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SCISAT: Celebrating 15 years of success

A satellite critical for the environment

For the past 15 years, Canada's SCISAT satellite has been measuring ozone and ozone-depleting substances. It tracks over 60 atmospheric trace and related gases – more substances than any other satellite in the world – many of which are not monitored by any other space-based instrument.

Since its launch, SCISAT data has been used by over 1400 researchers in over 300 research institutions from over 20 countries. It has been used in more than 440 scientific journal publications and almost 50 scientific discoveries, 43 of which involve Canadian researchers and 20 of which are led by Canadians.

A vital asset in the global fight against climate change

One example of substances that only SCISAT can measure from space is hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). HCFCs were introduced as an alternative to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), compounds once used as blowing agents for foams and packing materials, and most notably in aerosol sprays and as refrigerants. CFCs were banned through the Montreal Protocol, an international UN agreement between 197 countries, aimed at protecting Earth's ozone layer.

While HCFCs have a radiative forcing effect 10 times weaker than that of CFCs, they are considered harmful to Earth's ozone layer. SCISAT is currently the only space-based instrument with the ability to measure these pollutants and their impact on the environment. That makes SCISAT a critical asset in the global fight against climate change and a strong achievement for Canada.

 Did you know?

SCISAT is the only satellite that can measure the vertical profiles of:

  • multiple key ozone-depleting substances: CFC-11, CFC-12, CH4, HF, and SF6;
  • HCFCs, introduced as an alternative to CFCs after the latter were banned through the Montreal Protocol in 1987;
  • all major greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, CFCs and O3), targeted for monitoring by the Paris Agreement.

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