The Birkenes observatory in Aust-Agder is NILU’s oldest observatory; it has been in operation since 1971. It is one of the longest-running sites in Europe.
Ever since the observatory was established, NILU has conducted measurement programmes there, providing long, continuous measurement series that are extremely valuable. The Birkenes observatory has long been among the most important stations in Europe for measuring transboundary air pollution. In 2009, the observatory moved to a new building and its instrumentation updated and expanded.
The monitoring programmes at Birkenes are mainly part of the National Environmental Monitoring Programme funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency. Some of the monitoring is funded by the Ministry of Climate and Environment within its programme for long time series. In addition to surveillance activities, research campaigns are carried out at the Birkenes observatory.
The monitoring activity is linked to several different international programmes and research infrastructures, such as EMEP (the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme under LRTAP, UNECE), CAMP (the Comprehensive Atmospheric Monitoring Programme under OSPAR), ACTRIS (European Research Infrastructure for the observation of Aerosol, Clouds, and Trace gases), ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System) and WMO/GAW (World Meteorological Organization/Global Atmosphere Watch).
The following are measured at Birkenes:
- Inorganic chemicals (e.g. sulphur and nitrogen compounds)
- Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
- EC/OC (Elementary and organic carbon)
- Ground-level ozone
- Organic environmental pollutants (PAH, PCBs, HCB, DDTs, HCHs, OCPs, BDEs)
- Mercury and trace elements
- Aerosols (physical and optical properties)
- Greenhouse gases (CO, CO2, CH4)