University of Bremen: University involved in important climate program

Many important players in German atmospheric research work together in ACTRIS-D – including universities, non-university research institutions and authorities. The German part of the European research infrastructure is coordinated by the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) in Leipzig. The University of Bremen is involved in the central ACTRIS service facility CREGARS and will operate three research stations. It participates in the ACTRIS program with two types of measurements: On the one hand, with its measuring stations in Bremen, Paramaribo / Surinam and Ny Alesund / Spitzbergen, where, with the help of solar absorption spectroscopy, the trace gas concentrations of a large number of substances in the entire atmosphere from the ground to the upper edge captured the atmosphere.

The goal is better data on short-lived atmospheric components
The aim of the new ACTRIS research infrastructure – the abbreviation stands for Aerosol, Clouds and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure, i.e. a research infrastructure for aerosols (fine dust particles), clouds and trace gases – is to provide data on the short-lived atmospheric components of the atmosphere from the ground to the stratosphere . This should help to reduce the uncertainties in predicting the future climate, to improve knowledge about climate feedback mechanisms and to evaluate measures to improve air quality and its effects on health and ecosystems.

ACTRIS is the fundamental European research infrastructure for short-lived atmospheric components, which expands Earth system observation and research and provides society with the knowledge to develop sustainable solutions. These components of the atmosphere have a major impact on air quality and the climate. The short-lived climate drivers are usually only a few hours to weeks in the atmosphere – in contrast to the long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which remain in the atmosphere for many years to decades. Therefore, much more is known about the effect of long-lived greenhouse gases than about the short-lived components, although these also have a significant impact on the climate.

Short-lived climate drivers have very different effects
For example, tiny suspended particles reflect sunlight and thermal radiation or serve as nuclei for the formation of cloud droplets and ice crystals, which influences the formation of precipitation. Through land use, traffic and energy generation, humans influence the short-lived climate drivers, which can have very different effects: for example, soot particles contribute to warming, while sulphate and nitrate particles have a cooling effect. It is clear that all of these factors have an impact on the climate and must be taken into account in the forecasts. How big the sometimes very different effects ultimately are is not yet known well enough.

In addition to the effects on the climate, short-lived components of the atmosphere also have a strong influence on air quality and thus on human health. Suspended particles, colloquially called fine dust, and short-lived trace gases such as nitrogen oxides lead to diseases of the respiratory tract and reduce life expectancy due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

However, the effects of human activities on the atmosphere, from individual cars to huge forest fires, can only be estimated if measurements are taken continuously and over a large area at many points, because the atmosphere knows no national borders. This is why the pan-European ACTRIS initiative was added to the European roadmap for research infrastructures in 2016. From 2022, ACTRIS is to start its long-term work in the legal form of an ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium).

Over 75 million euros in funding for ACTRIS-D
With the inclusion of the German contribution ACTRIS-D on the National Roadmap for Research Infrastructures, Germany committed itself to cooperation in the European research infrastructure in 2019. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding this initiative as part of the “Research for Sustainability” (FONA) strategy. It has now started funding the development of ACTRIS-D with an initial total of around 75 million euros Over the next five years, numerous fixed and mobile measuring stations as well as laboratories and simulation chambers will be expanded or newly built. A second funding phase for the complete development of ACTRIS-D with funding of around 11 million euros is planned for the period 2026 to 2029. In addition, the Federal Ministry for Environment,

More than 100 research institutions involved
Across Europe, well over 100 research institutions from 22 countries participate in ACTRIS. They have spanned a network of more than 70 observatories across Europe, which is supplemented by stations in the polar regions, the tropics and Asia. There are also 18 simulation chambers and laboratories in Europe, in which processes in the atmosphere are simulated in experiments, as well as 17 mobile measuring platforms that can be used at different locations. ACTRIS is intended to offer a broad user community effective access to its data, resources and services in order to enable high-quality earth system research. Free and open access will not only benefit Europe as a technology and science location,

The research institutions involved in ACTRIS are:
Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), Leipzig, in charge
Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) – Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research
University of Wuppertal (BUW)
German Weather Service (DWD), Offenbach
Research Center Jülich GmbH (FZJ)
Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (LMU)
Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Dessau
University of Bremen
University of Cologne