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!

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

Amazon forest session at EGU 2020

We are once again inviting you to bring the Amazon rainforest, or rather your Amazon research to the EGU General Assembly 2020! We are convening the session “Amazon forest – a natural laboratory of global significance” – a place for a vivid and scientifically fruitful exchange between many researchers from many groups and projects on the Amazon forests – including ATTO. 

Call for Abstracts for EGU 2020 Session on the Amazon forest
Amazon forest – a natural laboratory of global significance

The Amazon forest is the world’s largest intact forest landscape. Due to its large biodiversity, carbon storage capacity, and role in the hydrological cycle, it is an extraordinary interdisciplinary natural laboratory of global significance. In the Amazon rain forest biome, it is possible to study atmospheric composition and processes, biogeochemical cycling and energy fluxes at the geo-, bio-, atmosphere interface under near-pristine conditions for a part of the year, and under anthropogenic disturbance of varying intensity the rest of the year. Understanding its current functioning at process up to biome level in its pristine and degraded state is elemental for predicting its response upon changing climate and land use, and the impact this will have on local up to global scale. This session aims at bringing together scientists who investigate the functioning of the Amazon and comparable forest landscapes across spatial and temporal scales by means of remote and in-situ observational, modelling, and theoretical studies. Particularly welcome are also presentations of novel, interdisciplinary approaches and techniques that bear the potential of paving the way for a paradigm shift.

Convener: Jošt Valentin Lavrič | Co-conveners: Alessandro Araújo, Carlos Alberto Quesada, Matthias Sörgel

The session will be along the lines of this year’s, with two major differences:

1) We’re explicitly opening the session to those who study not only intact/pristine rainforest but also degraded areas (and of their interface)

2) it will be a PICO session.

Abstract submission deadline is January 15. And by the way: For this meeting, the EGU will offset ALL travel-related CO2 emissions from participants.

New publication: Droughts effect leaf flushing in the Amazon

Winter is coming. In the northern hemisphere that is. In these regions, trees are shedding their leaves this time of year, preceded by those beautiful fall colors. Tropical forests like the Amazon do not have such pronounced seasons and are evergreen. Yet they still shed leaves and flush new ones fairly regularly about once a year. What drives the seasonality of leaf flushing we still do not fully understand. But we do now know that this is a really important process because it influences the photosynthetic capacity of the forest. Simply speaking, young leaves are more effective than old ones in performing photosynthesis and sequestering carbon. This means that trees with lots of old leaves are less productive than after flushing new leaves.

new leaves are often bright green
© Martin Kunz / MPI-BGC

In a new study, Nathan Gonçalves and co-authors now wanted to answer two important questions related to this.
1) Do extreme climate events such as droughts influence leaf flushing, and thereby the average leaf age and photosynthetic capacity of the forest?
And 2) Is it possible to monitor more subtle changes associated with extreme events (compared to season changes) with satellites?

To address the first question they studied the 2015/2016 El Nino. This manifested as an extreme drought in the Amazon basin. They found that many trees flushed new leaves right after the drought ended, some four months prior to other years. This resulted in more mature leaves much earlier than usual. This shift in leaf age ended up having an impact on the photosynthetic capacity for about 1.5 years after the drought.

To tackle the second question they compared photos from cameras mounted on the ATTO tall tower with satellite data. In the past, data from remote sensing faced some challenges (like cloud cover for example) until scientists developed a new correction method called MODIS-MAIAC. This method had been proven to detect the large seasonal changes or leaf ages. Gonçalves and co-authors could now show they are also able to pick up on the smaller anomalous shifts caused by the El Nino drought.

The paper was published in “Remote Sensing of Environment and is available here (closed access): Both near-surface and satellite remote sensing confirm drought legacy effect on tropical forest leaf phenology after 2015/2016 ENSO drought.

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.

Continue reading"Exchange and Synthesis: 2019 ATTO Workshop"