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Water and its role in atmospheric processes

English title Water and its role in atmospheric processes
Applicant Kämpfer Niklaus
Number 115882
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für angewandte Physik Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Start/End 01.04.2007 - 31.03.2009
Approved amount 537'210.00
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Keywords (10)

Water vapour; climate change; stratosphere; mesosphere; troposphere; ozone; water vapor; remote sensing; atmosphere; climate

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Water in its different forms as vapor, liquid and ice plays a multiple role in atmospheric physics and chemistry and in the regulation of the Earth’s climate. Water vapor is by far the dominant form of atmospheric water; it is the most important natural greenhouse gas and provides the largest known feedback mechanism for climate change.
The research groups at the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP), University of Bern, developed several microwave radiometers in the past. These instruments allow determining the water vapor content of the atmosphere either by providing the columnar amount or the altitude-resolved profile. Instruments are operated from the ground, from airplane and - in the past - also from the Space Shuttle.
The scientific objectives that are addressed in this research project are aimed at understanding the significance of the variability in middle atmospheric H2O at mid-latitudes and in polar regions, to assess water vapor changes at northern latitudes over the last decade and to investigate the links between ozone and water vapor. A further topic is to compare data from our ground based instruments with satellite data and to participate in campaigns and validation experiments. Further insight into the atmospheric processes shall be obtained by combining our data with atmospheric models in cooperation with other research teams.
Water vapor profiles in the middle atmosphere (stratosphere and mesosphere) will be measured on a routine basis with a highly sensitive microwave receiver from the new observatory at Zimmerwald near Bern over the whole project period. Observations are performed within the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change, NDACC. Ozone profiles will be available from Bern and from Payerne. These observations allow investigating the temporal variability of middle atmospheric water vapor and ozone over many different time scales. The latitudinal variability of water vapor will be investigated by analyzing the data from our aircraft campaigns in cooperation with the Swiss Air Force that allowed us to fly one of our instruments on a Lear jet for campaigns to the tropics and to polar regions in recent years. These data shall be complemented with data obtained within a joint project with the Sookmyung Women‘s University in Seoul, South Korea, where we operate a new water vapor instrument.
Research of water in the troposphere (0 - 15 km altitude) addresses different questions that are also linked to climate issues. During the next two years the program will continue to be focused on clouds and water vapor and on the development of an integrated tool to determine tropospheric profiles of relevant meteorological parameters.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
124387 WADI: Atmospheric Water vapour from the ground to the mesopause: Detection and Interpretation 01.04.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)
107665 Water Vapour and Related Species in the Atmosphere, WAPORES-A 01.04.2005 Project funding (Div. I-III)