Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (IASB-BIRA)

The Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (IASB-BIRA) is one of the ten Belgian federal scientific research institutions. Created in 1964, its main tasks are research and public service in the fields of atmospheric chemistry and physics including the study of the earth magnetosphere and its interaction with the solar wind. IASB-BIRA has a strong involvement in the remote sensing of the Earth’s atmosphere using ground-based, balloon-, air- or space-borne instruments. It also conducts state-of-the-art research on theoretical and numerical modelling of the atmosphere.
Within the atmospheric chemistry and physics department, the focus is on stratospheric and tropospheric studies in relation to ozone depletion, global air quality, volcanic emissions, polar processes, etc. Long-term changes are evaluated in the context of the changing climate. One important research area concerns tropospheric chemistry, with a focus on natural and manmade emissions, like tropospheric ozone precursors, the relationship to air quality and the evolution of greenhouse gases in support of the Kyoto Protocol. Forecasting of chemical weather is also being developed.

Relevant to this project the Tropospheric Chemistry Modelling Group and the UV-Visible DOAS Research Group are being involved. The former has a strong expertise on the emissions, chemistry and role of chemical compounds involved in the global budget of oxidants and on the formation of organic aerosols in the troposphere. In particular, the group focuses on the study of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), which constitute a very important class of ozone precursors, by developing models in order to estimate their emissions, oxidation mechanisms, potential for secondary aerosol formation, and impact on the tropospheric composition. Inverse modelling of emissions of reactive gases is another domain of expertise of the group. It is used to put constraints on the emissions of ozone precursors through the use of satellite observations of e.g. NO2, CO, HCHO, glyoxal.
Within the UV-Vis DOAS group, the focus is on the development and use of retrieval algorithms to monitor the atmospheric composition using ground-based and satellite observations. Since the mid-nineties, a strong expertise has been developed with regards to the exploitation of the successive European sensors GOME, SCIAMACHY and GOME-2, for the derivation of the global distribution of a number of important atmospheric gases such as ozone, NO2, BrO, H2CO, SO2 and glyoxal. In parallel the group has been involved with the development of correlative ground-based remote-sensing observations as part of the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Changes (NDACC). Both groups have a long experience of being involved and/or running ESA and EU projects, such as e.g. the DUE TEMIS, GSE, GEOMON, PROMOTE, ACCENT, GlobEmission, etc.

Main tasks
The main tasks of IASB-BIRA’s tropospheric modelling group are the derivation of emissions of biogenic VOCs, both bottom-up and from space, and anthropogenic VOCs for China by using satellite retrievals of formaldehyde and glyoxal, as well as their long-term impacts on surface ozone.
The main tasks of IASB-BIRA’s UV-Vis team are the improvement of satellite retrievals of HCHO, NO2 and glyoxal and the investigation of the impacts of tropospheric aerosols on the retrievals. They will also be involved in providing validation measurements obtained at Beijing and Xianghe between 2008 and the present date.