link to homepage

Institute of Energy and Climate Research

Navigation and service


Airship measures cleansing power of atmosphere

The investigation of the distribution of trace gases in the lowest part of our atmosphere, the planetary boundary layer (PBL), has been proven a difficult task since the access to this shallow layer of air with (a) a complex suite of instruments including radical measurements and (b) flight characteristics which allow for slow motion and coverage of vertical profiles descending to heights close to ground was not possible due to missing airborne platforms. Now Jülich scientists make use of the airship ZEPPELIN NT which has unique properties: it can slowly hover and even stop in an air mass, can make vertical ascents and descents,  can fly up to 24 h, and transport heavy instrumentation of up to 1000 kg. For the first time it is now possible to investigate the vertical distribution of trace gases, aerosols, and radicals in detail in the PBL (from 70 m to 1000 m above ground) which is the chemically most active region of our atmosphere.  Most pollutants emitted from the earth’s surface are transformed and finally removed within this layer. Accurate information about its composition is essential in order to better understand the underlying processes and to validate models.

Zeppelin NTZeppelin NT

For the first time the airship ZEPPELIN NT is deployed as a measurement platform by Jülich scientists during the field campaign ZEPTER-1 (ZEPpelin based Tropospheric chemistry ExpeRiment) in southern Germany in July 2007. The airship is equipped with a suite of instruments to measure the distribution of different trace gases, aerosols and short-lived radicals in the planetary boundary layer together with radiation fluxes and different meteorological parameters. Some of the instruments are mounted on a platform on top of the airship to allow for an undisturbed sampling of air. This is particular important for the measurement of the highly reactive hydroxyl radicals (OH) which are the detergent of the atmosphere. The decomposition of almost all pollutants is initiated by a reaction with OH. During the first five days of ZEPTER-1 the airship is deployed at its home base Friedrichshafen mainly flying vertical profiles over Lake Constance. Thereafter the airship will be transferred to the operation base of the international measurement campaign COPS (Convective and Orographically-induced Precipitation Study) at airport Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden. From that location the airship will fly a number of tracks into the Murg and Kinzig valley in the Black Forest, as well as vertical profiles over the Bienwald near Karlsruhe. These measurements are part of the project "Transporte und chemische Umsetzungen in konvektiven Systemen" (TRACKS) of the German Helmholtz Association. The Zeppelin measurements were made in collaboration with the Univ. Wuppertal, Univ. Heidelberg, and the Research Center Karlsruhe. The project was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Zeppelin NTDer Zeppelin NT nach ersten Messflügen der Jülicher Forscher über dem Bodensee: Statt Fluggästen transportiert er gut 500 kg Messgeräte in der Passagiergondel.
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich / ZLT

Zeppelin NTDer Zeppelin mit Messplattform beim Transport aus der Halle ("Aushallen")
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich / ZLT