Sierra Negra volcano will soon stand as the witness to the world’s highest-altitude greenhouse gas-monitoring center. The plan to build this gas-monitoring system atop the volcano peak is the brainchild of Sir Crispin Tickell, Britain’s former ambassador to the United Nations and a longtime advocate of confronting climate change.
The initial fund of $1.9 million for this project has been raised by the Washington-based Climate Institute along with other foundations and companies of similar interest. According to Luis Acosta, the Climate Institute’s director for Mexico and Latin American Affairs, the station, which is expected to go into service sometime in mid-2008, will bear Tickell’s name. The observatory, which will be the latest to contribute to the World Meteorological Organization Data Center for Greenhouse Gases, will stand near the Large Millimeter telescope, considered the largest of its kind.
The significance of having a gas-monitoring system at such high altitude lies in the fact that centers closer to sea level may capture local pollution variations while a gas-monitoring system that is situated at 15,117-foot height will be free from such variations. In Sir Crispin Tickell’s words,
The importance of having it high (in altitude), rather than low, is that you can get the global picture. For that reason, you go as high as you reasonably can.
Once erected, the new gas-monitoring system will join a worldwide web of similar labs at lower altitudes measuring air particles, radiation and gases such as carbon dioxide. And, of course, it will surpass the two gas-monitoring observatories that are currently regarded as the towers of importance due to their high-altitude set-up – the Mt. Waliguan station in China, which stands at 12,575 feet, and the Niwot Ridge, Colorado station, at 11,467 feet.