Virtual Institute "Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus"

DLR-Vorstandsvorsitzender Prof. Johann-Dietrich Wörner,
Staatsekretär Dr. Otmar Bernhard,
Bundesumweltminister Sigmar Gabriel (v.l.)
Principal representatives from the German Weather Service (DWD), the Federal Environmental Office (UBA), the Karlsruhe Research Center, the National Center for Environment and Health (GSF) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) met on 17 July at the Schneefernerhaus Environmental Research Station (UFS) on the Zugspitze mountain. With the participation of Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Minister of the Environment, and state secretary Dr. Otmar Bernhard of Bavaria’s State Ministry of Environment, Health and Consumer Protection, the chairmen announced that their institutions will cooperate as partners in the virtual institute “Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus” With the close agreement and support of the Free State of Bavaria, this station will be systematically expanded into an internationally linked center of competence over the next few years.

The focus will be on innovative technologies for monitoring the climate and the atmosphere, satellite validation, high altitude medicine, and early identification of natural hazards. The UFS has the status of a global station within the Global Atmosphere Watch Programme of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It is in adition part of the NDACC program and linked with the ICSU World Data Center for Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere (WDC-RSAT), hosted by DLR.

DLR’s German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD) monitors the upper mesosphere (ca. 80-90 kilometers altitude) with a ground-based infrarot spectrometer, GRIPS 3. One measurement goal is early identification of climate signals, for example for invistigating the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol. Other studies are concerned with fundamental issues such as analyzing small-scale flux systems to improve climate models, and with improving understanding of sun-earth interactions. This work is undertaken primarily in cooperation with Augsburg University’s Institute of Physics and the WMO.

In addition, GRIPS 3 is the prime instrument of the newly established global Network for the Detection of Mesopause Change, (NDMC), in which 52 institutions from 21 countries are involved and which DFD coordinates (see: --> ndmc) . In cooperation with the the company KayserThrede GmbH, GRIPS 3 is to be further developed into an industrial system also suitable for identifying tsunami, earthquakes and explosions. Toward this end, infrasonic signals are analyzed. DFD is also coordinating the establishment of a national contact point for satellite validation at UFS. Together with medical staff from Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, it is coordinating the establishment of a satellite-based system to study respiratory tract health hazards connected with climate change. In addition, DFD is in charge of preparatory work to create a European association of observatories to monitor the climate and the atmosphere within the EU’s framework research program, in cooperation with UFS partners.

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