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Flying Labs and Giant Simulation Chambers

Humans are changing the environment. Emissions from energy production, industry, and transport, as well as from agriculture and biogas combustion, pollute the air and contaminate the atmosphere.

As a result, the composition of the atmosphere is changing and climate changes are threatening the earth's ecosystems. The basis of life of future generations in industrialized and developing countries is adversely affected, with economic consequences likely as well.

In order to more precisely predict the climatic impacts brought about by human actions and refine existing climate models, it is necessary to understand the complex chemical interactions in the atmosphere even better.

To this end, in-depth observations and measurements are needed at various altitude ranges of the atmosphere, the research area of scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich's Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK).

Measuring Instruments for Performing Studies at Various Altitudes

In order to obtain the data needed for their research, scientists use various flying platforms with highly sensitive measuring instruments developed in Jülich for gaseous, liquid, and solid air components. While a Zeppelin NT permits the study of the lowest troposphere via emission sources near the ground, the new German long-distance research aircraft HALO collects data for studies of the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere. In the upper stratosphere, high-altitude-research aircraft such as the Geophysica and specific balloons are used, for instance, to investigate the ozone layer.

The researchers intend to gain further insight by means of data obtained through international scheduled flights. In this area, in cooperation with various international airlines, aircraft are fitted with sensors for long-term atmospheric observations (IAGOS, in-service aircraft for a global observing system).

Satellite Experiments

The European environmental satellite ENVISAT supplies global data, which are also evaluated at Forschungszentrum Jülich. With a consortium of European scientists and the European Space Agency (ESA), IEK is preparing new satellite missions for the future (PREMIER).

SAPHIR Atmosphere Simulation Chamber

Scientists are investigating chemical processes for near-ground conditions in the 370 cubic metre SAPHIR atmosphere simulation chamber at the Jülich campus. Especially complex atmospheric and chemical situations are reconstructed under reproducible conditions and are analysed with sensitive measuring instruments.

Innenansicht der Jülicher Atmosphärenkammer SAPHIRInnenansicht der Jülicher Atmosphärenkammer SAPHIR
Source: Forschungszentrum Jülich