History and development of the Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory (CVAO)

In 2002, Cabo Verde was identified as an ideal place to conduct research on the interaction of mineral dust (Saharan outflow) with the tropical North Atlantic, also in the context of climate change.

In 2006, in collaboration with the National Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics of Cape Verde (INMG), the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena (MPI-Jena), the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) and the University of York (Uni-Yo) in the UK, the Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory (CVAO) was established with the help of EU funding under the TENATSO project. The CVAO was established in Calhau, Sao Vicente, because it is far from any source of local pollution and is ideal for studies in a pristine marine environment.

The observatory plays an important role in the UK -SOLAS national funding programme. Here, TROPOS took over the aerosol characterisation completely and was thus an important part of UK-SOLAS.

With the help of funds from the Leibniz Association and under the leadership of TROPOS, a 30 m high tower made of German oak was built in 2007 together with the MPI-BGC to house the measuring instruments at a height that is free of strong spray.

CVAO is part of the Tropical Eastern North Atlantic Time Series Observatories (TENATSO) and is currently one of the 31 permanent sites of the Global Atmospheric Watch programme (https://community.wmo.int/en/activity-areas/gaw) and has recently become an ACTRIS site.

CVAO data contribute to meeting governments' climate change detection obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The CVAO undertakes long-term observations of trends in ozone, carbon dioxide, methane and other gases, as well as aerosol composition, which are shared with academic and government users through agencies such as UNFCCC and WMO to alert governments to changes in the Atlantic atmosphere due to pollution episodes or long-term changes.

Cabo Verde's local authorities benefit from the infrastructure in optimising local air quality initiatives, including training of local staff and calibration of environmental protection agency instruments.

The location makes Cabo Verde a springboard for atmospheric research in the Atlantic, as it has been used as a research base by institutes from North America (USA, Canada) and Europe (Spain, Greece, Norway, France).