About Climate Research


Climate change is one of the most urgent problems of our time. It can cause shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, rising sea levels that increase the risk major floods, and cause refugee and immigration flows. In the year 2015, within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) the Paris Agreement was signed by 195 countries agreeing to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions for a sustainable low carbon future.


The reach and technology of Clear Air is focused on

  • Consistent and accurate detection and quantification of greenhouse gas emissions on different scales – from individual ships, farms and gas pipe leakages to the country level
  • Improve our understanding of the interplay between air pollutants and aerosols and climate change, including interpretation of methane emissions and the formation of tropospheric ozone and secondary aerosols
  • Improve our understanding of the changes in chemical regimes and cycles in atmosphere, such as the carbon cycle

Activities include amongst others:

  • Develop of satellite instruments with sufficient high spatial, temporal resolution and precision, for GHG emission quantification (CO2 and CH4) and supporting instrumentation (NO2, CO, Cloud, aerosol)
  • Development of modeling frameworks for the detection and quantification of emission including by using satellite data at various
  • Integration of large diversity of measurements (SAR, UV, VIS, NIR, SWIR, TIR, passive-active)
  • Contribute to making of improved emission inventories with reduce temporal and spatial uncertainties

What is the value?

The work of Clear Air contributes to climate change research, for example for to improve climate models and predictions.
In particular, our work with satellite provide a unique opportunity for collecting independent data on a global scale for monitoring emissions. This improved predictions and measurement information support policy of the Netherlands and European countries and major economic decisions that are required for greenhouse gas emission reduction.


A Dutch group of scientists working in Clear Air has used satellite instrument TROPOMI to calculate methane emissions from six Australian coal mines. Together these account for 7% of the national coal production, but turn out to emit around 55% of what Australia reports for their total coal mining methane emissions. Australia is in the top-5 coal producing countries in the world. It reports coal mining methane emissions of a million tons per year. ‘It is hard to believe that 7% of coal production is responsible for 55% of coal mining methane emissions,’ says Prof. Ilse Aben (SRON/VU), leading the team of researchers. ‘So in reality, Australia’s coal mining methane emissions are likely much higher than reported. More importantly, knowing which mines have such large emissions is critical in focusing efforts for mitigation.’

Areas of research

The research and technology development work of Clear is focused on three main areas.

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