The Bureau of Meteorology's Baseline Air Pollution Station at Cape Grim, north-west Tasmania.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Baseline Air Pollution Station at Cape Grim, north-west Tasmania.

Our changing atmosphere

CSIRO's changing atmosphere research improves our understanding of the composition and sources of our changing atmosphere to better inform policy.

  • 17 July 2006 | Updated 14 October 2011

Changing levels of greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere are key concerns of governments, the community and industry.

Through modelling, measurement and key partnerships CSIRO's Changing Atmosphere research, led by Dr Paul Fraser, contributes to integrated solutions and sound management strategies for climate change and ozone-depletion issues.

CSIRO addresses key science issues in research that:

  • advance our knowledge of the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases through the development of world-class measurement and modelling techologies
  • deliver world-class atmospheric chemistry for the Southern Hemishere
  • provide scientific leadership of the Cape Grim greenhouse gas program, which monitors and studies global and regional atmospheric composition from the Cape Grim station managed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology
  • assist the nation to respond to climate change and climate variability
  • quantify and assist in reducing, capturing and storing greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation, transport and industrial processes.

Outcomes

There are a range of key outcomes from CSIRO’s Changing Atmosphere research group.

We measure all the important greenhouse gases, and operate the world's second largest network for global atmospheric monitoring of greenhouse gases.

Our 2 000-year records of greenhouse gases are the benchmark for climate change models, contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclusion that most of the warming of the past 50 years is due to greenhouse gases.

CSIRO's Changing Atmosphere research contributes to integrated solutions and sound management strategies for climate change and ozone depletion issues.

CSIRO’s Changing Atmosphere research group has produced the most precise record yet of greenhouse gas fluctuations in the Southern Hemisphere over the past 2000 years. The records show carbon dioxide's contribution to global warming is accelerating.

Research involving CSIRO has shown that over the past six years, there has been no growth in atmospheric methane - the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide - compared to a 150 percent rise since pre-industrial times.

CSIRO research has revealed that concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a main cause of ozone depletion over the past 25 years, are declining. Adherence to the Montreal Protocol could see the ozone hole close by the end of the century.

Development of the LoFlo CO2 analyser has led to a ten-fold improvement in the precision of atmospheric measurement of carbon dioxide (CO2). The analyser has applications in testing for leaks when carbon dioxide from power stations is captured and stored underground (geosequestration), and for assessing indoor air quality.

Partnerships

Our involvement in the National Research Flagships contributes to:

  • environmental solutions in energy production
  • minimising the environmental footprint of industry
  • the development of frontier techologies. 

Read more about the Precise record of greenhouse gas build-up (Media release 14 Nov 05).