Logo Universität Bayreuth

University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 082/2023 - 14 June 2023

High up: Installation of a new module for the collection of ultrafine particles on the Zugspitze

On Germany’s highest mountain, known as the Zugspitze, the air is thin and contains very few pollutants. Ultrafine particles only exist there when they are transported through the atmosphere over long distances. A research team from the University of Bayreuth led by Prof. Dr. Anke Nölscher has now installed a new module for collecting ultrafine particles at the summit of the Zugspitze. The sampling at the Schneefernerhaus Environmental Research Station and the subsequent laboratory analyses are part of the Bavarian project network "BayUFP - Measurement, Characterization and Evaluation of Ultrafine Particles", which is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection.

Elisabeth Eckenberger, doctoral student in the research team at the University of Bayreuth, installing the ultrafine particles collector on the sampling platform at the Schneefernerhaus Environmental Research Station. 

Ultrafine particulate matter is the smallest fraction of fine particulate matter and contains particles that are 100 nanometers or less in size. The particles can be a risk to human health, but also affect cloud formation and incoming solar radiation. "It is an exciting and challenging question which ultrafine particles make their way up to the Zugspitze, and how these differ from particles in lower air layers. That is why we have now installed a module for collecting ultrafine particles at Schneefernerhaus, which we recently developed. In the future, this will be used for measurements at very different locations in Bavaria," says Prof. Dr. Anke Nölscher, Junior Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Bayreuth.

In cooperation with Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Bayreuth scientists will analyze the chemical composition of the samples collected on the Zugspitze in the laboratory. The chemical fingerprints are expected to contain valuable information on the formation, distribution and effects of ultrafine particles. As a result, they will provide information about the potential risks that ultrafine particles can pose to the climate, human beings and their environment. Research into ultrafine particles with the aim of achieving a significantly better risk assessment than is currently possible is the focus of the Bavarian project network "BayUFP", which was founded in 2020.

The sample collector at the Schneefernerhaus Environmental Research Station, Germany's highest research station. Photo: Elisabeth Eckenberger.

So far, the researchers have worked on the quality and comparability of the methods for collecting and analysing samples. They have developed two modules, which were set up side by side in Augsburg and collected samples simultaneously. While one of these modules continues to be active at the Augsburg site as a reference instrument, the other module will be transported to various locations. Chemical fingerprints of ultra-fine particles will thus be determined in different environments. The choice of locations ranges from urban to rural, from Swabia to the Fichtelgebirge, from Munich Airport to Hohenpeißenberg, and high up to the Zugspitze.

Further information:
The Atmospheric Chemistry Research Team at the University of Bayreuth:

The Bavarian Project Network BayUFP:

The Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus:

Prof. Dr. Anke Nölscher.

Prof. Dr. Anke Nölscher

Junior Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5723
E-mail: Anke.Noelscher@uni-bayreuth.de

Christian Wißler, Wissenschaftskommunikation

Christian Wißler

Deputy Press & PR Manager, Research Communication
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356
E-mail: christian.wissler@uni-bayreuth.de