Meet Olaf: Taking care of field installations takes a village!

Olaf Kolle is responsible for field installations at ATTO.
© Martin Hertel / MPI-BGC

My name is Olaf Kolle and I am the scientific head of the Central Service Group ‘Field Experiments and Instrumentation’ at the MPI-BGC in Jena. Currently, we are 13 people in this Service Group. I myself am a meteorologist. But our group members have a wide range of backgrounds, from scientists over gardeners to engineers. This means that we have accumulated a large amount of technical and scientific expertise to plan, set up and maintain field installations.

That includes many different tasks, including designing and installing self-sufficient power supply systems and taking care of data transmission. But we are also performing measurement campaigns with drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, short UAVs), develop specific scientific instruments or conceive complex experiments. All of that happens in close collaboration with our scientists. And as if that would not be enough, we are also operating several weather stations in Germany. Their data can be accessed here.

For many of our team, our jobs require us to collect lots of frequent flyer miles. We are currently taking care of projects in Spain, Siberia, on Greenland, and in Brazil. To do our work, we simply have to hop on a plane and visit our field installations in person. One of the two sites in Brazil is of course ATTO. Only four of us visit ATTO regularly, namely the engineers Martin Hertel and Karl Kübler, our technician Kerstin Hippler and I. (You will meet those another time.) Other people strongly involved in the project are Steffen Schmidt and Uwe Schultz from the tall tower group of Jost Lavric.

For ATTO, I lead the development of the micro-meteorological instrumentation and data acquisition of the tall tower. Many instruments including fast sensors for wind, CO2 and water vapor will be installed on more than 10 levels. We had planned to do this soon, but now have to wait when we will be able to return to ATTO. Over the last few years, we have designed and installed all of the lab containers. We provided electrical power to the containers and all measurement platforms on the tall tower. Recently, we also refurbished the entire electrical installation of the camps. We designed the new foldable outriggers for the micro-met measurements. In addition, we installed the new safety rail along the staircase and two lifts on the tall tower.

But of course, we don’t do all this alone! We are always in close collaboration with Reiner Ditz and Andrew Crozier from the MPI-C. And couldn’t do it without the support of our Brazilian workers Valmir, Wesley and Frank from ROSWAND. And I must mention Leonardo Ramos de Oliveira from INPA, who is mainly responsible for the micro-met installation. Together we were also working on the infrastructure and safety technology around ATTO.

I hope that none of us and also nobody around ATTO will have any serious health problems due to COVID-19. I also hope that this worldwide crisis will come to an end not too far in the future so that we all will be able to meet again to continue our fruitful scientific work at ATTO.