Climate research: low-level flights over the Jülich Börde

Environmental researchers carry out measuring campaign

Motor glider with highly sensitive measuring instruments © MetAir
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Again this year, a motor glider regularly pulls its tracks at a height of 50 meters above the Jülich boarder and adjacent areas. Since 15 August 2007, scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich have been carrying out a measuring campaign in which they are investigating how crops of a region intensively used for agriculture change the regional carbon dioxide balance in the atmosphere.

The Jülich researchers at the Institute of Chemistry and Dynamics of the Geosphere want to find out how different soils and vegetation - such as sugar beets or maize plants - influence the concentration of carbon dioxide and water vapor in the air. However, in cooperation with colleagues from the universities of Cologne and Bonn, they are also investigating in which wider environment of a field this influence is still noticeable.

Motor glider with high tech equipment on board

Since 15 August 2007, they have been using a motor glider equipped with highly sensitive measuring devices. It records the carbon dioxide and water vapor content of the air, the concentration of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and meteorological data such as wind direction and wind speed. Last but not least, scientists can determine the biological activity of crops from the aircraft with great precision.

Ground measuring station near Selhausen © Forschungszentrum Jülich

In addition, the interdisciplinary team of soil, plant and atmospheric scientists has been using soil-based measurements on a special measuring field near Selhausen to determine the soil parameters that are important for plant growth. During the intensive measurement phase in August, they also analyze photosynthesis rates on various plants to calculate how much carbon dioxide is absorbed from the air and how much water is released into the air. Both are, according to the Jülich scientists, of great importance for climate research.

More flights until the end of August

Until August 31, 2007, measurements will take place on a total of five to six days from 10 am to 6 pm. The flight route runs between the Forschungszentrum Jälich in the north, the Inden mine in the west, the Hambach opencast mine in the east and the city of D ren in the south. display

The used single-engined aircraft is one of the quietest powered airplanes anywhere and the cooperation partner MetAir has many years of experience with meteorological research flights. In each direction is also enough space to land safely. The D sseldorfer government president has approved the shortfall of the minimum flight height. Houses are not flown over.

(Forschungszentrum J lich, 28.08.2007 - DLO)