Atmospheric Trace Species

Head of the department: Dr. Hans Schlager

Trace gases and aerosols play a key role in atmospheric physics and chemistry via homogeneous and heterogeneous chemical reactions, phase transitions, and interaction with radiation. The department investigates the distribution of trace species in the troposphere and lower stratosphere and the processes involved (natural and anthropogenic emissions, transport, chemistry, aerosol composition and physics).

The present research activities focus on:

  • the distribution and impact of emissions from air traffic and ground transportation,
  • trace gas transport by deep convection and production of nitrogen oxides in thunderclouds over Europe and in the tropics,
  • aerosol microphysics and aerosol-cloud-interaction in polluted and remote regions,
  • heterogeneous trace gas processes in the lower stratosphere (denitrification, composition of polar stratospheric clouds).

For this purpose in situ measurement systems are developed and used on board of different research aircraft (Falcon, Do228, Geophysica, Lufthansa Airbus 340-600), and at test facilities and ground stations. Trace gas measurement systems available include:

  • Chemiluminescence detectors for NOx and NOy
  • UV and IR absorption photometer for O3 and CO2,
  • Vacuum UV fluorescence detector for CO,
  • Frost point mirror for H2O,
  • Drop sondes for relative humidity, temperature, and wind,
  • Particle laser spectrometer probes (FSSP 300, FSSP 100, MASP, PCASP),
  • Absorption photometer for soot, condensation nuclei counter.

For special investigations and as support for the interpretation of the field data also models are developed and used.

Dr.rer.nat. Hans Schlager
German Aerospace Center

Institute of Atmospheric Physics
, Atmospheric trace gases
Tel: +49 8153 28-2510

Fax: +49 8153 28-1841

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In-situ instruments - trace gases (
Falcon (