Published: 17 Jul 2013

The carbon budget of Arctic ecosystems is still uncertain as key components of the complex Arctic biological-climatologic-hydrologic system are yet to be reliably quantified. Several projects in the Arctic Research Programme have an interest in understanding this biological/climatological/hydrological system in addressing Objective 2 of the ARP Science Plan. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a project CARVE ( Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment) to collect detailed measurements of important greenhouse gases on local to regional scales in the Alaskan Arctic. It is then utilising improved modelling capabilities to quantify Arctic carbon fluxes and carbon cycle-climate processes. Such information is highly relevant to ARP.

The CARVE airborne platform includes an L-band radiometer/radar and a nadir-viewing spectrometer to deliver the first simultaneous measurements of surface parameters that control gas emissions (i.e., soil moisture, freeze/thaw state, surface temperature) and total atmospheric columns of carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide. The aircraft payload also includes a gas analyzer that links greenhouse gas measurements directly to World Meteorological Organization standards. The airborne measurements are linked to continuous ground-based measurements providing temporal and regional context and calibrations for the CARVE airborne measurements.

The CARVE project has released selected Level 1 and Level 2 data to the public from the 2012 campaign (May through September)and this can be accessed via

Image credit: NASA JPL