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CURE-3AB - Cooperation to Unravel the Role of Atmospheric Aerosol over the Amazonian Basin

A key role in climate change is played by the Amazon Basin as it represents approximately 40% of all tropical forests worldwide, making it one of the largest carbon reservoirs in the planet. The equilibrium of this ecosystem has long been disturbed. On one hand, deforestation by the local population and on the other an increasing global temperature which induces precipitation reduction is causing an ongoing degradation which is expected to be more pervasive in the coming decades. Climatic projections suggest that the Amazon basin is caught in a vicious circle. As the land use changes it promotes climate change, which in turn degrades the Amazonia flora further inducing climate change. However, relationship between the warming of global average temperatures and changes in regional precipitation patterns is highly uncertain and therefore not clear yet. Depending on the route the Amazon forest follows, with respect to land use, it can act as a net source or sink of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Deforested area of Amazon basin by 2016
Deforested area of the Amazon basin by 2016, photo by Philip Fearnside


The mission of the Cooperation to Unravel the role of atmospheric aerosol over the Amazonian basin (CURE-3AB) is to provide high quality vertical profiles of key atmospheric pollutants relevant to air quality and climate change at the heart of the Amazonian basin.  Located within the Amazon forest is the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) , a facility taller than the Eiffel tower, dedicated for the observation of atmospheric pollutants. However, the entire vertical distribution of the troposphere cannot be fully accounted for using ATTO alone. This project pursues to complete the missing gap in the vertical distribution of atmospheric pollutants in that climatic sensitive area using both unmanned and manned aerial vehicles provided by The Cyprus Institute and Max Planck Institute, respectively.

The CURE-3AB project is funded by the Research Promotion Foundation under the RESTART 2016—2020 programme International Collaborations—Dual Targeting and by the H2020 WIDESPREAD 2018-2020 program EMME-CARE.

Amazon Tall Tower Observatory
Amazon Tall Tower Observatory

Project Objectives

  • Perform high quality in-situ atmospheric observations over the Amazonian basin in the lower troposphere (0-2 km) with UAVs.
  • Transform commercially available and/or prototype sensors into a robust “UAV-based” end-to-end solutions that can provide high quality atmospheric measurements in the troposphere .
  • Explore the representativeness of the ground-based observations (concentration and size) inside and above the canopy layer but inside the boundary layer, against the dense vertical measurements performed with the UAVs.
  • Examine the subsidence (vertical stratification of gases and aerosol) inside and above the boundary layer that reflects the intercontinental transport patterns observed in the Amazon forest
  • Monitor the vertical distribution of O3 in a densely forested area as a result of biomass burning emissions and vertical mixing.

Research Infrastructure

High Altitude Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO)
haloHALO is the new Research Aircraft for atmospheric research and earth observation of the German Science Community, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. This manned aircraft is equipped with 20 different instruments to record the different primary gaseous and particulate emissions and their transport and transformation to secondary climate pollutants over the Amazon basin.

Amazon Tall Tower Observatory
attoThe Amazon Tall Tower Observatory is a 325 meters tall tower fully instrumented for aerosol and trace gas measurements. Aerosol light scattering, absorption, size distribution, composition, organic content as well as extensive trace gas measurements (CO, CO2, NOx, CH4, N2O, O3, VOCs and many others) are measured continuously since 2012.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Atmospheric Monitoring
uavThe reduced size, weight and power needs of UAVs, along with the reduced cost of the platforms and instrumentation, make them highly suitable to provide in-situ atmospheric observations. Even though small UAVs are subject to significant payload restrictions compared to larger (manned) aircrafts, they have a distinct advantage over their manned counterparts in terms of capability to fly at lower altitudes (0-3 km) while providing spatially dense data collection due to their low speed operation.

UAV-based atmospheric research activities at the Cyprus Institute have been initiated in 2009 ( RPF APAESO project) and significantly expanded in the framework of other EU funded projects (BACCHUS, ACTRIS2, A-LIFE). As such, CyI has significantly increased its research capacities with new aircraft models with fixed/rotary wings, new technical/scientific staff,  and mini sensors that monitor particulate absorption and size distribution along with gaseous pollutants.

Michael Pikridas
Tel: +357 22 208 682   |   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Additional Info

  • Acronym: CURE-3AB
  • Center: EEWRC
  • Funding Source: RPF RESTART 2016-2020, H2020 WIDESPREAD EMME-CARE
  • CyI Funding: (RPF Funding) 80,000
  • Starting Date: 01/2/2019
  • End Date: 01/2/2021
  • Coordinator: The Cyprus Institute
  • Partners: Max Planck Institute for Chemistry (MPIC), Universidade of São Paulo (USP)

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