As in the past 3 years, the (now already fourth) Symposium of the Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO) took place in the spring of this year, this time from 13 to 15 March 2018 on the site of the French partner OSUG (Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de Grenoble) in Grenoble. In about 70 lectures and presentations the scientific and technological progress was presented to the approximately 100 participants. In addition, there were several splintermeetings on topics such as satellite validation or aerosols in order to initiate future joint, cross-border projects in this context.
The symposium was opened by Dr Michel Dietrich as representative of the OSUG. Key notes were given by Prof Eric Saint-Aman, Vice-president of the University of Grenoble, Mr. Pierre Meriaux, City Hall Grenoble, Dr Jiri Burianek, Secretary-General of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Prof Michael Rast, Director of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Christian Barth, Administrative Chief of the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection. All emphasized the importance of the VAO as a scientific institution for the study of climate change and its consequences across national borders.
Mountain regions are particularly predestined for such investigations. Bavaria has been supporting the VAO for several years. ESA is recently Observer of the VAO. The CoR also backed the VAO. An intensive cooperation is already planned.
The "Virtual Alpine Observatory" was founded in 2012 as a network of European high-altitude research stations in the Alps and similar montane regions. Observatories from eight countries are now represented in the network. Besides Germany, these are France, Georgia, Italy, Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia; Institutions from other countries, eg. Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland have expressed interest. Scientific questions on the atmosphere, biosphere, hydro- and cryosphere and possible health effects of environmental influences can be answered through the cross-border and interdisciplinary bundling of forces in a substantive depth, which becomes possible only through this cooperation. Moreover, the VAO is also part of the European Alpine Convention, whose objectives it supports, and will in future also serve as an important instrument for adapting and implementing the European Alpine Strategy (EUSALP).more information
Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection
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More than 100 representatives from politics, business and research accepted the invitation of the Bavarian State Minister Ulrike Scharf and met on June 29, 2017 at the Bavarian Representation in Brussels. Theme of the event was "Climate change - Identify and act on risks". In addition to Ulrike Scharf, the Bavarian State Minister for Environment and Consumer Protection, key note speeches have also been given by Dr Andrea Tilche, European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation, Head of Unit Climate Action and Earth Observation, and Dr Jiří Buriánek, Secretary General of the Committee of the Regions. Dr Lützenkirchen, Siemens Munich and Mr. Schiansky, Siemens environmental insurance, were discussing the impact of climate change on industrial or commercial enterprises as well as their need for resilient climate data as a basis for developing necessary climate adaptation strategies. Both economic and political representatives have emphasized the need to address the urgent scientific and societal questions about global climate change with joint, cross-border research. Prof Dr Michael Bittner, Head of Department German Aerospace Center (DLR) German Remote Sensing Data Center Atmosphere Oberpfaffenhofen and Chairman of the VAO Board presented the strategy of the "Virtual Alps Observatory" (VAO) to the public for the very first time. The climate data delivered by VAO research can form the basis for political and economic decisions. The paper presents the strategic orientation of the VAO for the next 10 years and the most important upcoming VAO climate research topics.
Dr Hürkamp, Helmholtz Zentrum München, presented a specific VAO project from the practice: Scientists from UFS on the Zugspitze, ZAMG on the Sonnblick in Austria and HJGF on the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland are investigating the influence of climate change on the water balance.
All speakers from left to right: Moderator Silke Wettach, Dr Kerstin Hürkamp, Dr Andrea Tilche, Ulrike Scharf MdL, Dr Jiří Buriánek, Prof Dr Bittner, Dr Lützenkirchen and Martin SchianskyA
Prof Dr Bittner (on the right) hands over a VAO strategy paper (from the left to the right) to Dr Andrea Tilche, to Ulrike Scharf MdL and Dr Jiří Buriánek
Moderator Silke Wettach in discussion with the representatives from business and insurance, Dr Lützenkirchen and Martin Schiansky.