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Characteristics of Upper Atmosphere


Development of Methods, Instrumentation and Models for Optical Monitoring of Atmospheric Trace Gases up to 110 km and Study of Their Trend Characteristics

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment
  • ENV-APC/Air Pollution and Control/Environment

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Rudneva V Ya

Leading Institute
Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Vavilov State Optical Institute (GOI), Russia, St Petersburg


  • University of Colorado at Boulder / Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, USA, CO, Boulder\nMax-Planck-Institut fur Meteorologie, Germany, Hamburg\nLancaster University / Departament of Communication Systems, UK, Lancaster\nService d'Aeronomie du CNRS, BP3, 91370 , France, Verrieres le Buisson

Project summary

The average surface air temperature of the planet has risen by about 0.3-0.6K during the 20th century. In the last 2-3 decades the speed of warming has increased noticeably above the average for these 100 years. Much larger temperature trends are observed in the stratosphere and mesosphere. According to IPCC a substantial part of the global climate change is connected with anthropogenic factors.

Therefore, methods and systems must be developed for remote sounding of the spatial distribution of anthropogenic and greenhouse gases, AGG, in order to provide control over the situation and to forecast climatic changes for the coming decades. Such systems will facilitate global and local monitoring of gas concentrations in the atmosphere, reveal sources of excessive emissions, and maintain control over transborder transport of pollution.

One such method, reviewed under this project is an essentially new type of videospectrometer – a gasovisor, developed at the State Optical Institute, GOI, which can obtain, against the background of the Earth's surface, an image and the extent of concentration of these gases with a 50-100m resolution for areas with a square of 40*40km, from satellites at an altitude of 800km. From an aircraft at an altitude of 8 - 10km a resolution of 8 - 10m can be attained in a strip 4km wide.

Recently in connection with the problem of climate change, the study of conditions of the upper atmosphere layers has been attracting a great deal of attention. It is caused, on the one hand, by the real possibility of severe consequences of anthropogenically caused changes in the chemical structure of the atmosphere. An example is stratospheric ozone depletion. On the other hand, according to observations and model simulations, global climate changes, related to an increasing concentration of greenhouse gases, are displayed more strongly in the upper atmosphere layers than in the troposphere, simply because of a lower level of density.

This work aims to generalize all available domestic data on the temperature of the middle and upper atmosphere, obtained by various methods, including the use of published materials on similar measurements in other countries. On the basis of this analysis, it is supposed that a description of the behavior of atmospheric temperature at various altitudes will be obtained, dependent upon season, solar activity and also its long-term trends. The obtained results will be used to develop methods and optical systems for remote sensing of the spatial distribution of important gases of anthropogenic and other origins, and to improve measurement techniques for the middle and upper atmosphere.

Preliminary theoretical and experimental results, which have shown the existence of long-term negative temperature trends in the middle atmosphere, imply that the atmosphere, owing to cooling (mostly in cold seasons), must experience a tendency to monotonous subsidence. In the project an investigation is supposed of the laws of the long-term process оf atmospheric subsidence and the tendency of its development on the basis of available data on the temperature regime of the middle and upper atmosphere, accumulated over the last four-five decades, and also on the basis of previous measurements of trace components in the troposphere and of temperature at certain high-altitude levels of the middle and upper atmosphere. All these expected results would form the basis for development of an essentially new empirical model of the temperature regime of the middle and upper atmosphere, with account of the influence of solar activity and long-term temperature trends.

Basic results of the Project are as follows:

1) Development of new methods for the remote control of trace gases on the basis of modernized videospectroradiometric (visible range of a spectrum) and Fourier- spectrometer equipment (IR range, 7-14 micron) to study spatial–temporary distributions of greenhouse and anthropogeneous gases in the atmosphere, influencing the climatic change of temperature.
2) Modernization of optical instruments (Gasovizor and 4-channel Fourier- spectrometer) for remote measurements of spatial distribution of impurities in the atmosphere, and laboratory and nature tests.
3) Creation of a database, including unique data obtained by Soviet rocket research,spectrophotometric nightglow and radiophysical measurements of the temperature of the middle and upper atmosphere, to facilitate the construction of an empirical model, accounting for long-term trends and variations related to heliogeophysical conditions. The data and models are used for analysis of the current state of the atmosphere, its trend characteristics and improvements of remote sensing methods for measurements of the characteristics of the upper atmosphere.
4) Modification of a numerical model of the middle atmosphere, which can be used to simulate the characteristics of background spatial distribution of anthropogeneous gases, required for the solution of inverse tasks of remote sensing.

The following, in particular, will be presented:

• Аnalytical representations of the dependencies of latitude and temporal variation of atmospheric temperature at altitudes of 30-110km for various heliogeophysical conditions.
• Empirical models of the middle atmosphere accounting for the level of solar activity and long-term trends of its temperature.
• A global model of the variation of intensity, temperature and height of emission layer of hydroxyl, atomic oxygen (557.7nm) and sodium (589.3nm), which can be used for calculations for the given geophysical conditions.
• A model of upper atmosphere density change dependent upon heliogeophysical conditions.

The results of the project have important applications for increasing the accuracy of measurements of atmospheric temperature by remote sensing techniques and for calculating space vehicle motion.

Within the framework of the project the experience of and the experimental and theoretical methods and equipment created by the participants of the project over many years are to be used, while new methods and means are also to be developed. The experience and high qualification of weapons scientists from the All-Russian Center of Science "The Vavilov State Optical Institute" (GOI) connected with the development of original optical equipment and methods of image processing for detection of weak contrast objects for space precision systems, will be widely used. Experts from the A. M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics RAS have large experience of research of the upper atmosphere characteristics with use of the spectrophotometric methods, in frameworks of both Russian and international projects.


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