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The Zeppelin observatory is located on Zeppelin Mountain, close to Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard. At 79°N, the station lies in an undisturbed arctic environment, far from major sources of pollution. The observatory’s unique location makes it an ideal platform for monitoring changes in global atmosphere and pollution.

NILU has monitored air quality at the Zeppelin observatory since 1989. NILU’s very first air measurements in Svalbard were made in Ny-Ålesund in 1974.

The monitoring activity is linked to several different international programmes and research infrastructures, such as EMEP (the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme under LRTAP, UNECE), AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme), ACTRIS (European Research Infrastructure for the observation of Aerosol, Clouds, and Trace gases), ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System) and WMO/GAW (World Meteorological Organization/Global Atmosphere Watch).

NILU operates the Zeppelin observatory in close cooperation with the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). NPI is responsible for daily technical maintenance of the observatory, while NILU has the scientific responsibility.

The following are measured at Zeppelin:

  • Greenhouse gases (CO, CO2, CH4 and N2O)
  • Chlorinated and fluorinated greenhouse gases (more than 30), which are also covered by the Montreal Protocol (ozone-depleting compounds)
  • New greenhouse gases such as some HFCs and SO2F2
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Aerosols (physical and optical properties) in close collaboration with Stockholm University
  • Ozone layer and UV radiation
  • Inorganic components (e.g. sulphur and nitrogen compounds) and ground-level ozone
  • Organic matter and trace elements
  • Organic environmental pollutants (PAH, PCBs, HCB, DDTs, HCHs, OCPs, BDEs)
  • Mercury and trace elements

Link to data from the measurements at Zeppelin (EBAS)

NILU does research from the Arctic to the Antarctic

The reason why it is so important to measure air quality in the Arctic and Antarctica is that these are the most vulnerable areas. It is here the scientists first discover any changes.

With observatories both at Trollhaugen in Antarctica and on Zeppelin Mountain in Svalbard, NILU is one of the few institutions that conduct atmospheric research at both “poles”. By comparing measurement results from the two, we hope to acquire important new knowledge about transport and effects related to pollution on a global scale, contributing to international research in this field.