IEK-7 research focuses on composition and dynamics of the upper troposphere and middle atmosphere (5 to 90 km). This altitude region and the physical and chemical processes therein play a key role in the climate system. Changes in the structure and chemical composition of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) result in particularly large changes in the radiative forcing of the atmosphere, which triggers climate change.
In spite of its immense significance, the UTLS region is one of the least understood regions of the atmosphere. This is due its great dynamical, microphysical and chemical complexity. Furthermore, there is growing evidence that the stratosphere influences near-surface regional climate and long-term weather via dynamical coupling with the troposphere. Variations of the strength of the polar jet, influenced by wave dynamics, play an important role in this context. IEK-7 has a particular expertise in investigating the underlying mesoscale processes and their occurrence and role on the global scale (e.g., exchange processes, atmospheric waves, clouds). The scientific analyses are based on the synergetic use of airborne instruments (e.g. HALO, M55-Geophysica), satellite observations and process-oriented atmospheric models (e.g. CLaMS) as well as Earth System Models (ESM). The research unit also plays a leading role in the development of new-generation satellite instrumentation (e.g. AtmoSat).