Monitoring aerosol–cloud interactions

Atmospheric remote sensing is vitally important to addressing major societal challenges related to climate change and atmospheric pollution. An EU-funded project is reducing the uncertainty in critical atmospheric parameters and training a new generation of scientists in new observation techniques.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aerosol–cloud interactions represent the single largest uncertainty in models for prediction of climate changes. Exploiting the recent and rapid development of remote sensing instrumentation related to lidar, radar and radiometry would be highly valuable. However, current university curricula do not include these important techniques.

The 'Initial training for atmospheric remote sensing' (ITARS) project is fostering pan-European course development and training of a new generation of scientists in academia and the private sector. With EU support, the consortium is improving understanding and parameterisation of aerosol and cloud processes in atmospheric models.

ITARS is fostering the synergistic use of various sensor systems through its well-defined research agenda. Fellows become experts in the use of one technology but combine it with at least one other instrument.

The project got off to a very dynamic start with a three-day workshop featuring lectures by all the principal investigators and a summer school focusing on instruments and the algorithms used for interpretation of measurements. Transferable skills are an important complement to technical ones when it comes to career success, so several special courses have also been offered in science communication and mentoring of doctoral students. Another on writing skills is on the agenda for March 2015. The team is exploiting the well-established learning platform Blackboard to which all members continuously contribute online tutorials. During the second project period, another summer school and two joint measurement campaigns organised largely by the fellows themselves rounded out research and training programmes.

Network events and weekly e-seminars provide a valuable forum for presenting research, detailing results and exchanging ideas. All sessions are available on Blackboard.

Outreach began by raising awareness among the general public of climate change and its potential impact. That is shifting as the project moves forward to professional stakeholders and potential career opportunities for the fellows. In October 2015 the ITARS fellows will present themselves on a booth of the World Meteorological Technology Expo in Brussels, an important meeting point of industry and academia in the field of atmospheric remote sensing. The final event will showcase fellows' work to the scientific community, manufacturers of meteorological instruments and the media. A new era in observing and understanding of aerosol–cloud interactions in support of climate modelling is on the horizon.

last modification: 2015-04-03 15:11:57

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