What is CARIBIC ?
CARIBIC is an aircraft based
scientific project. Before take-off a special air freight
container filled with scientific equipment is loaded into the
cargo compartment of a passenger aircraft. The container is connected to
the outside air through a system of tubes. Instead of suitcases this
CARIBIC container contains scientific
Whilst passengers enjoy their flight, all the equipment
automatically and quietly carries out thousands of
The idea to use passenger aircraft for making atmospheric
observations is very attractive, and it works: that is what
CARIBIC is about.
Why CARIBIC, why use a passenger aircraft ?
Special scientific research aircraft are very expensive ! For
each flight-hour it is up to 10 times as expensive as in
CARIBIC. The other way to research
the atmosphere is to use satellites. However the measurements from
a satellite in space cannot be sufficiently detailed and accurate.
Satellite data give the broad picture, but lack detail. Satellites
are of course also extremely expensive. However there are
important roles for research aircraft and satellites.
Passenger aircraft however do fly regularly all over the
globe over large distances. So, why not do measurements at the
same time? Indeed, the logic of using passenger aircraft is
What do we measure with the CARIBIC container ?
The container has equipment for measuring ozone of course, but
also carbon monoxide (a major polluting gas), and dust particles.
Interestingly the container has a system for collecting air
samples. These air samples are analyzed in the laboratory. For
each sample we measure more than 40 gases. Including the ozone
killers (CFC's), and all greenhouse gases.