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Space | 21. September 2021 | posted by Celia Baumhoer

Aerial campaign on the Aletsch Glacier

DLR-Wissenschaftler auf dem Weg über den Gletscher zur Konkordiahütte
Copyright: © DLR/Celia Baumhoer
The path across the glacier to the Konkordia Hut

Only superlatives can properly describe the sheer magnitude of the Aletsch Glacier. Measuring over 22 kilometres in length and with a thickness of up to 900 metres, it is the largest glacier in the Alps, accounting for one fifth of Switzerland's total ice mass. But climate change is obviously leaving its mark on the Aletsch Glacier as well. How has the snow cover changed in the Jungfrau-Aletsch region over recent decades? How much mass is the glacier losing each year? At the start of September 2021, a DLR team from the Polar Monitor Project embarked on a two-week mission to seek answers to these and other questions using high-resolution aerial images and a variety of satellite sensors. read more

Aeronautics | 01. September 2021 | posted by Bernd Kärcher

Soot in aircraft exhaust and the climate impact of air traffic

Kondensstreifen am Himmel
Credit:DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
Aircraft engines emit soot particles that act as 'condensation nuclei'. Small cold water droplets immediately condense and freeze into minute ice crystals, becoming visible as contrails in the sky.

Aircraft emissions are associated with all sorts of environmental problems. Researchers have long been studying the different kinds of emissions in order to understand how air transport is altering the composition of the atmosphere, cloud cover and the climate. Aircraft contrails are anthropogenic clouds of ice. My work in the 1990s showed that the physical properties of the white wispy trails aircraft trace across the sky are best explained by their soot emissions – black carbon particles and condensable substances like sulphuric acid produced during the combustion of fossil fuels such as kerosene. read more

Aeronautics | 08. June 2021 | posted by Florian Wozny

Climate-neutral flight through carbon dioxide offsets – an interim solution

Flugzeug am Himmel
Credit: DLR/Alejandro Morellon (CC-BY 3.0)
More environmentally friendly air transport of the future – interim goal of climate-neutral flight

Since 2021, airlines have had to offset emissions on international flights that exceed the average values for 2019. This is done with the help of carbon dioxide compensation projects that invest in renewable energy sources or the preservation of forests, for example – that is, reduce or store greenhouse gas emissions. Credits are then issued for these projects. However, the climate impact of the credits depends strongly on the underlying project types. In a new DLR discussion paper, my team and I show the limits of mandatory offsetting.

Rising fuel prices have already led to airlines investing in technological advancements, as fuel accounts for approximately one third of total operating costs. For example, engines and combustion processes have been improved over the years. Fuel consumption is falling by about two percent per year. However, the environmental benefits have been offset by the enormous increase in air traffic. Policy-makers are faced with a dilemma. read more

Aeronautics | 01. September 2016 | posted by Fabian Locher | 3 Comments

A day in the tropical sky

Flugplatz Togo
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
The apron of the hangar – the Falcon is ready for more measurements

It is the middle of the night on the coast of West Africa. A team of sleepy aircraft technicians and atmospheric researchers exit the hotel lobby. The humidity hits them like a brick wall – it is already 25 degrees Celsius outside. Their departure for Gnassingbé Eyadéma Airport is scheduled at four AM sharp. The first motorcycles of the day thunder past the walls of the hotel complex. Today’s take-off is set for 09:30. But the chauffeurs are late – again.

At 04:30, two cars drive up along the beach promenade through the still quiet streets of Lomé, the capital city of Togo.

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
En route to the hangar via Boulevard Du Mono.

Twenty minutes later, the group reaches their destination – a small hangar next to the international airport. Waiting for them, ready for use, is the Falcon 20E , a very reliable member of DLR’s fleet of research aircraft. read more

Aeronautics | 29. May 2015

WindVal: Petta reddast

Betanken der Falcon vor dem Start
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Falcon ready for the jet stream flight, in the background is the NASA DC-8

In Iceland you hear one phrase very often: 'petta reddast', which can be translated as "it will all work out okay". With that in mind, we started planning the flight to have a closer look at strong changes in the horizontal and vertical gradients of the wind speeds in the atmosphere, which is one of the key objectives of the ADM-Aeolus WindVal campaign.

When operating from Iceland, the ideal target region for such an endeavour is in or near a jet stream (fast flowing current in the atmosphere with a meandering shape) over the North Atlantic that is within range of the aircraft. The situation on Friday 15 May 2015 offered a great opportunity to address this aim and coordinate with the NASA DC-8 to observe strong jet stream winds. We have total of four wind lidar systems on the two aircraft, the DC-8 and DLR’s Falcon. read more

Aeronautics | 21. May 2015

ARCTIC15 Field Campaign

Forschungskampagne in Grönland
Credit: Silvan Leinss
The other, more beautiful side of field work. -22 degrees Celsius without wind on a sunny day can feel quite warm and comfortable. Perfect working conditions!

ARCTIC15 is a campaign promoted by the Microwaves and Radar Institute of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), carried out in cooperation with ETH Zurich and with the support of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). It takes place in Greenland from mid-April to the end of May 2015 with the objective of collecting polarimetric-interferometric SAR data at different frequencies (X-, C-, S-, L- and P-band) over different facies of the ice sheet. The measurements are performed using DLR's airborne F-SAR sensor. In total, the activities involve five test sites and include the collection of ground measurements, like ground penetrating radar (GPR) profiles and snow and firn stratigraphy, as well as the installation of GPS stations and corner reflectors for the calibration of the SAR acquisitions. read more