Measuring the greenhouse and ozone-depleting gas composition of the Earth’s atmosphere continuously for the past 40 years through a global network of sophisticated monitoring stations, the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE, formerly known as the Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (GAGE) and Atmospheric Lifetime Experiment (ALE)) has racked up several notable achievements. Among other things, the network’s measurements have helped estimate the lifetimes of ozone-depleting and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; monitor and pinpoint sources of emissions of chemicals banned by international agreements such as the Montreal Protocol, which outlawed the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); determine concentrations of the atmosphere’s major "cleansing agent,” the hydroxyl radical (OH); and provide data to inform international policy discussions concerning atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions.
To celebrate these and other achievements aimed at improving our understanding of key global chemical and climatic phenomena, nearly 40 AGAGE scientists, collaborators and invited guests from research institutions around the world—many representing dozens more researchers at their home institutions—gathered at a 40th anniversary conference on October 7-12 at the MIT Endicott House. Participants discussed the network’s evolution, impacts and future. (See 40th anniversary photo gallery and journal publication.)