The Lufthansa Group has been a reliable partner of climate research since 1994 and has since equipped several long-haul aircraft with special measuring instruments. In addition to carrying passengers, these aircraft are also in the service of climate research, analyzing the composition of the middle atmosphere. Lufthansa is thus making a valuable contribution to climate research, which can use these unique data to assess the performance of current atmospheric and climate models and thus their predictive power for the Earth's future climate. The special feature: Climate-relevant parameters can be recorded in the tropopause region (at an altitude of nine to twelve kilometers) with much greater accuracy and temporal resolution on board the aircraft than with satellite-based or ground-based systems.
Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the atmosphere Based on an Instrument Container
Objective: Basic research to help understand the Earth’s atmosphere.
Our contribution: The Lufthansa Group has been supporting this research project since 2004, when the Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 "D-AIHE" was equipped with a unique, 1.6-ton measuring container. Since then, about 500 measurement flights have been completed on international routes in the service of climate and atmospheric research. The long-haul aircraft has been parked since April 2020 against the backdrop of the effects of the Corona pandemic.
The Lufthansa Group will continue to support this important research project in the future and is currently converting a state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 long-haul aircraft, the "D-AIXJ," into a climate research aircraft for this purpose. The aircraft is expected to take off at the end of 2021 for its first flight in the service of climate research.
Results: To date, there have been more than 150 scientific publications and six articles in the high-ranking journals of Nature and PNAS since 2015. Particularly noteworthy are the results of the eight aerosol measurement instruments, which were able to provide contributions on the effects of volcanic ash particles or from North American wildfires on the atmosphere. In 2014, the CARIBIC flying laboratory was also able to make an important contribution to the detection of three previously undetected chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the main contributors to the so-called ozone hole in the stratosphere.
Further information from our project partners:
In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System
Objective: Develop a global measurement infrastructure to monitor the Earth’s atmosphere with the help of civil aviation.
Our contribution: The first IAGOS aircraft, the Airbus A340-300 “Viersen”, has been in deployment since 8 July 2011. That day, in cooperation with the Forschungszentrum Jülich, Lufthansa became the first airline worldwide to launch this innovative project for the long-term observation of the earth’s atmosphere during scheduled flight operations. The specially developed new instrument package is light, durable and virtually maintenance-free. In 2015, Lufthansa installed the IAGOS measuring equipment on a second aircraft. Since then, the Lufthansa Airbus A330-300 with the registration D-AIKO has collected data concerning atmospheric trace elements and cloud components at cruising altitude on each flight.
Results: In 2013, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) included the IAGOS project in its national roadmap for research infrastructure. The scientific council appointed by the BMBF believes that continuously recording atmospheric data on a global basis will make it possible to close an important knowledge gap so that more precise climate predictions can be made.
Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay
Objective: Collection of meteorological data for daily weather forecasts.
Our contribution: Since late 1999, Lufthansa aircraft have been taking measurements during flights, available worldwide to all national meteorological services and which are directly incorporated into the preparation of weather forecasts.
Results: Improvement of weather forecasting. Replacement of costly radiosonde measurements by individual national weather services.