Press release

From the mountains to the coast – The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research based in Bremerhaven inherits the World Radiation Monitoring Center, Switzerland

[03. July 2008] 

The international archive for radiation data, the World Radiation Monitoring Center (WRMC), provides climate research with high-precision meteorological series of measurements. After a term of fifteen years at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association ensures the successful continuity and enhancements of this unique archive. These data serve the monitoring of the climate, the surveillance of anthropological influence on the earth's surface as well as the improvement of climate forecasts.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) dealt with the compilation of contemporary knowledge on climate research for the first time at the end of the eighties. It was discovered, among other things, that baseline energy conversion of solar radiation as well as thermal radiation of the earth's surface and the clouds were not sufficiently known. A global Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) was demanded to correct this shortcoming. The demands for accuracy concerning these monitoring stations were very high, so that only ten stations worldwide participated in the beginning. Among these were the observatories at the Neumayer Station in the Antarctic as well as  the Koldewey Station on Spitsbergen in the Arctic, both run by the Alfred Wegener Institute. In the meantime, 43 monitoring stations worldwide are entering their data into the network.

The core of the World Radiation Monitoring Center (WRMC) is its central data archive. It was developed at the ETHZ under the direction of Prof. Ohmura in 1992 and contains all accompanying meteorological observations, which are necessary for the interpretation of the radiation measurements, available at minute intervals. Among these are vertical profiles of air temperature and humidity gained by means of weather balloons, observations of clouds and cloud heights.

Surface radiation – which influences the climate decisively – is estimated area-wide by means of satellites. Accuracy is improved by comparison with direct  measurements of the World Radiation Monitoring Center.

Climate models rely on procedures which provide baseline radiation, too. These computations of radiation are verified and optimized with the data provided by the World Radiation Monitoring Center. Furthermore, trend analyses are possible by means of these measurements, since some stations have been measuring continually for fifteen years. First results currently point to a slight increase of radiation originating from the sun, most probably as a result of improved politics of air pollution control.

The archive will be officially opened by Dr. Gert König-Langlo, meteorologist and director of the WMRC at the Alfred Wegener Institute in the framework of the 10th BSRN workshop from July 7th to 11th in De Bilt, the Netherlands. You can find further information under:

www.bsrn.awi.de



Notes for Editors: 

Your contact person at the Alfred Wegener Institute is Dr Gert König-Langlo (phone: +49 471 4831-1806, email: Gert.Koenig-Langlo@awi.de). Your contact person in the public relations department is Dr Ude Cieluch (phone: +49/471/4831-2008; email: Ude.Cieluch@awi.de).

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Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.