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: Highly Oxygenated Molecules in the Amazon, Beijing and elsewhere

Air pollution is created by enhanced concentrations of particles in the air. Some of these particles are so large that you can easily see them, such as dust or sand. However many are much smaller so that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. This fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is often more dangerous because smaller particles can penetrate deeper into the lung. In addition, these particles play an important role in our climate system. In the atmosphere, for example, they absorb and reflect light, and act as condensation nuclei for clouds. Thus PM2.5 plays a key role for public health and for climate change.

In a new study, Dr. Haijie Tong and co-authors studied a subset of PM2.5, the so-called highly oxygenated molecules (HOMs) and its relationship with radical yield and aerosol oxidative potential. They analyzed fine particulate matter in the air in multiple locations. This including the highly polluted megacity Bejing and in the pristine rainforest at ATTO. They wanted to get insights into the chemical characteristic and evolutions of these HOM particles. In particular, they wanted to find out more about the potential of HOMs to form free radicals. These are highly reactive species with unpaired electrons.

Indeed, they found that the potential that such free radicals are formed is closely associated with the relative abundance of HOMs, radical yield of particulate matter, and the concentration of PM2.5In comparing the different study sites, they made some interesting observations. The forest sites, including at ATTO, the overall concentration of PM2.5is low. But the relative abundance of HOMs within the PM2.5 is fairly high. Therefore, the radical yield of PM2.5 at ATTO is high, but the total radical abundance per volume of air is still pretty low. On the other hand in the megacities, there are lots of PM2.5, but which contains few HOMs. Therefore, the PM2.5 has a lower radical yield compared to the forest sites. However, the total abundance per volume of air is much higher in the cities.

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract from Tong et al. (2019)
Tong et al. (2019) published the paper titled “Radical Formation by Fine Particulate Matter Associated with Highly Oxygenated Molecules” in Environmental Science and Technology: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b05149

Exchange and Synthesis: 2019 ATTO Workshop

In September, scientists of the ATTO project met in Manaus for our 2019 workshop. To our delight, representatives of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), project manager on the German side, and of the Brazilian Ministry for Science could join us for the entire week.

This was already our third workshop, although we never had one on this scale before. Unlike before, the focus of this meeting wasn’t so much on technical or administrative topics. Instead, we dedicated it to scientific exchange. As a result, many of the over 100 participants were MS and PhD students.  The National Institute for Amazon Research (INPA) hosted the workshop at the Bosque de Ciencia on the INPA campus. It is idyllically located in an Amazonian primary forest. Amazingly, we could even spot monkeys scurrying around the auditorium, something that was only surprising to participants who were there for the first time.

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Newsletter #3

The third ATTO newsletter is here! It features announcements regarding the ATTO workshop (have you registered yet? No? Click here!), a new talk series for ATTO scientists at INPA and a breakdown of new publications. The “Meet the team” series is also back, bigger and better, now including project veterans and newbies alike!

To receive the newsletter, please subscribe to our mailing list, subscribe to the RSS feed or follow us on social media. All newsletters will be archived here on the website as well.

Enjoy reading!

New Publication: Footprint region of ATTO

Christopher Pöhlker and co-authors published an extensive new paper, characterizing the footprint region of ATTO. They hope that fellow researchers in the Amazon region can use this publication as resource and reference work to embed ATTO observations into a larger context of Amazonian deforestation and land use change. Pöhlker et al. published the paper Open Access in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Volume 19.

In their study, they used backward trajectories to first define the ATTO footprint region. With this modeling approach, you can trace air masses in the atmosphere back along their presumed transport path to ATTO. Because the source regions of observed trace gases and aerosols might be thousands of kilometers away, they did not necessarily trace it all the way back. Instead, they defined the region on the South American continent over which the atmosphere interacts most intensely with the land surface below. Such interactions might be the exchange of gases, taking up water vapor or releasing it through precipitation, or altering the aerosol content (e.g. washing out of aerosols with rain or taking up new aerosols that are dispersed into the atmosphere).

Wind direction and speed mainly shape the location and size of the footprint region. At ATTO, this largely depends on the seasonal shift of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). The authors found a northeasterly path during the wet season, with the air moving largely over pristine rainforest. During the dry season, the air takes a more southeasterly path within the influence of agricultural areas.Secondly, they further characterized this ATTO footprint area. They looked at it in terms of climate, land cover and -use, fire regimes and present-day and future deforestation scenarios. They placed a large emphasis on human-caused transformations in Amazonia and how this will influence data observed at ATTO. While it is still possible to study unperturbed rainforest today, they conclude that this will likely decrease in the future. In contrast, atmospheric signals from human-made and climate-change-related forest perturbations will increase in frequency and intensity.

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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