Atmosphere & biosphere
Measuring trace gas emissions by means of laboratory studies and field measurements
In order to continuously improve the quality of their optical spectrometric or mass spectrometric field observations, BIRA-IASB scientists have always been aware of the need to combine observations with laboratory studies, so as to be able to model the fundamental physico-chemical processes, in support of the measurement techniques.
In recent years, mass spectrometric laboratory studies and field measurements have mainly focused on quantifying the emissions of Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs) produced from trees.
On a global scale, huge amounts of these highly reactive compounds are released in the atmosphere. Their oxidation in the presence of nitrogen oxides is known to result in ozone and secondary organic aerosols (SOA), that significantly affect air quality. BVOCs also affect climate, a link has clearly been shown between future temperature-related increases in BVOC emissions and global warming at the surface.
Measuring emissions from common tree species in Belgium
Since 2007, measurements of BVOC emissions from common tree species in Belgium (mainly Fagus sylvatica L., also known as European beech) have been performed by BIRA-IASB in the framework of the IMPECVOC project, in close collaboration with the University of Ghent and the University of Liège (Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech).