Monitoring the atmosphere, changing the world

Complete Article From the publisher.

Measuring the greenhouse and ozone-depleting gas composition of the Earth’s atmosphere continuously for the past 40 years through a global network of sophisticated monitoring stations, the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) has racked up numerous notable achievements.

Among other things, the network’s measurements have helped estimate the lifetimes of ozone-depleting and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; monitor and pinpoint sources of emissions of chemicals banned by international agreements such as the Montreal Protocol, which outlawed the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); determine concentrations of the atmosphere’s major cleansing agent, the hydroxyl radical (OH); and provide data to inform international policy discussions concerning atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions.

To celebrate these and other achievements aimed at improving our understanding of key global chemical and climatic phenomena, nearly 40 AGAGE scientists, collaborators, and invited guests from research institutions around the world (many representing dozens more researchers at their home institutions) gathered at a 40th anniversary conference earlier this month at Endicott House. Participants discussed the network’s evolution, impacts, and future.

History

Founded in 1978, AGAGE has also been known as the Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (GAGE) and the Atmospheric Lifetime Experiment (ALE). Co-founder and leader Ronald Prinn has helped ALE/GAGE/AGAGE merge theory with experimental procedures to measure atmospheric concentrations and