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!

New Publication: When do fungi release their spores?

Fungal spore emissions are an important contributor to biogenic aerosols, but we have yet to understand under what conditions fungi release their spores. Nina Löbs and co-authors developed a new technique to measure emissions from single organisms and tested this out at ATTO and with controlled lab experiments. They published their results in the Open Access Journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques.

large tropical fungi
Fungi of the species Rigidoporus microporus, on which they studied fungal spore emissions. © Sebastian Brill / MPI-C

Aerosols play an important role in various atmospheric processes, and in particular in cloud formation. Therefore it is important to know how they are produced. In the middle of the Amazon rainforest, far away from any human pollutants, most aerosols are biogenic. Among the larger size fractions, fungal spores are dominating. But what are the favorable conditions for fungi to release their spores? That’s exactly what Nina Löbs and her co-authors wanted to find out!

To approach this complex question, they set up an exciting, new measurement technique that allows measuring fungal spore emissions of single organisms. So far, most bioaerosol measurement techniques only measured atmospheric concentrations of all aerosols in the atmosphere. This, however, does not allow distinguishing between different source organisms or communities. With their new set-up at hand, they went to ATTO. Here, they could measure the spore release in the forest near the site under natural conditions. In addition, they set up laboratory experiments. This allowed them to compare the field measurements with others conducted under controlled conditions. That is important, because in nature several environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, might change at the same time. In a controlled lab experiment, it is possible to change just one of these at a time and keep the other factor constant. For their study, they now just focused on one species to illustrate the measurement techniques and results.

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New Publication: atmospheric conditions during convective storms over the tropical rainforest

Convective storms often occur the tropics and have the potential to disturb the lower part of the atmosphere. They might even improve the venting of trace gases out of the forest canopy into the atmosphere above. To better understand these processes, Maurício Oliveira and co-authors used the infrastructure at ATTO to study storm outflows during nighttime. They published the results in a new paper in the Open Access Journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Why does it rain so frequently in the tropics? The reason is a mixture of many factors, but most importantly it’s very warm and very humid most of the time. Over the course of the day, it gets hotter and warm air rises. Further up in the atmosphere it slowly cools down. Thus water vapor condenses into cloud droplets and subsequently ice particles and convective storms form. A convective storm is per definition one that forms because of latent heat, i.e. the process just described. These storms often produce rain and strong winds. Once the winds hit the ground at high speeds, they spread out into all directions and may continue to flow over considerable distances. That’s why we sometimes experience strong winds (called outflow) before thunderstorms reach us.

But convective storms are associated with another important process that we can’t experience ourselves. These strong storms disturb the lower part of the atmosphere. This may affect the exchange of chemicals between the forest and the atmosphere. For example, the outflow winds associated with convective storms might improve the venting of trace gases out of the forest canopy into the atmosphere above. This is why our team wants to learn more details about convective storms in tropical forests.

convective storm over the forest
© Steffen Schmidt / MPI-BGC
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Fourth Newsletter

The fourth newsletter is here! Check it out to find out what we have been up to in the last couple of months.

The newsletter included regular sections, such as “New publications” and “Meet the team”. But we have also made some additions you might find useful, such as highlights from reports in the media about our project.

By the way, if you want to have a look at everything published in the media about ATTO, head over to the Media Digest. If you’re looking for some of our previous newsletters, you can find them all in our Info Material section.

To get the newsletter delivered right into your email inbox, subscribe to the ATTO mailing list.

PhD project available at MPI-BGC Jena

The 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.

Supervisors of the PhD project are Dr. Jost Lavric and Prof. Susan Trumbore. 

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ATTO at AGU 2019

Again this year, we will be present at the AGU Fall Meeting 2019 with some interesting presentations that cover a range of topics! If you are in San Francisco next week, you can learn out more about the latest Amazon research from ATTO make sure to put the following items on your schedule:

AGU fall meeting 2019 logo