Aerosol and Cloud Physics at the University Mainz

The research aircraft M-55 Geophysica. Picture: Ralf Weigel, University Mainz

Research Group Prof. Dr. Stefan Borrmann, Dr. Ralf Weigel and Dr. Jacob Fugal

The group aerosol and cloud physics is located at the Institute for physics of the atmosphere, University Mainz. The physical properties of aerosol particles and cloud elements (ice particles and cloud droplets) are investigated predominantly with airborne measurement techniques.

Condensation Particle Counters (CPC) are used to determine the aerosol number concentration. Furthermore number concentration and size distribution of cloud elements are investigated by using optical particle spectrometers (CIP, CCP, PIP und FSSP). Thus, with our instrumentation an overall diameter range of aerosol particles and cloud elements from 6 nm to 6 mm is covered. Our instrumentation is mainly applied, beyond other airborne platforms, on board the high altitude research aircraft “M-55 Geophysica” (image) which allows for measurements at flight altitudes of up to 20 km. So far scientific missions were performed on in the Arctic (2003 and 2010: North Sweden), mid-latitudes (several times from 2003 through 2009: Italy and South Germany) and the Tropics (2005: Brazil and Australia; 2006: West Africa).

Several scientific objectives were focused throughout these different research missions: e.g. Arctic Lee Wave Clouds, Polar Stratospheric Clouds, Tropical Thunderstorm Clouds – particularly Mesoscale Convective Systems and their outflow region as well as the distribution of Stratospheric Aerosol, New Particle Formation in the Tropical Transition Layer and the composition of the aerosol in the Arctic winter vortex.

Our scientific work aims at gaining the knowledge about formation and interaction mechanisms of aerosols and cloud elements in due consideration of atmospheric transport processes. Furthermore this aims at investigating the influence of aerosol and cloud elements on the atmospheric chemistry and radiation budget.