnitude; black=uptake, white=emission. Bottom: Birds eye view of the flight over Rotterdam.