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The "Virtual Alpine Observatory" started on April 19, 2012. It is a group of research stations in the Alps and other mountains. 12 countries are part of it. These countries are Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Georgia, Italy, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. They work together across borders and in different study areas. They study the air, living things, water, and frozen water deeply. They also look at how the environment affects health.

Some research centers in the mountains have teamed up. They created the VAO. This includes centers in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Italy, and France. Some other centers are also with the VAO. They are from Norway, Georgia, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic. Two German centers help the VAO. The VAO wants more partners. It plans to grow.