Official Opening of Palau Atmospheric Observatory
Today the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the Institute for Environmental Physics of the University Bremen officially open their Palau Atmospheric Observatory at the Campus of the Palau Community College (PCC). The new observatory is part of the European climate research project StratoClim, a consortium of 28 European research organisations led by AWI, and is operated in close collaboration with the PCC.
Recent atmospheric research has shown the particular importance from the upper troposphere and stratosphere (UTS) for the Earth’s climate. The UTS is located above about 16 kilometres height. Scientists found out, that the main transport of air into the stratosphere occurs above the tropical West Pacific warm pool. But this area constitutes a gap in existing observational networks and information on atmospheric composition from this region is very limited. Complicated interactions between chemical processes, aerosol and cloud formation in this region substantially change the composition of the air during its rise. Air masses, which once have arrived in the UTS spread from the ascent area to all over the globe. Therefore they determine the atmospheric composition also in Europe and the Arctic.
Palau is located in the centre of the restricted ascent area. “The new observatory allows us to study on-site the processes, which determine the UTS’s composition on a global scale”, describes StratoClim leader Dr Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute the choice of the site. “Measurements conducted at the new Atmospheric Observatory are of highest relevance for better understanding the climate of our planet and fill a key gap in the existing observational network”, Rex adds. The measurements will be complemented by an educational program at PCC consisting of a series of lectures on climate issues by internationally recognized climate scientists from the StratoClim consortium.