Ireland to spend almost €3m researching climate change in atmosphere

22 Dec 2014

The Irish Government has allocated €2.9m to fund a new research project at University College Cork (UCC) to develop a technology for airborne monitoring of the Earth’s atmosphere on a global scale.

Announced this morning by the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English, TD, the project will run for three years as an integral part of Europe’s solution to global atmospheric monitoring through the observation platform CARIBIC. It will create research positions at UCC.

The funding is part of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)’s Strategic Partnership Programme and includes a significant contribution from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

Along with world-class experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado, Dr Albert ‘Andy’ Ruth, senior lecturer in experimental physics at UCC and Prof Johannes Orphal, head of the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, will develop ultra-sensitive instrumentation for the detection of reactive trace gases in the upper troposphere, the region of the atmosphere where most international air traffic takes place.

Triangle of excellence

The technology will be deployed in a fully automated container on board Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 and will operate on regular flights to more than 20 destinations worldwide, including cities in East Asia and South Africa, as well as North America and South America.

“We are proud that through the recognition of UCC’s expertise in ultra-sensitive trace gas detection by SFI we will be given the opportunity to deliver solutions for some of the most challenging problems in global atmospheric sciences,” Ruth explained.

“Teaming up with our world-class partners in Karlsruhe and Boulder, we will form a ‘triangle of excellence’ for the development of cutting-edge optical monitoring technology with the potential for further commercial exploitation and for the economic benefit of Ireland.”

Global warming image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years