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As part of the Austrian radioactivity monitoring network an air sampler and a high resolution radioactivity detection system is installed at the high altitude Sonnblick Observatory (3105 m). The objective is to monitor the radioactivity in air at high altitudes.
GPS has become an important tool both in navigation and in precise point positioning. One of the nuicance parameters limiting the accuracy of point determination is the water vapor content of the troposphere. On the other hand meteorologists are interested in the wet component of the troposphere as a valuable tool for Numerical Weather Prediction. Therefore GPS offers a low cost monitoring of water vapor with high temporal resolution. We make use of continuous measurements of the GPS/GLONASS reference station network in Austria, which currently consists of about 30 sites with distances ranging from 50 km to 120 km. We calculate the zenith wet delays for a period of 2 months (February and March 2002). Subsequently the results are compared to contributions of different processing centers of the COST-716 project ?Exploitation of Ground Based GPS for Climate and NWP? and with zenith path delay estimates provided by the IGS. As meteorologists need the water vapor within less than two hours, special attention is paid to the availability, reliability and especially to the quality of the satellite orbits used for the network calculations.
It is well known that the atmosphere is a conveyor of microorganisms, and that bacteria can act as ice or cloud condensation nuclei, but clouds have not been considered as a site where organisms can live and reproduce. We could show that bacteria in cloud droplets collected at high altitudes are actively growing and reproducing at temperatures at or below 0°C. Since ~60% of the earth surface is covered by clouds, cloud water should be considered as a microbial habitat.
It is well known that tritium, the hydrogen isotope 3H, is part of nuclear weapons and was spread all over the world as a consequence of nuclear bomb explosions. Rarely it is regarded as being “natural”, but actually it is. Long time before humans appeared tritium already existed on earth for a long time. This “natural” tritium is the product of cosmic radiation interactions with the atmosphere (mainly N-14). Nowadays this kind of tritium production contributes only to a small extent to the atmospheric tritium. Tritium is radioactive and decays with a half-life of 4.500 days under the emission of a very low energetic beta-particle. In the atmosphere tritium can be found within water vapour (HTO), hydrogen (HT) or methane (CH3T). Yet, the main portion of tritium released during the 1960’s has already been eliminated from the atmosphere by radioactive decay and precipitation. A large amount is captured in the oceans. Indeed, today anthropogenic sources releasing tritium to the environment can still be found. At the end of the 1980‘s contacts with research institutes in former Eastern Bloc countries lead to the idea of establishing a tritium sampling network. The primary goal was the documentation of atmospheric tritium. Statements about potential releases and their sources and the radiation hazards associated should be obtained. Furthermore it might help with the verification of meteorological models. To acquire comparable results a standardised sampling device was developed. This system simultaneously collects samples of air humidity and hydrogen. It was planned to enlist the gathered data in a database and to use them for the following subjects: • observation of local and global tritium transport in the atmosphere • detecting tritium releases and locating their sources • radiation risk evaluation • examining the transmutation of elemental hydrogen into water under natural conditions With the breakdown of the Eastern Bloc the idea of this common network faded away. At the moment only at two stations in Austria air humidity and air hydrogen are collected as planned: since 1991 at Research Center Arsenal in Vienna and since 1999 at Hoher Sonnblick a high mountain station (3160 m). Currently we are working together with the IAEA on a project with the aim to find a model, which helps evaluating weather conditions and in particular the climatic processes. As for these investigations the stable isotopes H-2 and O-18 are used and the currently used device introduces fractionation a new method is developed right now. Since the specific tritium activity concentration is not affected by air pressure or humidity the values for the two locations can be compared directly. In general the measured values are similar but sometimes differ noticeably. For example a peak value for the tritium activity concentration observed during March 2000 at Sonnblick was not noticed in Vienna. In this context the attempt should be made to analyse the air flows with the help of trajectories. The tritium activity concentration of air humidity is primarily determined by the amount of humidity itself. Therefore the concentration is directly linked to the seasons. Only significant changes in the specific tritium activity concentration can be detected by the use of the tritium activity concentration. Seasonal variations within the tritium activity concentration of hydrogen could not be observed. The values vary around 10 mBq/m3.
The objectives of the project are the investigation of the ion concentration in the precipitation water as well as the determination of the ion entries belonged by the precipitation water. The temporal variability was described on the one hand on the basis the appropriate yearly variations (saisonality), on the other hand over the long-term behaviour (trend) with heavyweight on the main components (S- and N- connections). Additionally on basis of the data of the further Lands of the Federal Republic the spatial variability for the Austrian federal territory is represented.
documentation and monitoring of the aerosol content of a mountain valley atmosphere and its diurnal changes
For the first time in Austria, routine monitoring of the ozone layer as well as routine spectral UV measurements have been performed at Sonnblick. Column ozone, ozone profile, SO2 column, Nox column and spectral UV (from 290 to 325 nm) has been measured with a Brewer spectrometer type MKIV (No 093) since 1994. From 1997 on broad band erythemal UV has been recorded with a Robertson Berger biometer. For registration of the spectral ultraviolet irradiance-particularly the spectral UVB-radiation- a Bentham spectrometer (double monochromator) has been adapted so that it can be used under the extreme climatic conditions on a mountain top. Routine measurements of the spectral irradiance in the spectral range of 280-500 nm are performed in 0.5 nm steps every half hour. Additional information on cloudiness is supplied by a upwards looking CCD camera equipped with a fish eye lense. Sonnblick station is embedded in the EDUCE, GAW and WMO networks.
The photosynthetic productivity and the factors affecting it are measured in the nival zone of the Alps. Patterns of CO2 exchange for several lichen species are determined whilst recording environmental factors such as light and temperature and lichen water content. Whilst these records will show the lichen response over the year they can most easily be interpreted when the photosynthetic ability of individual lichens is well known. To achieve this the response of each species to light intensity, temperature, thallus water content and humidity will be determined under fully controlled conditions in the laboratory. The final aim is to achieve an initial carbon balance model for the lichen species. This will be aided considerably by the deploying of a continuously recording chlorophyll fluorescence system that will provide activity data for one lichen species on a better than hourly basis throughout the year.
For a two year period daily samples of selected trace gases (nitric acid, sulfur dioxide and ammonia) and aerosol compounds (sulfate, nitrate, oxalate and ammonium) are determined with filter packs at the Sonnblick Observatory. The measurements will be used to identify the seasonal cycles of the selected trace gases and aerosol compounds at the 3 km level above Central Europe. Especially during the cold season previous measurements showed that samples collected at the Observatory represent free tropospheric air masses. Together with wet deposition measurements carried out at the site scavenging parameters are calculated.