Researchers outside of TAWO Building at Summit
The Big House
NMHC Chromatogram
Summit Site Layout
GC-FID Analyzer
Picarro Analyzer
Summit Location

Atmospheric CO, CO2, Methane, and VOCs at Summit Station, Greenland

Near Real Time Data from a Picarro Analyzer & GC-FID

Background & Project Motivation


Summit Station, Greenland, is a research facility funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and operated in collaboration with the Government of Greenland. The station hosts a diverse array of Geoscience and Astrophysics research projects. With its location on the crest of the Greenland Icecap, at 3209 m above sea level and far distance from civilization, it is the only high altitude and remote atmospheric observatory in the Arctic. Further information about the station and science programs can be found at the GEOSummit Website.

Summit Station has hosted a number of campaign-type snow and atmospheric experiments since the late 1990s. Continuous atmospheric monitoring of atmospheric trace gases began at Summit Station with the onset of its year-round operation in 2000. Subsequently, Summit Station was developed into a NOAA Global Monitoring Division (GMD) Baseline Observatory, and as such has hosted a wide suite of atmospheric gas, aerosol, and radiation measurements. (ESRL)


The Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado has been conducting snow photochemical and atmospheric research at Summit Station since 2003. From 2004 onward, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been quantified in weekly collected glass flasks within the NOAA Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network (Global VOCs). During 2008-2010, including the International Polar Year, VOCs were monitored continuously at ~3 hour time resolution at the site with support from NASA. These measurements, and new methane monitoring, commenced in 2012 under the umbrella of the NSF Arctic Observing Network program. This monitoring has been continuous and uninterrupted since. A particular focus of the ongoing research project is the study of atmospheric implications of increasing Arctic wildfires from climate warming (NSF Award). The VOC monitoring is also a core component of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) program for VOCs (WMO). Ambient air measurements are conducted by fully automated and remotely controlled gas analyzers, located inside the Temporary Atmospheric Watch Observatory (TAWO) at Summit.

Monitoring Methods

This website presents preliminary real-time results of atmospheric methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide that are measured with a Picarro G-2401 instrument and averaged to 1-5 minute time resolution. Methane is also analyzed by gas chromatography with loop injection, packed column separation, and flame ionization detection. VOCs are analyzed eight times a day by pre-concentration onto a micro-adsorbent trap, followed by thermal desorption and gas chromatography separation on an Al2O3 PLOT column. Signals are recorded by flame ionization detection. Currently quantified compounds include ethane, ethene, propane, propene, i-butane, acetylene, n-butane, i-pentane, n-pentane, hexane, benzene, and toluene. Calibration gases for carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane are referenced to the NOAA GMD scale. The VOC calibration is tied to the WMO-GAW. All data are processed with automated scripts. Graphs with near-real time resolution are continually uploaded from the Summit monitoring system and presented below.

Near Real-Time Uncalibrated Data from the Summit Picarro Analyzer

Carbon Monoxide [Picarro]

<Data not displaying: Picarro Carbon Monoxide>

Carbon Dioxide [Picarro]

<Data not displaying: Picarro Carbon Dioxide>

Summit CH4 [Picarro]

<Data not displaying: Methane Plot (Picarro)>

The Picarro analyzer was just installed in May 2019, as such, past data are currently limited.

Selected Volatile Organic Compounds [GC-FID]

Beginning April 29, data from the GC-FID is temporarily unavailable.

Past Data [2008-2018]

Data Requests & Contacts

Further information and data requests should be directed to Investigator Christine Wiedinmyer, CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder. Attn: (Christine.Wiedinmyer@Colorado.EDU)

Project team members include:

  • Louisa Emmons - Co-Principal Investigator, NCAR, Boulder
  • Maria Val Martin - Co-Principal Investigator, University of Sheffield, UK
  • Christine Wiedinmyer - Co-Principal Investigator, CIRES, CU Boulder
  • Hélène Angot - Postdoctoral Associate, INSTAAR
  • Connor Davel - Undergraduate Assistant, INSTAAR
  • Website Developed by Jashan Chopra and Connor Davel - 2021

    Adapted from the Skeleton Framework