Ecuador contributes to the NASA SHADOZ network with 36 probes per year through the USFQ Atmospheric Measurement Station

Atmospheric Measurement Station

The Atmospheric Measurement Station (EMA) of USFQ, which belongs to the Environmental Engineering Career and the USFQ College of Sciences and Engineering, has two stations – one located in Quito and the other on San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos.
Atmospheric measurement equipment
Promoting research, teaching, and learning of atmospheric phenomena allows us to better understand our environments and thus be able to contribute with solutions towards the global issue of climate change. Her current project, “Ozone and water vapor in the equatorial Americas: compilation and analysis of data from Ticosondas, and SHADOZ observations in Costa Rica and Ecuador”, generates a database and time series of the vertical profiles of ozone and meteorological variables.

Dr. María del Carmen Cazorla is a professor and researcher at USFQ, and also the principal investigator of this project in Ecuador. “Climate change is a problem of rapid change in atmospheric composition. One of the key constituents of this composition is ozone, since its abundance throughout the atmospheric column affects the energy balance on the planet. Thus, tropospheric ozone, in addition to being an air pollutant, is one of the so-called short-lived climate forcing agents,” says María del Carmen.

The ozone layer is important for the planet because it protects us from ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, it is not uncommon to hear that without the ozone layer, life would not be possible on Earth.

María del Carmen also added that, “The stratosphere plays a predominant role because it absorbs ultraviolet energy. For this reason, in situ monitoring of both the stratosphere and the troposphere through ozone soundings is a first-hand tool for understanding changes in ozone levels and, therefore, their impact on climate. Ozone data from surveys around the globe help feed back into satellite measurements, which are crucial in observing our planet and its climate.”
Ozone Monitor
The method used is the ozone sounding on board a meteorological balloon, which consists of real-time monitoring of the ozone concentration, pressure, temperature, and humidity throughout the atmospheric column, from the surface to 30 km of altitude above the sea level. The weather balloon is a vehicle to which measuring instruments for atmospheric physics and chemistry are anchored. These sensors are called probes. The data that makes up the vertical profiles and allows the study of changes in the composition of the atmosphere is transmitted to the ground station. “The goal is to launch 24 probes a year from Galapagos and 12 from Quito, which are synchronized between the two sites. This makes up a contribution of 36 annual profiles from USFQ for the SHADOZ network. This is a contribution from Ecuador to the global science of ozone and climate change”, added María del Carmen.

The project is in its second year of monitoring, which has been of great help in creating the database with climate projections. These results allow us to understand the region according to changes in atmospheric composition, from the Andes to the Galapagos Islands.
Atmospheric measurement equipment
“We are beginning the second year of monitoring under this project that lasts four years, but with a view to being long-term. Since 2014, ozone surveys have been carried out at the Atmospheric Measurement Station at USFQ in Quito. In 2020, we received the auspices of the Vienna Convention, to monitor, under the objectives of the Montreal Protocol, the stratospheric ozone over the equatorial Andes. This successful record of ozone soundings from USFQ was the open door to receive the invitation to integrate the SHADOZ network with our two stations in Quito and Galapagos,” says María del Carmen

The realization of the project will not only increase the data and understanding of the ozone layer but also contribute to the validation of satellite data.

Learn more about the work of the Institute of Atmospheric Research IIA USFQ on its website:

Visit the USFQ public repository where you will find the project data:

Also, find out more about the NASA SHADOZ Network at:

If you want to know more about the project, here are some articles and papers of interest:

An ozonesonde evaluation of spaceborne observations in the Andean tropics.

Ozone structure over the equatorial Andes from balloon-borne observations and zonal connection with two tropical sea level sites. Ozone structure over the equatorial Andes from balloon-borne observations and zonal connection with two tropical sea level sites | SpringerLink

Characterizing ozone throughout the atmospheric column over the tropical Andes from in situ and remote sensing observations. Characterizing ozone throughout the atmospheric column over the tropical Andes from in situ and remote sensing observations | Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene | University of California Press ( 

Air quality in the Galapagos Islands: A baseline view from remote sensing and in situ measurements. Air quality in the Galapagos Islands: A baseline view from remote sensing and in situ measurements – Cazorla – 2020 – Meteorological Applications – Wiley Online Library

Interview with María del Carmen.  

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In 2022, the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) and the broader UNC & USFQ Galapagos Initiative will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. We are proud to announce the World Summit on Island Sustainability scheduled to be held on June 26–30, 2022 at the Galapagos Science Center and the Community Convention Center on San Cristobal Island.

The content of the World Summit will be distributed globally through social media and results documented through papers published in a book written as part of the Galapagos Book Series by Springer Nature and edited by Steve Walsh (UNC) & Carlos Mena (USFQ) as well as Jill Stewart (UNC) and Juan Pablo Muñoz (GSC/USC). The book will be inclusive and accessible by the broader island community including scientists, managers, residents, tourists, and government and non-government organizations.

While the most obvious goal of organizing the World Summit on Island Sustainability is to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the GSC and the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, other goals will be addressed through special opportunities created as part of our operational planning of the World Summit.

For instance, we seek to elevate and highlight the Galapagos in the island conservation discourse, seeking to interact with other island networks in more obvious and conspicuous ways to benefit the Galapagos Islands, the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, and the world. We will seize the opportunity to further develop the I2N2 – International Islands Network-of-Networks. Further, we wish to highlight and emphasize multiple visions of a sustainable future for the Galapagos Islands and we cannot do this alone. Therefore, engaging the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, the Government Council of Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park, and local Galapagos authorities, including government and non-government organizations and local citizen groups, is imperative.

The Galapagos Science Center on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Borrowing from Hawaii’s and Guam’s Green Growth Program and the Global Island Partnership, we wish to examine existing global programs that emphasize island sustainability and their incorporation into life, policies, and circumstances in the Galapagos Islands. We will also seek to enhance our connections with the institutional members of our International Galapagos Science Consortium and expand the Consortium through the recruitment of other member institutions. We will also work to benefit islands and their local communities by working with citizen groups as well as important NGOs who seek to improve the natural conditions in the Galapagos and diminish the impact of the human dimension on the future of Galapagos’ ecosystems.

Lastly, we will use the World Summit to benefit UNC & USFQ and our constituencies through a strong and vibrant communication plan about the World Summit, creating corporate relationships as sponsors, identifying funding goals through donors, and benefiting our study abroad program for student engagement in the Galapagos Islands. We plan to develop and issue a Galapagos Sustainability Communique after the World Summit that includes the vision and insights of all its participants for a sustainable Galapagos with applicability to global island settings.

We are eager to hear your perspective and have you join us at the World Summit on Island Sustainability!