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China’s first greenhouse gas observation network basically established

By Li Hongmei, People’s Daily

China Meteorological Administration (CMA) recently released its first national greenhouse gas observation network directory, which means that after nearly 40 years of construction China’s first greenhouse gas observation network has been basically established.

The network is expected to improve China’s capacity for observation and assessment of climate change and continuously provide data support for the country’s efforts to peak carbon dioxide emissions and achieve carbon neutrality.

The national greenhouse gas observation network directory includes 60 stations focusing on high-precision observation and covering major critical climate areas in the country.

Photo shows a magnificent view of snow-covered Mount Waliguan in northwest China’s Qinghai province. (Photo/China Meteorological Administration)
Photo shows a magnificent view of snow-covered Mount Waliguan in northwest China’s Qinghai province. (Photo/China Meteorological Administration)

The network is comprised of organizations including the country’s national atmospheric baseline observatory, national climate observatory, as well as national and provincial applied meteorological (greenhouse gas) observation stations.

Seven types of greenhouse gases specified in the Kyoto Protocol, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbon, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride, are observed under the network.

China is one of the first countries in the world to carry out background observation of greenhouse gases. In 1982, the country’s first regional atmospheric background monitoring station was put into operation in Beijing.

In 1994, China Global Atmosphere Watch Baseline Observatory on Mount Waliguan, Hainan Tibetan autonomous prefecture, northwest China’s Qinghai province, was established at an altitude of 3,816 meters on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Its monitoring data have enjoyed a great reputation in the world, making China rank high among countries in the world in terms of greenhouse gas observation.

The China Global Atmosphere Watch Baseline Observatory is one of the 31 global atmospheric baseline stations in the international atmosphere watch network coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as well as the only continental global atmospheric baseline observatory in the hinterland of Eurasia.

The observatory can measure the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere after adequate mixing. Its data are quite regionally representative.

Photo shows the outdoor observation field of China Global Atmosphere Watch Baseline Observatory at Mount Waliguan in northwest China’s Qinghai province. (Photo/China Meteorological Administration)
Photo shows the outdoor observation field of China Global Atmosphere Watch Baseline Observatory at Mount Waliguan in northwest China’s Qinghai province. (Photo/China Meteorological Administration)

The observational results of the observatory can represent the concentrations and changes of atmospheric greenhouse gases in the inland regions in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

“The greenhouse gas data from China Global Atmosphere Watch Baseline Observatory at Mount Waliguan are supporting data of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),” said Zhai Panmao, Co-Chair of the Working Group I that participated in the production of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations and chief scientist of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences (CAMS).

When China started practical exploration of background atmospheric observation and established its first regional atmospheric background monitoring station in Beijing in 1981, the trend of rising carbon dioxide concentrations across the globe became increasingly prominent and global atmospheric baseline observatories were set up in many regions including the North Pole and the South Pole. The hinterland of the Eurasian continent was an exception, which meant that the data provided by existing observation stations then couldn’t represent the changes of Earth.

In 1994, China Global Atmosphere Watch Baseline Observatory at Mount Waliguan was put into service, and the WMO officially awarded the station identification number WLG236N10.

Over the past few decades, the atmospheric monitoring stations in the country have evolved into a three-dimensional integrated greenhouse gas monitoring system integrating ground, air, and space observations, further improving China’s capacity for observing and responding to climate change.     

The country now has a national greenhouse gas observation network that consists of a total of seven national atmospheric background monitoring stations including the China Global Atmosphere Watch Baseline Observatory at Mount Waliguan and six regional atmospheric background monitoring stations in Beijing, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, east China’s Zhejiang province, central China’s Hubei province, southwest China’s Yunnan province, and northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

“After nearly 40 years of exploration, our country has formed a complete system covering atmospheric composition observation, correction, product, application, and service, and finally basically established today’s greenhouse gas observation network,” said Cao Xiaozhong, head of the comprehensive observation division of the CMA.

The greenhouse gas observation network will have a profound influence, said Zhang Xiaoye, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a researcher with the CAMS.

Since the beginning of this year, the CMA has, relying on sequence data and professional team, established a national greenhouse gas and carbon neutrality monitoring and assessment center with branches in multiple provinces, and a system for evaluating the effectiveness of China’s carbon neutrality actions, enabling the country to accurately distinguish natural and man-made carbon fluxes at the global, regional and urban scales and make progress in peaking carbon dioxide emissions and achieving carbon neutrality, Zhang noted.

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