June 20, 2011

New Website Allows Public To Track Greenhouse Gases

Australian research institute Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) launched a new website on Monday that allows Internet users to monitor greenhouse gas emissions.

The site was developed so people can see how climate-warming gases have increased as a result of human activities.

"The measurements testify to a steady rise in carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere, mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation," CSIRO scientist Paul Fraser told AFP.

The website shows levels of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane through interactive maps and graphs. Also measured are chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, such as chlorofluorocarbons and halons.

CSIRO says it will update the site monthly as new samples are tested.

"The graphs we've made available online will enable people to examine the evidence about the major driver of recent climate change," said Fraser. "This is fundamental information in determining the global actions needed to avoid greenhouse gases rising to dangerous levels."

Data on air samples are collected by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology at Cape Grim in Tasmania.

Cape Grim is one of the three major Baseline Air Pollution Stations in the World Meteorological Organization-Global Atmospheric Watch (WMO-GAW) network. These stations are defined by the WMO to meet specific criteria for measuring greenhouse and ozone depleting gases in the atmosphere. These stations are crucial for the global network of atmospheric monitoring of climate-warming gases.

The Cape Grim station is positioned just south of the isolated north-west tip of Tasmania. It is an important site, as the air sampled arrives at Cape Grim after long trajectories over the Southern Ocean, under conditions described as "Ëœbaseline'. This baseline air is representative of a large area of the Southern Hemisphere, unaffected by regional pollution sources as there are no nearby cities or industry that would contaminate air quality.

The Cape Grim program came about through a commitment by the Australian Government to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in the early 1970s to monitor and study global atmospheric composition for climate change purposes. The Cape Grim station first began its operations in April 1976 and has been in continuous operation since.

Visit the new monitoring CSIRO website at