Research

Current Projects

Influence of air quality on the expected burden on the health care system in the event of pandemics

The new project „Influence of air quality on the expected burden on the health care system in the event of pandemics“, funded by the German Research Association , DFG, is using the Bioclimatic Information System, BioCliS, - a service of VAO-AlpEnDAC.
The three-year project will start in autumn 2021. The main objective is to better understand the effect of low air quality on the human health vulnerability against pandemics, influence and cardiovascular diseases. Project partners are the University Augsburg, Germany; Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Germany; German Aerospace Center, Cologne and Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Contact: PD Dr. Sabine Wüst.

Detektor misst die kosmische Strahlung auf der Zugspitze

Measurement hut at the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus, Image 1/3, Credit: © Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus / Till Rehm)></p>
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Measurement hut at the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus
Image 1/3, Credit: © Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus / Till Rehm

Timepix3 was developed to detect elementary particles at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). It was then carried up to the International Space Station (ISS), where it measures the radiation dose to which astronauts and equipment are exposed. Most recently, Timepix3 has been used on the Zugspitze. Its task is to simultaneously detect the secondary cosmic rays and radon decay products. This radioactive noble gas occurs naturally in rocks and eventually reaches the surface. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) installed the Timepix3 at the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus in cooperation with the universities of Augsburg and Prague.

More information

Stakeholders for the new ESA project AlpAirEO

This is to inform you that as an outcome of the VAO-Symposium in Grenoble where we had planning sessions for different topics in order to prepare proposals to be submitted to ESA, the project AlpAirEO is now granted by the European Space Agency with two years funding to develop a service to promote Air Quality and Health in the Alpine Region in the context of the initiative "EO science for Society".

Scope of the project is to use remote sensing state-of-the-art technology to deliver innovative science and information services to support expert and non-expert stakeholders and, thereby, help to improve the general quality of life in the Alps. This will be done by the enhancement of the already existing interactive IT platform BioClis, hosted on VAO-AlpEnDAC, capable of providing information of the current status and forecast of air quality and the associated increased health risk at local level.

Further info

For this reason, in the coming weeks, the project team is planning for organizing a webinar, with the purpose to present their project and to assess the needs especially of the (health) community in the alpine area. If you are interested in the topic and in the webinar, please send an Email to Lorenza.gilardi@dlr.de.”

Variability of the Brunt–Väisälä frequency at the OH∗-airglow layer height at low and midlatitudes
Airglow spectrometers, as they are operated within the Network for the Detection of Mesospheric Change (NDMC; https://ndmc.dlr.de, last access: 1 November 2020), for example, allow the derivation of rotational temperatures which are equivalent to the kinetic temperature, local thermodynamic equilibrium provided. Temperature variations at the height of the airglow layer are, amongst others, caused by gravity waves. However, airglow spectrometers do not deliver vertically resolved temperature information. This is an obstacle for the calculation of the density of gravity wave potential energy from these measurements.
https://amt.copernicus.org/articles/13/6067/2020/
NO2 in the Alps as observed by Sentinel-5p/TROPOMI - Mean from January to June 2019

The new satellite Sentinel-5P reveals detailed insights into the Alpine environment: with a spatial resolution of 3.5 to 5.5 km, its instrument TROPOMI has unprecedented capabilities for daily global air pollution monitoring. To derive this mean distribution of tropospheric NO2 from January to June 2019, data from more than 400 satellite overpasses have been merged. The NO2 is depicted in tropospheric vertical column densities in [mol/m2]. It results from anthropogenic combustion processes. Due to its short lifetime it is bound to its emission sources.

The Alpine region is the living environment for nearly 14 million people and the destination for approximately 120 million tourists each year. Like nowhere else in Europe, urban agglomerations, settlements, industry and traffic are predominantly concentrated and competing in valleys. This hinders ventilation, and causes a congestion of air pollutants and increased health risks. By contrast the elevated regions are characterised by clean air. Increased pollution levels can be found in the highly populated Po Valley and the Greater Munich Area. Among the Alpine valleys sticking out, are the Brenner with Bozen, the Inn Valley with Innsbruck and the Rhone Valley with Genève and Marseille.

NO2 in the Alps observed by Sentinel-5P

Surf Zone at the Border to Outer Space: Where Gravity Waves break
Waves not only influence the dynamics of water in the ocean but also of air in the atmosphere. So-called gravity waves are to be found especially in the upper mesosphere / lower thermosphere at about 80 to 100 kilometres altitude.

more Informations

Key topics of the VAO are: (i) Atmospheric and climatic variability, (ii) Climate impact on Alpine environment, hazards and risks, (iii) Alpine water cycle and (iv) Environment and human health. In another field, work has driven the further development of infrastructure and the development of new technologies for climate and environmental research.

Atmospheric and climatic variability

The atmosphere is a complex system. It is characterised by a multitude of chemical, dynamic and radiation-related processes. Our knowledge of these processes is still incomplete. Forecasts on climate development are therefore still relatively unreliable. Improved measurement and analysis techniques will help to close this gap.

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2018)

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2020)

Climate impact on Alpine environment, hazards and risks

The impact of climate change on the biosphere and geosphere in high altitude areas is to be determined. Moreover, an investigation is carried out on the influence of solar eruptions on cosmic radiation in the Alpine region.

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2018)

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2020)

Alpine water cycle

The aim of this key topic is to acquire more expertise on the Alpine water balance in order to be able to estimate the future availability of water. Another priority is to study environmental radioactivity in the Alpine region, caused by snow and rainfall.

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2018)

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2020)

Environment and human health

Persistent hazardous substances, particles or pollen, and also meteorological parameters such as temperature or humidity, can have a negative impact on human health in Alpine regions. They can, for instance, lead to allergies, respiratory diseases or cardiovascular diseases. Long-term studies, analyses, studies and recommendations for appropriate action are therefore of paramount importance.

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2018)

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2020)

Improving the infrastructure

Environmental sciences, particularly research at high altitudes, require very specific technological solutions. That is why development focuses on new sensor technologies or measuring platforms (e.g. UAVs etc.), hardware and software infrastructures, efficient concepts for (meta) data storage, analysis and visualisation etc.

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2018)

Selected research projects (presented on the VAO Symposium 2020)

Key research topics:

  • Atmospheric and climatic variability
  • Climate impact on Alpine environment, hazards and risks
  • Alpine water cycle
  • Environment and human health
  • Improving the infrastructure