GRIMM studies the climate factor clouds

International research project to enable better climate predictions


What role do clouds play in climate change? Since mid-January 2020, an international research team has been working on this question as part of the large-scale field study EUREC4A. The influence of aerosols is also researched - with technology from GRIMM, the aerosol specialist in the DURAG GROUP. 

More than 40 partners from nine countries are involved

The study is led by the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique in Paris. According to the Max Planck Institute, "EUREC4A aims at advancing understanding of the interplay between clouds, convection and circulation and their role in climate change." The research institute speaks of "the largest field campaign to study shallow clouds and their interplay with the atmosphere and ocean."1

More than 40 partners from nine countries are involved in EUREC4A. The measurement campaign, which started on the Caribbean island of Barbados, will last just under six weeks. The effort is enormous: the research inventory includes five aircraft and four research vessels as well as satellites, balloon kites and autonomous missiles.2

EDM 665 from GRIMM records large measuring range

One of the research vessels is the German METEOR. On board: An Opens external link in new windowEDM 665 Wide Range Aerosol Spectrometer from GRIMM. The EDM 665 records the particle count distribution from 5 nanometers to 32 micrometers. Once installed, the device operates autonomously for four weeks without the need for maintenance and sends the measured values online to the scientists. Essentially, the system consists of an air-conditioned, weather-protected outdoor housing and the internal measuring devices: a spectrometer Opens external link in new windowEDM 180 (for a particle size range from 0.25 to 32 micrometers), an Opens external link in new windowSMPS+C Model 5420 (for a particle size range from 5 to 350 nanometers) and a Opens external link in new windowCPC Model 5421 for verification of the measured data.

Responsible for the installation on site was Sebastian Steinau, Service Specialist of the GRIMM nano department. "After all devices were loaded onto the deck by container crane, the assembly of the hardware could begin. The commissioning proved to be quite adventurous due to sudden heavy rainfall, but was successfully completed late in the evening, so that a first test run could be carried out overnight. Already on the first day the system delivered plausible and very interesting measured values which could be traced back to the surrounding shipping and loading cranes", reports Sebastian Steinau.

Aerosol data are important for climate research

Not only the particles themselves play a role in the measured data of the EDM 665, but also weather data such as temperature, wind speed and air pressure which prevail during the measurement. "Together with the meteorological data, the EDM 665 provides highly interesting information on the physical properties of the aerosol. These data are of great importance for climate research, as they help to better understand cloud formation and transport processes in the atmosphere," explains Friedhelm Schneider, Product Manager at GRIMM.

How did the idea for a mammoth project like EUREC4A come about? To do this, one has to talk about climate models. There are complex models that predict that global warming, especially in the tropics, will cause fewer clouds to form in the future. Fewer clouds mean more heating of surfaces, which in turn increases climate change - this is the hypothesis. The catch is: there are other models that predict exactly the opposite. There is also great uncertainty about the extent of the expected feedback effects. The field study should therefore ultimately contribute to the development of robust climate models and thus enable more reliable climate predictions.2

The evaluation of all data will take years

In early March 2020, METEOR will arrive in the Azores; by then, the EDM 665 will have recorded a large amount of aerosol data. "The analysis of the measurement data is the responsibility of the customer, but we are available for consultation and are also very interested in the interpretation of the measured particle distribution," says Sebastian Steinau. According to the Max Planck Institute, it will take "a few years"2 until the data of all project participants have been evaluated.

References:

1 Max Planck Institute; Opens external link in new windowhttps://www.mpimet.mpg.de/en/communication/news/focus-on-overview/eurec4a-an-international-field-study-to-test-hypothesized-cloud-controlling-factors-influencing-weather-and-climate/

2 Max Planck Institute; Opens external link in new windowhttps://www.mpg.de/14382294/clouds-from-every-angle


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