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22.03.17

New equipment for weather researchers on the Eichstätt campus

Shortly before World Meteorological Day the KU began operating a new weather station built according to the standards of the German Meteorological Service, as well as a new pollen trap. Data from the latter will also be shared with Stiftung Deutscher Polleninformationsdienst, a charitable foundation that monitors pollen levels across Germany, making the KU the fourth location in Bavaria to provide the foundation with measurements. In addition to air temperature, precipitation, wind direction, and wind speed, the new weather station will also collect data on soil temperature and humidity, as well as shortwave and longwave radiation. ‘This means that it covers considerably more parameters that the device that we were using before,’ explains Prof. Dr. Susanne Jochner-Oette (professor of physical geography, landscape ecology, and sustainable ecosystem development at the KU), whose research and teaching includes topics related to climate and the weather.


Prof. Dr. Susanne Jochner-Oette with students from the Wetterschau study group at the new weather station.

Once a week an adhesive strip will be removed from the new pollen trap and examined under a microscope to determine the types of pollen and the number of grains. (Photos: Klenk/Jochner)

With the help of currently 13 students from the Wetterschau study group, Professor Jochner-Oette collects and analyzes data on the weather in Eichstätt. The team also compares the results with data on the development of vegetation over the course of the year – a field of study known as phenology. Students recently began documenting the stages of blossoms and leaf buds in Eichstätt’s Hofgarten. Having started these phenological observations, they now aim to carry out continuous monitoring. ‘There are two aspects that we are particularly interested in here: the effects of climate change on vegetation development and on the start of the pollen season for allergenic plants,’ Jochner-Oette says. She and her students have previously conducted studies on the urban climate and ecosystem services in Eichstätt. For example, they have documented different temperatures around the town on the basis of the developmental stages of pea plants, studied pollution by examining lichen on trees, and investigated how buildings affect changes in temperature.

In addition to the data collected by the weather station and the phenological observations, another new asset is the pollen trap that has been installed on the roof of the canteen on the Eichstätt campus. This device sucks in ten liters of air per minute. The pollen in this air is caught on an adhesive strip, which will be examined once a week under a microscope to determine the types of pollen and the number of grains. ‘In combination with the data from the weather station, this will allow us to make predictions on the progression of the pollen season and to document its progression,’ explains Jochner-Oette, whose research interests also include the development of allergenic plants and pollen dispersal.

Selected measurements from the weather station are displayed on the KU website’s start page. In the future they will also be shown on monitors around campus. Detailed data on all of the parameters and monthly overviews of the local weather are available at www.ku.de/wetter.