Welcome to our website for ATTO, the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory – an Amazon research project.

This research site is located in the middle of the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil, about 150 km north of Manaus. It is run together by scientists from Germany and Brazil. Its aim is to continuously record meteorological, chemical and biological data, such as the concentration of greenhouses gases. With the help of these data, we hope to gain insights into how the Amazon interacts with the overlying atmosphere and the soil below. Because this region is of such importance to the global climate, it is vital to get a better understanding of these complex processes. Only then will we be able to make more accurate climate predictions.

Have a look around on our website to learn more about the research performed at ATTO and in labs and offices around the world. Please note that the website is still under constructions and more content will be added. So be sure to check back soon! You can also follow us on Social Media to get an insight into the daily lives of the ATTO scientists and stay up-to-date on all the latest news and events!

Two PhD projects available at MPI-BGC Jena

Both PhD project is part of the International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles (IMPRS-gBGC) at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.

In cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry houses a unique and flexible research program that grants German and foreign students a broad selection of learning opportunities while still maintaining a research focus. The IMPRS-gBGC offers a PhD program specializing in global biogeochemistry and related Earth System sciences.

The first project is directly related to ATTO. Supervisors are Dr. Jost Lavric and Prof. Susan Trumbore. The second project is partially related to ATTO, but will also incoorporate other research projects. Supervisors are Gerd Gleixner and Georg Pohnert.

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Job offer: postdoc in atmospheric science

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to support our team with the challenging and exciting operation of the aerosol measurements at the ATTO site as well as the analysis and publication of the unique measurement data.

The successful candidate will be part of an international team conducting and analysing the long-term observations as well as in-depth process studies of atmospheric aerosols and their links to rainforest ecology, cloud microphysics and hydrological cycling in the Amazon.

Main working location will be Mainz, Germany, with frequent participation in field trips to the Amazon.

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2019 ATTO Meeting – Registration now OPEN!

We’re pleased to announce that for this year’s ATTO Meeting registration is NOW OPEN! INPA will be our host in Manaus on September 16 – 18. We kindly ask you to please to use the short registration form in time to ensure that the organizational team can put together the best possible meeting for all of us.

The focus of the meeting will be scientific exchange, therefore it is open to all members of ATTO consortium, incl. students and early career scientists. We hope you will be able to attend in large numbers and we can have many fruitful discussions over the three days. We want to give the maximum amount of people the chance to present their research. Therefore, most of the time will be dedicated to poster sessions, preceded by < 3 min poster presentations.

Head over to the meeting’s subpage for more details. We will post information about the schedule and side events will be there as soon as they become available. So check back or follow along on our social media channels.

New Publication: Human influence on particulate matter in the Amazon

We hear a lot about particulate matter these days, mostly in the context of air pollution in inner cities. But what about particulate matter in the Amazon rainforest? Well, the short answer is that particulate matter is present in the air above the Amazon, too. And although its concentrations are lower than those in large cities, urbanization and deforestation fires have a significant impact. To find out what that impact exactly is, was the aim of a new study by Suzane de Sá and co-authors.

They analyzed the concentration, composition and properties of particulate matter in the central Amazon. As part of the GoAmazon campaign, they collected data during the dry season, when burning events are most frequent. Their primary study site was downwind of Manaus, but they used the ATTO site with its relatively clean air upwind of Manaus for comparison. To have this comparison is important to identify the effects of urban pollution and forest burning on the natural background. The mean concentration of particulate matter found at the study site was ca. 12 µg/m3 in the small PM1 fraction (particles smaller than 1µm in diameter). For comparison, average values in European cities are in the range of 15 to 20 µg/m3. But in areas with severe air pollution, those values can skyrocket and reach over 100 µg/m3.

In the Amazon, particles from biomass burning and urban pollution account for ca. 30 % of all particulate matter, while the rest comes from biogenic sources. The team also found a much higher overall concentration of particulate matter during the dry season. This is in part because of the increase in particles from anthropogenic sources. But the amount of particles from biogenic sources also increases during that time. But even though the anthropogenic fraction of particulate matter is relatively low, they absorb much more light than biogenic particles do. This, in short, makes the air warmer. Biogenic particles reflect more light, counteracting the greenhouse effect to some degree.

The paper was recently published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and is available Open Access: 10.5194/acp-19-7973-2019

New Publication: biodiversity of microorganisms within aerosols of the Amazon rainforest

It is well established that aerosols are relevant for the climate, for example, because they contribute to cloud formation. However, natural, biological aerosols emitted by plants serve another important purpose. They help disperse living microorganisms across the globe, affecting their distribution. Yet little is known about those bioaerosols emitted by pristine forests such as the Amazon. And even less about the diversity of the microorganisms in the aerosols.

Felipe Souza and co-authors now collected bioaerosols at our ATTO site. Then they extracted and analyzed the DNA to determine the communities present. This is the first study which described the community of microorganisms within aerosols in the Amazon. They found many different types of bacteria and fungi. Some were cosmopolitan taxa, but they also identified many that are specific to certain environments such as soil or water. This suggests that the atmosphere may act as an important gateway for bacteria to be exchanged between plants, soil, and water.

Their results also reveal that the main source for bioaerosols emitted from the Amazon rainforest are organisms that are known to disperse their spores through the atmosphere: fungi and bacteria. We know that these groups of organisms can produce enzymes and metabolites including antibiotics. Finding them in the vast jungle wilderness of the Amazon, however, is difficult. Analyzing forest aerosols may be a way to localize them for the potential use in biotechnological applications. 

Souza et al. published this paper as a Short Communication in Science of the Total Environment.

Graphic Abstract from Souza et al. (2019)