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Institute of Energy and Climate Research

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IEK-7 studies chemical, microphysical and dynamic processes in the atmosphere and the role they play in climate change. The institute focuses on the tropopause region (5 to 15 km), because this is where changes in greenhouse gases, aerosols and clouds have a particularly strong effect on the radiative forcing of the atmosphere.

In order to increase the prognostic value of chemistry-climate models (on the timescale of decades), IEK-7 conducts research on small-scale processes globally (waves, clouds, exchange processes), as a lack of understanding of these processes currently limit the prognostic capability of global and regional models. For these studies, novel measuring equipment for research aircraft and research balloons will be developed and deployed in international measuring campaigns in the Arctic, in the mid-latitudes, or in the tropics (e.g. on the German research aircraft HALO). IEK-7 also uses global satellite data and contributes to the development of new satellite missions (e.g. AtmoSat). All measured data are interpreted in combination with computer simulations of the earth’s atmosphere (e.g. with the CLaMS atmosphere model developed at IEK-7). In the future, studies on the impact of the energy industry (e.g. emission of greenhouse gases) on the composition of the upper troposphere and stratosphere will be intensified in order to create synergies with energy research.

Processes in the upper troposphere and stratosphere

Upper Troposphere and Stratosphere in the Climate System

The upper troposphere and stratosphere (UTS for short) is an important factor in the climate system. Particularly in the tropopause, even minor changes in components relevant for radiation, such as water, ozone, and cirrus clouds, cause significant changes in radiative forcing. more: Upper Troposphere and Stratosphere in the Climate System …

Arctic ozone depletion on 2 February 2010 at an altitude of approx. 20 kilometres (in ppmv)

Ozone-Climate Interactions

The ozone layer in the stratosphere protects the earth from harmful UV radiation. It is also an important factor determining the temperature distribution in the atmosphere. For this reason, changes of the ozone layer have an impact both on health/biology and on climate. At the same time, global change alters the temperature distribution and the concentration of trace substances in the stratosphere, causing feedback on ozone. The task of producing reliable forecasts of ozone depletion in the context of climate change therefore constitutes a challenge. more: Ozone-Climate Interactions …

Impact of the wave dynamics on circulation of the middle atmosphere

Atmospheric Coupling Processes

Dynamics and transport are essential aspects for understanding the distribution of trace substances in the atmosphere of relevance for climate and atmospheric chemistry. In a globally changing world, atmospheric dynamics also undergoes changes – which in turn causes a feedback effect on the distribution of trace substances. Examples being studied at the moment are changes in the Brewer-Dobson circulation, and the effect of gravity waves on the middle atmosphere. more: Atmospheric Coupling Processes …