Welcome

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!

Visiting local schools to present ATTO

We want to share with you some news about an exciting project that developed over the last few weeks. Back in November, we had some very special visitors to our site. We had invited teachers from four near-by communities of indigenous people along the Uatumã River to ATTO. Representatives of the Secretary of Education of Presidente Figueiredo, the municipality to which these communities belong, joined them on this visit. This was a fantastic opportunity to get to know our neighbors in the forest better, to tell them about our research and show them the observatory. Afterwards, we discussed over lunch how we can best collaborate in the future.

One of the outcomes was to arrange for our team to engage the youth in those communities. So, over the last two weeks, some of our scientists visited these local schools and presented our research. Prior, most students and residents hadn’t known much about our work and were amazed by everything they saw and heard. Some teachers have already asked about the possibility of further developing this partnership. One such option is to create school projects with an environmental focus associated with our research at ATTO. Additionally, we had a visit from the coordinator of the Sustainable Development Reserve Uatumã. He was impressed with the project and would like to expand the interaction to the other schools in the reserve.

We are very excited about this development. And we hope these visits will not only serve as a way to inform the whole community about our work but also spark curiosity for science among the children.

Impressions from the visits

New Publication: rainforest VOC emissions change in El Nino years

OH reactivity (as a measure for VOCs) in the lower part of the graph indicated by the black (2012) and red (2015) lines show maxima at noon and around sunset, respectivelyScience is a lot like life: Things don’t always turn out the way you thought they would.

Recently, Eva Pfannerstill and her team wanted to find out how Amazonian plants react to ecological stresses, such as heat and drought. They wondered if they release more VOCs in such a situation. To do that, they compared data from November 2012 and 2015. 2012 was a pretty “normal” year without any significant temperature or precipitation anomaly. 2015, on the other hand, was influenced by a particularly strong El Nino. It brought extremely hot temperatures and severe drought to the region. However, the scientists were surprised to find that overall emissions were pretty much the same in the two years. But they did discover a different distribution over the day. In the El Nino year, the plants emitted most VOCs during the sunset hour. In the  “normal” year the peak was at noon. They attribute this unexpected discovery to more turbulent winds associated with the high temperatures. These transport the VOCs higher, above the forest canopy to the instrument.

The study was published in Frontiers in Forest and Global Change, Issue 18 under the title “Total OH Reactivity Changes Over the Amazon Rainforest During an El Niño Event” by Pfannerstill et al. and is available Open Access.

New Publication: Comparing air pollution in Manaus and at ATTO by identifying aerosols

You have probably heard a lot about air pollution recently, comparing air pollution in Manaus and in the Amazon rainforest by analyzing what aerosols are present. Edited after Wu et al. (2018)be it because of the massive wildfires in California, smog in India or the diesel emission scandal in Germany. So let’s look into air pollution in the Amazon. Most air pollutants are actually aerosols. Identifying these aerosols and their chemical composition can help us understand where they come from and to what extent certain regions are affected by air pollutions. That is exactly what Li Wu and co-authors did in their new study in the Amazon rainforest.

They collected and analyzed aerosols in two locations: the city of Manaus, a large urban area in Brazil, and the ATTO site in the heart of the forest. The samples were collected during the wet season when ATTO is mainly influenced by air masses from the Atlantic and is located upwind from Manaus. And indeed they found that at ATTO the aerosols are mostly of organic origin, emitted by the forest itself. Additionally, they could identify mineral dust and sea-salt particles. In contrast, they frequently found soot, fly ash and particles containing heavy metals in the samples in Manaus. These are most likely produced by human activities. The good news is that such anthropogenic particles are still largely absent from the atmosphere over the rainforest, showing us that pristine wilderness regions do still exist. That is, at least during the wet season when the winds blow in the “right” direction.

The scientists published the study in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) and is available Open Access here.

AGU Fall Meeting 2018

The AGU Fall Meeting 2018 is approaching fast. Before you all finish up your schedules, we want to draw your attention to the presentations from our ATTO team!

Tuesday, 11 December

Wednesday, 12 December

Friday, 14 December

This year’s AGU Fall Meeting takes place from December 10 – 14 at the Convention Center in Washington D.C. Hope to see you all there! If you can’t make it to AGU, be sure to follow us on Social Media to get a glimpse into the conference and ATTO’s presence there.

 

EGU 2019

Are you heading to the EGU 2019? If the answer is ‘yes’ we might have just the right session for you!

Next year, some members of the ATTO team are convening a session at next years EGU titled “Intact Amazon forest – a natural laboratory of global significance” (BG2.4/AS3.35/HS11.64/SSS10.12). This session aims at bringing together scientists who investigate the functioning of the Amazon and comparable intact forest landscapes across spatial and temporal scales by means of observational, modeling, and theoretical studies. Particularly welcome are also presentations of new, interdisciplinary approaches and techniques. We specifically invite contributions from a great variety of projects investigating the Amazon and its significance for the Earth System and hope many of you will submit abstracts to the session!

EGU 2019 is taking place from  April 7 to 12 in Vienna, Austria, as usual. Travel Grants are offered, for example for Early Career Scientists.

Hope to see you there to gain new insights, inspire new approaches and collaborations and share our passion for performing research in this unique ecosystem with global importance.