GRIMM studies the climate factor clouds
International research project to enable better climate predictions
What is the importance of clouds climate change? Since beginning of 2020, an international team of researcher is working on this question as part of the large-scale study EUREC4A. The effect of aerosols is also investigated on - with high-tech instruments from GRIMM, the aerosol specialist within the DURAG GROUP.
More than 40 partners from nine countries are involved
The academic work is led by the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and the Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique in Paris. The Max Planck Institute says "EUREC4A aims at advancing understanding of the interplay between clouds, convection and circulation and their role in climate change." The research facility speaks of "the largest field campaign to study shallow clouds and their interplay with the atmosphere and ocean."1
Over 40 partners from nine countries are part of EUREC4A. The measurement campaign, which started on the Caribbean island of Barbados, will last just under six weeks. The effort taken is gigantic: the research inventory exists out of five airplanes and four research vessels together with satellites, balloon kites and autonomous missiles.2
GRIMM EDM 665 measures widest particles size ranges
One of the research ships is the German METEOR. On board: The EDM 665 Wide Range Aerosol Spectrometer. This instrument called the EDM 665 records the particle size distribution ranging from 5 nanometers to 32 microns. After installation, the instrument operates autonomously for 30 days without need for maintenance and transmits the measured values wirelessly to the scientists. Breaking it down into its components, this system consists of an air-conditioned, weather-protection housing which accommodates the approved Environmental Dust Monitor EDM 180 (for a particle size range from 0.25 to 32 micrometers), an SMPS+C Model 5420 (for a particle size range from 5 to 350 nanometers) and a CPC Model 5421 for verification of the measured data.
Responsible for on-site installation was Sebastian Steinau, Service Specialist of the GRIMM nano department. After crane-loading all devices onto the deck, the assembly of the hardware could begin. A sudden and heavy rainfall caused the commissioning to be quite adventurous but due to a great teamwork it was successfully completed late in the evening, enabling a first test run to be carried out overnight. As expected the system delivered plausible and very interesting measurement values right away on the first day. According to the GRIMM engineer Sebastian Steinau those results could clearly be traced back to the surrounding shipping and loading cranes.
Aerosol data are important for climate research
Not only the particles measured by the EDM665 play a role for getting the big picture, but also meteorological data such as temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure during the measurement. "Together with the meteorological data, the EDM 665 delivers exceptionally interesting information on the physical properties of the aerosol. These data are of greatly important 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 such an enormous project like EUREC4A begin and grow? The first essential step is that one talks about climate models. Complex prediction models state that global warming, in the tropics especially, will cause less clouds to be formed in the future. Less clouds results in more heating of surfaces, which subsequently increases climate change, as the hypothesis is. The catch is: older models predicting exactly the opposite exist as well. Next to that, it is also greatly uncertain how big the dimension of the expected feedback effects is. Therefore, the field study ultimately is a contribution to developing robust climate models enabling more reliable climate predictions.2
The evaluation of all data will take years
The research vessel METEOR arrived the Azores by early March 2020 where the EDM 665 recorded a vast amount of aerosol data. "The measurement data analysis is within the customer responsibility however, we are available for consultation and also very interested in the interpretation of the measured particle distribution," says Sebastian Steinau. Max Planck Institute specialists say it will take "a few years"2 until the data of all project participants are evaluated.
1 Max Planck Institute; https://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; https://www.mpg.de/14382294/clouds-from-every-angle