Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download

Forschungszentrum Jülich - Annual Report 2011

Jülich scientists play an important role in climate research with their measurement flights on the Zeppelin NT. 2011 was a year of intensive preparations for a measurement campaign across numerous European countries as part of the pan-European project PEGASOS. On a Mission for Climate Research S lowly at a low altitude, the Zep- pelin NT floats through the air – compared to modern research aircraft, quite lazily. And that’s exactly what makes this airship attrac- tive. By no means a vintage scientif- ic aircraft, it’s kitted out with state-of- the-art measuring technology to serve the needs of climate research, measur- ing substances in the atmosphere with a high precision and spatial selectivity in the atmospheric layers near the surface of the Earth. Numerous chemical processes occur in the lowest atmospheric layers at an al- titude of up to 1,000 metres that are par- ticularly important for air quality and the climate. These include the circulation of a substance known as the OH radical, which is also referred to as the “deter- gent of the atmosphere” because it helps to break down pollutants. The Zeppelin flights aim to clarify how this detergent is recycled in the atmosphere. Aerosols in these atmospheric layers also give rise to a number of questions: Where do they come from? How do they combine to form larger particles? How do they im- pact on climate and air quality? In order to answer such questions, Jülich climatologists have optimized three different sets of measuring equip- ment to gain information on the OH rad- icals, aerosols and trace substances activated by solar radiation. The instru- ments were tested in November 2011 in flights above Lake Constance in the run-up to the largest scientific cam- paign of the Zeppelin NT to date. In May 2012, the airship set off on its first se- ries of flight missions, each lasting sev- eral weeks and all coordinated by scien- tists at Jülich. The campaign is part of the Pan-European Gas-Aerosols-Cli- mate Interaction Study (PEGASOS for short), which is being funded within the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme. In this project, twenty-six partners and fifteen European countries are investi- gating relationships between atmos- pheric chemistry and climate change. The Zeppelin flights will be monitored by an international team of fifteen re- searchers and will study the atmos- phere over the Netherlands, Italy, the Mediterranean and finally Finland in 2013. The routes have been coordinat- ed with existing measuring stations in these countries in order to allow the da- ta from both air and ground measure- ments to be directly compared. The PEGASOS project aims to identi- fy the decisive processes in the atmos- phere and to provide a scientific basis for European climate protection meas- ures. Global climate policy will also ben- efit from the study as the majority of project partners are also involved in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Forschungszentrum Jülich | Annual Report 2011 “The European large-scale project PEGA- SOS and the research flights with the Zeppelin NT make an important contribu- tion to climate protection and modern sustainability research,” said Prof. An- nette Schavan, Federal Minister for Edu- cation and Research, at the official launch of the Zeppelin campaign. “PEGA- SOS is a particularly impressive example of successful cooperation in European research policy.” 20 Blog Dossier A research airship