Twice a year, the Global Atmosphere Watch Training & Education Centre (GAWTEC) organizes courses for technicians and junior scientists working at GAW stations. Courses last two weeks and take place at the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus, located very close to the summit of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak. For more information on GAWTEC, including the dates of upcoming courses, just check their excellent website.

The Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus as seen from the cable car going up to the summit of the Zugspitze.

One of the yearly GAWTEC courses is usually devoted to aerosols and covers a wide range of topics — from their physical and optical properties to instrumentation and data analysis. This year, one of the most recent members of the AEROATLAN project, Javier López-Solano, had the opportunity to assist to the 33rd GAWTEC course on aerosols, held from September 17th to 30th.

The classroom at Schneefernerhaus, showing the amazing view at sunrise.

Although it was a lot of hard work, our friend and colleague Javier tells us that it was a great experience, not only because he learned a lot, but also thanks to all the wonderful people involved — both the course staff and the other students. If you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to attend a GAWTEC course!

Summer campaign at Izaña

Summer is a busy time at the Izaña GAW Observatory, specially for us working in aerosols — at this time of the year, strong mineral dust events happen very often.

A view of the main building of the Izaña GAW Observatory from the roof of the Joseph M. Prospero lab. In the foreground, the head of the Beta Air Monitor operating inside the lab.

Summer campaigns to collect aerosol samples have been carried out at the Izaña GAW Observatory since 1987, starting with the research of Professor Joseph M. Prospero. All these data allows us to investigate trends in dust outbreaks, changes in its composition, and relationships with meteorological patterns.

Click here to see more photos of the Summer ’17 campaign!

New AEROATLAN publication

The paper “Impact of North America on the aerosol composition in the North Atlantic free troposphere”, by our colleagues M. Isabel García, Sergio Rodríguez, and Andrés Alastuey, has been recently published in the journal Atmospheric, Chemistry and Physics.

The paper’s abstract highlights the importance of this paper for our research project:

In the AEROATLAN project we study the composition of aerosols collected over ∼5 years at Izaña Observatory (located at  ∼2400 m.a.s.l. in Tenerife, the Canary Islands) under the prevailing westerly airflows typical of the North Atlantic free troposphere at subtropical latitudes and midlatitudes. Mass concentrations of sub-10 µm aerosols (PM10) carried by westerly winds to Izaña, after transatlantic transport, are typically within the range 1.2 and 4.2 µgm−3 (20th and 80th percentiles). The main contributors to background levels of aerosols (PM10 within the 1st–50th percentiles = 0.15–2.54 µgm−3) are North American dust (53%), non-sea-salt sulfate (14%) and organic matter (18%). High PM10 events (75th–95th percentiles  ≈ 4.0–9.0 µgm−3) are prompted by dust (56%), organic matter (24%) and non-sea-salt sulfate (9%). These aerosol components experience a seasonal evolution explained by (i) their spatial distribution in North America and (ii) the seasonal shift of the North American outflow, which migrates from low latitudes in winter (∼32°N, January–March) to high latitudes in summer (∼52°N, August–September). The westerlies carry maximum loads of non-sea-salt sulfate, ammonium and organic matter in spring (March–May), of North American dust from midwinter to mid-spring (February–May) and of elemental carbon in summer (August–September). Our results suggest that a significant fraction of organic aerosols may be linked to sources other than combustion (e.g. biogenic); further studies are necessary for this topic. The present study suggests that long-term evolution of the aerosol composition in the North Atlantic free troposphere will be influenced by air quality policies and the use of soils (potential dust emitter) in North America.

You can download the paper from the ACP website

Congratulations to Isabel, Sergio, and Andrés!