Press release archive: 2014

NASA's greenhouse gas satellite ready for launch

30.6.2014 9:39

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) will be responsible for ensuring and improving the quality of observations made by NASA's OCO-2 satellite, which will be launched on 1 July. The satellite will measure atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) volumes worldwide.

Photo: NASA

Photo: NASA

The OCO-2 (Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2) satellite, which will collect atmospheric CO2 measurements, is ready to be launched onto its orbit. The satellite is scheduled to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Station in California on-board a Delta II rocket on 1 July at 12.56 pm Finnish time. The satellite will measure atmospheric CO2 worldwide.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute to establish the quality of satellite observations

The FMI will participate in the OCO-2 project by establishing the accuracy of satellite observations and improving their quality. The FMI will do so by conducting carbon dioxide measurements in Sodankylä with a FTS (Fourier Transform Spectrometer) instrument. Sodankylä has been selected as one of the OCO-2 project's key points of reference on the Earth's surface. Measurements carried out in Sodankylä will aim to affirm the accuracy of the OCO-2's measurements in northern regions. FTS measurements were initiated in Sodankylä in 2009, and they have already been utilised to improve the accuracy of the Japanese Gosat satellite's observations.  Another project that has recently been developed in Sodankylä is the so-called AirCore measurement system, which provides accurate elevation profiles for greenhouse gases. These too are used to improve the interpretation of the OCO-2 satellite's observations.

In addition to remote sensing and sounding observations, the atmospheric content of greenhouse gases is continuously monitored from the Earth's surface by the Integrated Carbon Observing System (ICOS). Finland has five stations in the ICOS network, including those in Sodankylä and Pallas.

Finnish Meteorological  Institute utilises measurement data in climate change research

The FMI will also participate in the utilisation of OCO-2 measurements in climate change research. Atmospheric CO2 observations will be used in global model simulations, which will assess the size and location of carbon sources and sinks. There are still gaps in our understanding of carbon sources and sinks, which new measurements will help to fill.  The atmospheric CO2 content has grown steadily since the start of industrialisation. The increase in greenhouse gas volumes impacts the climate and causes climate warming. The OCO-2 satellite will collect atmospheric CO2measurements from all over the globe.  The measurement data will be used to find out the locations of Earth's carbon sources and sinks, so that we can better forecast the advance of climate change and its impacts.

OCO-2 part of a group of five satellites

The OCO-2 satellite will be launched to an altitude of 705 kilometres onto an orbit that passes via the poles. It will orbit in the so-called A-train satellite constellation together with five other satellites and 15 measurement instruments, one of which is the Dutch-Finnish Ozone Monitoring Instrument. These satellites fly along the same orbit only minutes from one another. The OCO-2 will replace a similar satellite the launch of which failed in 2009.

Additional information:

Head of Group Johanna Tamminen, tel. +358 40 191 0746,
Senior research scientist Rigel Kivi, tel. +358 29 539 2728,
Head of Group Tuula Aalto, tel. +358 29 539 5406,