Finnish-led research infrastructure provides new information about the atmosphere

7 Apr 2016

The European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) launched its new roadmap for European research infrastructures in late March 2016. One of the projects selected for the new roadmap is ACTRIS, the European Research Infrastructure for the Observation of Aerosol, Clouds and Trace Gases, which is coordinated by Finland.

ACTRIS serves a vast community of researchers by offering high-quality atmospheric observation data. The infrastructure produces data on atmospheric particles, clouds and trace gases especially for research into climate change, air quality and health. It also contributes to generating new knowledge that will benefit the next assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The observations made through ACTRIS can also be used by business companies for corporate activities.

Particulates, or atmospheric particulate matter, are currently the focus of much research attention worldwide. The effects of particulates on climate change are so complex that researchers have yet to uncover their full impact on the climate system. It is estimated that particulate matter emissions, and thereby also particulate matter concentrations in the atmosphere, will decrease over the next few decades. Although this is good news for public health reasons, better air quality may in fact increase global warming. Thus far, particulate matter pollution has actually helped slow down climate change.

 “Figuring out the exact interaction mechanisms of climate change requires in-depth knowledge of how particulate matter is formed and spreads, for instance. To produce this knowledge, we need extensive obversation data and a wide international measurement network,” says Markku Kulmala in a press release by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Kulmala heads the Academy of Finland’s Centre of Excellence in Atmospheric Science.

The partners in the ACTRIS infrastructure are the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the University of Helsinki, Tampere University of Technology and the University of Eastern Finland. The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the Ministry of Transport and Communications are also involved as background organisations.

Finland and Finnish actors are involved in a number of research infrastructures that are included in the ESFRI roadmap and that support research in a variety of fields.

Finland’s own research infrastructure roadmap was published in 2014. It lists major Finnish research infrastructures that make up the Finnish research infrastructure landscape. In addition, the roadmap lists Finnish partnerships in ESFRI projects as well as international infrastructures where Finland is a member state and local infrastructures of key importance to research organisations.

The Academy of Finland provides funding for the acquisition, establishment or strengthening of nationally significant research infrastructures that promote scientific research.

Last modified 7 Apr 2016
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