Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Press Release 129/2012

Climate Research: High-tech at 15 Kilometers Height

GLORIA Measures Highly Resolved Distributions of Atmospheric Trace Gases on Board of the New HALO Research Aircraft
HALO hebt ab. Unter dem Rumpf ist der „bellypod“ zu erkennen, in dem das  Infrarotspektrometer GLORIA untergebracht ist. (Foto: KIT)
HALO is taking off. The “bellypod” that accommodates the GLORIA infrared spectrometer can be seen underneath the aircraft fuselage. (Photo: Mahesh Kumar Sha, KIT)

GLORIA, the innovative imaging infrared spectrometer of Karls-ruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), will take part in the first at-mospheric science mission of the new German HALO research aircraft from the Arctic to the Antarctic. On August 20, HALO will be handed over to the scienctific community by Germany’s Federal Minister Professor Annette Schavan. GLORIA, a novel and worldwide unique infrared imaging spectrometer developed jointly by research groups from KIT and Forschungszentrum Jülich, has been installed on board of HALO in a bellypod, a dedicated compartment mounted underneath the aircraft fuselage,. During TACTS, the first atmospheric science mission of HALO , GLORIA will measure climate-relevant atmospheric trace gases with unprecedented spatial coverage and resolution.

GLORIA is the acronym of “Gimballed Limb Observer for Radiance Imaging of the Atmosphere.“ This complicated name refers to a new class  of infrared spectrometers. IR spectrometers decompose thermal radiation emitted by atmospheric gases into its spectral colors. As a result, these gases can be determined very precisely. GLORIA combines an IR detector field with a spectrometer. The result is a type of IR camera, by means of which the spatial distribu-tion of the gases can be measured as well. GLORIA was developed jointly by KIT and Forschungszentrum Jülich under the framework of a large investment program of the Helmholtz Association. It is the first of a new generation of IR instruments worldwide, which are planned to be used on airborne carriers and on board of satellites to improve weather forecast and climate models.

“The GLORIA experiment is central constituent of the HALO-TACTS scientific measurement campaign that is aimed at studying the com-position of the upper troposphere and lowermost stratosphere along with exchange processes between such atmospheric compartments,” explains Hermann Oelhaf, who coordinates the project on the part of the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research of KIT. “With GLORIA, we measure temperature, cloud parameters, and a number of climate-relevant trace gases at altitudes from 5 to 15 km with high spatial resolution. Among these gases are carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and water vapor as well as many nitrogen and chlorine containing compounds.”

Das Infrarotspektrometer GLORIA nach der Montage unter dem Rumpf von HALO. (Foto: KIT)

The GLORIA infrared spectrometer after installation underneath the body of HALO.

(Photo: Mahesh K. Sha, KIT)


TACTS (Transport and Composition in the Upper Tropo-sphere/Lowermost Stratosphere) is a measurement campaign over several weeks coordinated by the University of Frankfurt. Measure-ments between Europe and Africa are planned. In addition, meas-urement flights will be made from 80°N to 70°S during the ESMVAL campaign (coordinated by DLR) forvalidating chemistry-climate models. Measurements of two-dimensional distributions by GLORIA will considerably extend the database of the rather locally measuring (in-situ) instruments forming a large part of the HALO payload.

The HALO research aircraft is a joint initiative of German environ-mental and climate research institutions. HALO is financed from funds of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), Helmholtz Association, Max Planck Society (MPG), Leibniz Association, the Free State of Bavaria, the German Research Center for Geosciences GFZ, For-schungszentrum Jülich, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).


Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,300 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 24,400 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

jh, 20.08.2012
Monika Landgraf

Monika Landgraf
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