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In a project funded by the French National Research Agency we are trying to estimate the CO2 emissions from Paris by measuring the atmospheric concentration in and around the city. Our first site is the top of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a nice choice for a measurement site, high and central enough to see air from across the city and the local air quality association AIRPARIF already have a measurement station there.

There’s just one problem: in a few days of test data we collected in June there is this spike around 9am each morning. It’s not traffic; that starts much earlier. It’s almost certainly the arrival of the first tourists at the top viewing platform. Now when we said we wanted to measure the human impact on the atmosphere this is not quite what we meant.

Resorting to the back of the nearest envelope, I think humans respire about 75kg of carbon each year. Even in a city with the unusual population density of Paris that should be dwarfed by emissions from vehicles. We were careful not to make the measurement too close to any car exhaust but we hadn’t thought enough about breathless tower-climbers.

AIRPARIF hadn’t noticed this either since they usually only measure things that humans don’t produce. The solution: Hopefully we can just move the air intake.

[thanks to Ulysses Greene from Flickr for the photo]
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Satellite imagingWe have finally completed our evaluation of various aerosol products derived from satellite observation. The figure above shows one of the many that we have produced in the course of this work. It is a comparison of the various satellite products against sunphotometer measurements considered as the truth. It clearly shows that all instruments or algorithms are not born equal for providing an accurate picture of the aerosol load in the atmosphere. The official products from the Parasol and MODIS missions clearly provide the best results. Whether the quality is sufficient may depend on the application. The quality is certainly sufficient to provide a fair spatial and temporal distribution of the atmospheric load. Similar statistical indicators from model are certainly not as good, which demonstrates that the satellite data can still be used to improve or constrain the models.

On the other hand, I was talking yesterday with a colleague who argued that the quality of the products is still very much insufficient to constrain the aerosol impact on the Earth radiation budget to less than a few tenths of a Watt per square meter. For such objectives, new spaceborne instruments are needed and my colleague was arguing for the forthcoming Glory mission to be launched next year (after many delays). I am not fully convinced that Glory will do very much better than current instruments, but it will certainly improve the characterization of atmospheric aerosols, despite its very limited swath (and therefore coverage).

Example of greenhouse realised in a French secondary school

Example of greenhouse realised in a French secondary school. You can see a CO2 sensor and a thermometer

It is possible to work with secondary schools about GEOmon topics.

In this link (in French), you can find results of five French schools that realised pedagogical projects with a GEOmon partner during the scholar year 2007-2008.

They worked about carbon sinks, by estimating the evolution of them for the next century, they realised construction to understand effect of albedo on global temperature and so on.

If you have any ideas for experiments or activities on GEOmon data that can be realised with pupils aged between 12 and 18, do not hesitate, send them to Marc Jamous!

These works were realised with the help of “La Région Île de France”, an administrative area around Paris.