Climate Watchers Tower Over Amazon

Brazilian scientists are to construct an observation tower in the Amazonian forest that will rise over double the height of New York’s Rockefeller Center and reach almost as high as the Empire State building.

The 325 metre high Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) will gather data on heat, water, cloud formation, carbon absorption and weather patterns over the rainforest and is a joint project of Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research  (INPA) and Germany’s Max Planck Institute. It will dwarf what’s currently the tallest tower in Amazonia, an 80 metre high structure built by Brazil’s INPA agency.

Surveyed from above: Does Amazonia's weather change climate?

Surveyed from above: Does Amazonia’s weather change  our global climate?

The slender tower will rise from near-pristine forest about 150 kms from Manaus at and will be assembled from a steel structure being transported to the site on trucks and rafts from southern Brazil. Its foundations were laid in August at Uatumã inside a sustainable development reserve. Completion is planned for the end of 2015. You can read a Portuguese article about it by clicking here.

Because of its height, the tower will make it possible to investigate the alteration and movement of air masses through the forest over a distance of several hundred kilometres. It is part of the Large-Scale-Biosphere-Atmosphere-Experiment – LBA, being carried out across Amazonia. Eventually, there will be a further four 80 metre high towers built around the ATTO tower.

View  from the top: How ATTO might look

View from the top: How ATTO might look

“The tower will help us answer innumerable questions related to global climate change,” said Prof. Paulo Artaxo, a project coordinator from the University of Sao Paulo. “We will gain a better understanding of the role of the Amazon and other humid tropical areas in climate models.” Prof Artaxo  is Brazil’s most highly-cited climate  change researcher and already leads large-scale programs in Amazonia including  GOAmazon, a project  also co-financed by  the Max Planck Institutes and FAPESP, the São Paulo  Research Foundation.

“The measurement point is widely without direct human influence, and therefore ideal to investigate the meaning of the forest region for the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere,” Jurgen Kesselmeier, the project coordinator for the German side, told the website published by the Max Planck Institutes. You can read more about Germany’s involvement by clicking here.

The Tall Tower or ATTO has been a live project since March 2009, following a joint agreement between the German and Brazilian governments. You can read more about its history by clicking here.

Similar towers exist in the Namibian desert at Gobabeb and in Siberia, all involving the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz.

The Brazilian initiative was widely reported in international media. You can read more about it in   the UK’s Guardian by clicking here. The BBC also reported on the new tower and you can read its article by clicking here.






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