Our research at ATTO is very diverse, as are the data we collect. Therefore, we have a large variety of projects covering a range of disciplines.
Find an overview of individual projects at ATTO in alphabetical order below. Click to learn out more about each project. For further details about a specific project or are interested in collaborating, please contact the respective principal investigators. The list will be expanded continuously.
Please note that this page goes into the nitty-gritty details of our research and is primarily aimed at the scientific community. If what you’re looking for is an overview of the different themes of our work, visit the page “Research fields”
Forest and forest floor
We are using radiocarbon and ecosystem models to determine the time that carbon is stored in ecosystems, and the time that it takes for an atom of carbon to pass through the whole ecosystem, from the time it enters through photosynthesis until it is respired back to the atmosphere. Samples are collected in the vicinity of the 80 m tower and analyzed with an Accelerator Mass Spectrometer at the MPI-BGC.
Cryptogamic communities, composed of cyanobacteria, algae, bryophytes, lichens, and non-lichenized fungi in varying proportions, densely colonize the epiphytic habitat (tree stems, branches, leaves) and also the ground at the ATTO site. In this project, we investigate the relevance of these communities in biosphere-atmosphere exchange processes, depending on their coverage, composition, and their physiological activity patterns. We investigate their bioaerosol release patterns and mechanisms, monitor their physiological activity patterns, and thus investigate their potential influence in atmospheric processes.
Principle Investigator: Bettina Weber (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, University of Graz)
Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs) are emitted largely by plants and are one important component of the biosphere-atmosphere interactions. A lot of efforts has been put on BVOC emission modeling, but we still have large uncertainties in model estimates, which are mostly related to the lack of ability to represent the effects of plant biodiversity on BVOC emissions. In order to improve estimates of BVOC emissions from the Amazon, our project aims to develop a new approach that links BVOC emissions and plant functional trait biodiversity.
Principle Investigator: Eliane Gomes-Alves (Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry)
Investigate how biotic and abiotic factors influence BVOC emissions from tree leaves, litterfall and soil. Our focus is on plant economic strategies, species abundance and distrubution along a hydroedaphic gradient, and how these variables can be used to predict emission rates, thus improving emission models.
Principle Investigator: Eliane Gomes-Alves (Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry)
Central Amazon forest productivity is highly seasonal. Change in the health and efficiency of leaves as they age appears to govern this seasonality – more so than seasonal change in rainfall and sunlight. We use a “phenology” camera, monthly census of leaf ages on tree branches along a 100 m canopy walkway, and other means to measure leaf demography. We also investigate why most trees produces new leaves in the drier months of the year and whether this is detectable by remote sensing satellites.
We seek to understand the role played by events that can cause clustered tree mortality, such as strong downdraft winds, in the regional carbon balance of central Amazon forests. To do this, we monitor forest dynamics in a chronosequence of large wind-throw gaps varying in time since the disturbance in the ATTO region. Such measurements, however, are not detailed enough to detect the effects of wind on single trees. New measurements will combine remote sensing methods with monitoring of wind speeds and detailed studies of biomass mechanics in an 18 ha plot with a long history of measurement; a new Wplot will be installed at ATTO.
Above the forest canopy
We perform continuous 222Radon progeny measurements at intermediate height (81m) to use this tracer for transport model validation. Integrated 14CO2 measurements on air from the highest level (321m) of the tower together with campaign data of 14CO2 profiles within the canopy and observations on soil and plant respiration, will be used to estimate carbon turnover times in this tropical ecosystem.
Principal Investigator: Ingeborg Levin (Heidelberg University)
Develope a UAV for periodic deployment at ATTO. It will have a reach of at least 10 km and a payload capability of at least 2 kg. The UAV will be compatiple to a variety of payloads, serving different scientific needs.
Principle Investigator: Martin Kunz (Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry)
Amazonia with the framework of the project aerosol and cloud life cycle, biogenic emissions and biomass burning impacts on the ecosystem. We intend to combine VOCs and aerosol chemical characterizations at real time (online) to bring insights about SOA formation in pristine Amazon region.
Principle Investigator: Paulo Artaxo (University of Sao Paulo)
Isoprene represents the largest source of non-methane volatile organic carbons in the atmosphere and is primarily emitted from vegetation. Based on the two double bonds, isoprene is highly reactive towards atmospheric oxidants like OH and NO radicals. The subsequent reactive uptake on acidic particles is strongly dependent on the NO concentration. Thus, filter sampling will be performed under both low-and high-NO conditions (wet and dry season) to study the isoprene SOA contribution.
Principal Investigator: Thorsten Hoffmann (Johannes Gutenberg -University Mainz)
The Amazonian rainforest is a large tropical ecosystem and is regarded as one of the last pristine continental terrains. This project studied the diel and seasonal behavior of biological volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) within and above the forest ecosystem. The studies report atmospheric BVOC measurements at the Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) site by a quadrupole proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer (PTR-MS) as well as gas chromatographic analysis of cartridge samples.
Principal Investigator: Jürgen Kesselmeier (Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry)
MAX-DOAS measurements allow measuring vertical profiles of trace gases and aerosols in about the lowest 2 km of the atmosphere. Such measurements are important to characterize emission sources and atmospheric chemical processes.
Principal Investigator: Thomas Wagner (Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry)
Important scientific questions concerning the actual in situ functioning of biogenic communities in fogs and clouds remain, starting with the basic identification of its active members microbes, pollens, fungi, ferns, bryophytes, pollens and so on. This consortium of active microorganisms would then provide crucial information for further research on the interactions existing between microbial communities and abiotic processes in clouds, as well as important insights into the aerial dispersion of microorganisms, and their possible role as cloud and ice nuclei.
VOCs concentrations complete understanding through true resolved measurements with PTR-TOF-MS and chemically resolved measurements with PTR-TOF-MS combined wih OH reactivity measurements. Diel vertical and seasonal variability is investigated with instruments and inlets at three heights.
Principle Investigator: Jonathan Williams (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry)
Simulating the exchange of water and carbon between the land surface and atmosphere remains a challenging task for global climate models. Due to the dense and tall forest vegetation at the ATTO site, micrometeorological measurements from the ATTO tower are very useful to test and advance existing formulations of these processes in models. We use a single column version of the ICON-JSBACH climate model developed at the MPI for Meteorology in Hamburg to simulate exchange processes at the ATTO site and compare model results to tower measurements to identify possible shortcomings in the model.
Principal Investigator: Felix Ament (Meteorological Institute, University of Hamburg)
This project aims at understanding the physical processes driving the exchange of properties between the forest and the atmosphere. Most of such an exchange is done by the turbulent flow above and within the forest canopy and, therefore, understanding the characteristics and properties of turbulence is crucial. The atmospheric boundary layer is the portion of the atmosphere directly affected by the surface and may be regarded as the turbulence layer. Knowing its thickness, daily and seasonal variability and how it is affected by external conditions is another main goal of this project. Measurements are performed with a variety of instruments at the ATTO tall tower.