Research foci

Current research of the working group focuses on aerosol and its interaction with natural processes and impact on human and technics.

Aerosol health effects (working place and environment)
(Contact: S. Weinbruch)

Input of pollutants into ecosystems, Arctic aerosol
(Contact: S. Weinbruch)

Electron microscopy techniques for particle characterization
(Contact: M. Ebert)

Atmospheric ice-nuclei
(Contact: M. Ebert)

Stratospheric aerosol
(Contact: M. Ebert)

Mineral dust in the Earth system
(Contact: K. Kandler)

Mineral dust is besides sea-salt the most abundant component of atmospheric aerosol. Mineral dust is raised mainly from soil material. On global scale, predominantly the warm deserts produce mineral dust. On regional scales, also cold deserts and agricultural areas can be of importance as sources. Mineral dust impacts on climate by its atmospheric interactions, on the one hand by modifying directly solar and terrestrial radiation, on the other hand by impacting cloud processes by changing atmospheric temperature distribution and modifying cloud development and precipitation. Moreover, considerable amounts of nutrients are supplied to marine and terrestrial – especially tropical – ecosystems in the form of dust constituents.

Our research currently focuses on investigation of optical properties of airborne mineral dust, for example by modeling real dust particles in detail; on dust dry deposition into the northern Atlantic Ocean and (south) American ecosystems; on modification of dust by atmospheric processes and, for example, the thereby modified impact on cloud process (hygroscopicity).

Aerosol measurement techniques and subsequent electron microscopy analysis
(Contact: K. Kandler)

Measurement of representative aerosol parameters is considerably complicated by the large difference in density between the aerosol particles and the carrier gas air, so that utmost care has to be taken during sampling to maintain representativity. Moreover, the measurement techniques and sampling systems must be able to deal with particles between few nanometers and hundreds of micrometers. Furthermore atmospheric particle concentration gradients of eight orders of magnitude have to be mastered. In addition instruments need to be suitable for variable, at times harsh environmental conditions (e. g., desert, stratosphere, marine).

Our focus is centered on the developments of sampling systems and the construction of samplers, which allow for a subsequent individual particle analysis, for example with electron microscopy. Regarding electron microscopy techniques, currently the determination of particle shapes and structures with as high as possible accuracy is of interest, in particular with respect to the optical modeling; also, automated measurement of particle hygroscopicity of the larger aerosol particles is an ongoing topic.

Urban aerosol
(Contact: D. Scheuvens)

Current and past joint research projects

Saharan Aerosol Long-range Transport and Aerosol-Cloud-Interaction Experiment – SALTRACE


Forschergruppe Ice Nuclei Research Unit – INUIT

Forschergruppe Saharan Mineral Dust Experiment – SAMUM

Sonderforschungsbereich Die troposphärische Eisphase

Cloud and aerosol characterization experiments – CLACE

Additional Information:

Individual Particle Analysis by Electron Microscopy
(Contact: M. Ebert)

Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (ESEM)
(Contact: M. Ebert)