The University of Toronto Atmospheric Observatory (TAO), located at 43.66 N, 79.40 W, and 174 m above sea level, is ideally placed for long-term studies of the urban atmosphere at mid-latitudes. TAO was established in 2001, and is located on the 16th floor of the McLennan Physical Laboratories Burton Tower, at the St. George Campus in downtown Toronto. The image above is a panorama from the rooftop.
A high-resolution Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer is the primary instrument at TAO and has been operating since October 2001, with daily measurements being made since May 2002. It is used to record solar absorption spectra on a daily basis, allowing the absorption lines of about 20 molecules and isotopes, including ozone, chlorine reservoirs, nitrogen- and carbon-containing compounds, and dynamical tracers to be distinguished. These data are used for long-term measurements of stratospheric and tropospheric trace gases, studies of urban pollution and mid-latitude atmospheric chemistry, and satellite data validation. See some of our data here.
The TAO FTIR spectrometer is affiliated with the international Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC) and was approved as a Complementary Measurement Station by the NDACC in March 2004, based on the results of a refereed algorithm and data comparison exercise. Now, all Primary and Complementary Sites are simply considered NDACC Measurement Stations. TAO is also a site in the Canadian FTIR Observing Network (CAFTON).
Several other instruments are also installed at TAO, some on a campaign bases, including a Brewer ozone spectrophotometer, a weather station, a UV-Visible grating spectrometer, a SAOZ instrument, a VLF lightning detector (now out of use), and a custom-built suntracker. Read more about our instrumentation here.
TAO has received support from ABB Bomem, CFCAS, CFI, CSA, CRESTech, Environment Canada, NSERC, ORDCF, PREA, and the University of Toronto.