The tropospheric distribution of greenhouse gases (GHGs) depends on surface flux variations, atmospheric chemistry and transport processes over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Accurate and precise atmospheric concentration observations of GHGs can be used to infer surface flux estimates, though their interpretation relies on unbiased atmospheric transport models. GHOST is a novel, compact shortwave infrared spectrometer which will observe tropospheric columns of CO2, CO, CH4 and H2O (along with the HDO/H2O ratio) during deployment on board the NASA Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle. The primary science objectives of GHOST are to: 1) test atmospheric transport models; 2) evaluate satellite observations of GHG column observations over oceans; and 3) complement in-situ tropopause transition layer observations from other Global Hawk instruments. GHOST comprises a target acquisition module (TAM), a fibre slicer and feed system, and a multiple order spectrograph. The TAM is programmed to direct solar radiation reflected by the ocean surface into a fibre optic bundle. Incoming light is then split into four spectral bands, selected to optimise remote observations of GHGs. The design uses a single grating and detector for all four spectral bands. We summarise the GHOST concept and its objectives, and describe the instrument design and proposed deployment aboard the Global Hawk platform.