The observatory is located in the Arctic on Zeppelin Mountain, close to Ny-Ålesund, in the island archipelago of Svalbard. (see map). At 79° N, the station is located in an undisturbed arctic environment, away from major pollution sources. Influence from local pollution sources, such as from the nearby community of Ny-Ålesund is also limited by the observatory’s location at 474 metres a.s.l, which means that most of the time it is above the local inversion layer (see view from the observatory towards Ny-Ålesund). The unique location of the observatory makes it an ideal platform for the monitoring of global atmospheric change and long-range pollution transport.
The main goals of NILU’s research at the Zeppelin Observatory are:
Studies of climate-related matters and stratospheric ozone
Exploration of atmospheric long-range transport of pollutants. This includes greenhouse gases, ozone, persistent organic pollutants, aerosols and others.
Characterization of the arctic atmosphere and studies of atmospheric processes and changes
NILU conducts measurements of more than 20 greenhouse gases, including halogenated greenhouse gases, methane, CO2 (from 2011) and ozone.
Air particle amounts are monitored using a Precision Filter Radiometer (PFR) sun photometer, which provides aerosol optical depth (AOD). High sampling frequency produces valuable data for the examination of episodes caused by the long-range transport of pollutants as well as a good foundation for studying trends and global atmospheric change. Most of the data are available from http://ebas.nilu.no/. The FLEXPART model provides a powerful tool in the analysis of episodes (lenke).
A wide range of other measurements not directly related to greenhouse gas monitoring are conducted at the Zeppelin Observatory, including daily measurements of sulphur and nitrogen compounds (SO2, SO42-, (NO3- + HNO3) and (NH4+ + NH3), the main compounds found in precipitation (performed in Ny-Ålesund), total gaseous mercury, particulate heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants in the air (HCB, HCH, PCB, DDT, PAH, etc.), and tropospheric ozone. The Zeppelin Observatory is also frequently involved in different international scientific efforts, such as the International Polar Year.