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Institute of Energy and Climate Research

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Water Vapour and Clouds

The radiative budget of the Earth is particularly sensitive to changes in the amout of water vapor and the cloud cover in the tropopause. In this altitude region, the exchange of water vapor between troposphere and stratosphere takes place and also cirrus clouds, consisting of ice crystals, are predominant. Since water vapor and cirrus influence the radiative balance of the atmosphere, the water vapor transport and exchange processes as well as the process of cirrus ice particle formation is currently being explored. New findings are obtained by national and international airborne field campaigns and laboratory experiments at the cloud chamber AIDA. During the campaigns, e.g. the ice water content of the cirrus and the humidity of the air is measured with the hygrometers FISH and HAI (in cooperation with PTB Braunschweig). The number and size of the ice crystals are recorded by the cloud spectrometer NIXE-CAPS. Simoultaneously, cirrus clouds can be detected with the portable Lidar instrument CORAL, during actual campaigns or on a longer term basis e.g. over Jülich. For a better interpretation of the observations, simulations are performed using the detailed spectral microphysical model MAID as well as the large-scale Lagrangian model CLaMS-Ice (in cooperation with the 'Theory' group).

The work programme "Water Vapour and Clouds" includes:

  • Developing high-resolution hygrometers for in situ measurements in the stratosphere and upper troposphere
  • Characterization and quality assurance of hygrometers and cloud spectrometers in the laboratory
  • Planning, coordinating and performing measurements, usually in international cooperations using aircraft
  • Evaluating and scientifically analysing the measured data and publishing them

Our team:

supported by the technical staff and engineers of IEK-7: