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EOS Network: Integrated Earth Observation System

The continued growth of world population, which is accompanied by an intensified exploitation of our planet and its resources, and the increasing susceptibility of society to natural hazards call for sustained and internationally coordinated action to preserve the earth as a habitat. The earth is a dynamic planet subject to constant change caused by a variety of endogenous and exogenous forces and processes. It is characterized by feedback interactions and exchanges between the geosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, all of which take place on different spatio-temporal scales. In order to understand our habitat – from our regional environment to Planet Earth as a whole – it is necessary to look at the earth as a system and to analyse how it works on a global as well as on a regional scale. It is also necessary to evaluate the effects of human activity and interference with the natural equilibria and processes of this highly complex non-linear system.


 EOS brochure (PDF, 3 MB)

Research topic 5: changes in the chemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere

Topic 5 (changes in the chemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere) is coordinated by IEK-7.

Coordinator: Prof. Martin Riese, Forschungszentrum Jülich (IEK-7)

Participating centres and institutes:

  • Prof. Andreas Wahner (Forschungszentrum Jülich, IEK-8)
  • Prof. Johannes Orphal (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research)
  • PD Dr. Michael Bittner (German Aerospace Centre, German Remote Sensing Data Center [DFD])
  • Prof. Ulrich Schumann (German Aerospace Centre, Institute of Atmospheric Physics )
  • Prof. Thomas Trautmann (German Aerospace Centre, Remote Sensing Technology Institute)
  • Dr. Jens Wickert (German Research Centre for Geosciences [GFZ] Potsdam)

Global change is currently endangering the basis of human livelihoods and the opportunities of development for future generations. Anthropogenic greenhouse gases are the most important cause of rapid climate change (decades) and changes in the weather. The understanding and quantitative prediction of these changes is one of the central challenges for society in the 21st century. Strategies for slowing down climate change and for adapting to this change must be developed on the basis of a detailed scientific understanding of the system of the earth and its subsystems: the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and cryosphere.

The quality of these urgently required climate predictions mainly depends on an understanding of the interactions in the system of the earth and also on the detailed consideration of climatically relevant processes in its subsystems. In the field of atmospheric research, there is at present considerable need for further research, above all into the altitude region of the upper troposphere and the lower stratosphere (UTLS), which plays a special part in the climate system. This is where changes in the concentrations of trace gases and aerosols and also in the degree of cloud cover have the greatest influence on anthropogenic radiative forcing, which triggers climate change.

In order to increase the predictive value of climate models there is an urgent need for an improved data basis concerning the structure and composition of the atmosphere in the region of the UTLS and also on sources of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Our knowledge of the transport paths and the chemical conversion processes for pollutants in the UTLS also requires considerable improvement. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly apparent that dynamic couplings of various layers of the atmosphere up to an altitude of approx. 100 km must be taken into consideration in order to obtain, amongst other aspects, a complete picture of the UTLS region. Dynamic couplings probably also play a major part in climate-weather interactions (via the influence of weather oscillations such as El Niño/Southern Oscillation [ENSO] or the North Atlantic Oscillation [NAO]).