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Top Science at Jungfraujoch

The Research Station Jungfraujoch is the highest in Europe and is the highest in the world accessible year round by public transportation. Jungfraujoch is of key importance due to its unique location and excellent infrastructure. Cutting-edge science is being carried out by an international community. About 50 projects are conducted across many disciplines that measure about 100 variables.

MeteoSwiss, Zürich

Jungfraujoch climate is also changing

Low temperatures and high winds characterize Jungfraujoch’s harsh conditions. These are permanently recorded by MeteoSwiss.

Jungfraujoch is the highest permanently manned meteorological station in Europe with observations performed since 1922. Jungfraujoch’s temperature records show:

  • the number of days with temperatures above freezing during the entire day increased by 60 % since 1961
  • a temperature increase since 1933 on the order of 1.4 °C
Long-term records help address questions of the impact of climate change on the Alps, for example:
  • sensitivity of mountain ecosystems to temperature change
  • dramatic effects of increased thawing on the stability of the permafrost

The weather in 2011

Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Université de Liège

Spectroscopy at Jungfraujoch

60 years of atmospheric and solar composition measurements

Since 1950 the University of Liège has been regularly recording the spectrum of the solar light received at Jungfraujoch to characterize the Sun's and the Earth’s atmospheric composition. State-of-the-art technology and modern data analysis have brought vast and continuous improvements in the quality and quantity of the derived information.

Long-term concentration records of substances that threaten the Earth’s ozone shield and records of the most relevant greenhouse gases are important tools to confirm the effectiveness of the

  • Montreal Protocol (protection of ozone layer)
  • Kyoto Protocol (limitation of greenhouse gas emissions)

High resolution, solar infrared Fourier Transform spectrometry. Application to the study of the Earth atmosphere

Stiftung Hochalpine Forschungsstationen Jungfraujoch und Gornergrat

History of the Research Station

The research station was completed in 1931 and the Sphinx observatory in 1937. This infrastructure serves to carry out experiments that require high altitude and alpine condi- tions.

In the first decades the research subjects were meteorology, astronomy, physiology, glaciology and radiation research. In addition, cosmic ray research contributed to two Nobel Prizes.

Today's research focuses on environmental and climate science, meteorology, radiation balance, glaciology, and cosmic rays. Jungfraujoch is a certified station in inter- nationally coordinated programs such as the

  • Global Atmosphere Watch» (GAW)
  • Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change» (NDACC)

Webseite der Stiftung HFSJG

Forschungsanstalt Empa

Atmosphere and Climate Research at Jungfraujoch

The air on Jungfraujoch — far above and far away from local air polluters — contains greenhouse gases and other pollutants in concentrations that reflect the current general state of the atmosphere over Central Europe.

Therefore long-term continuous measurements on Jungfraujoch allow to

  • detect changes in the composition of the air
  • assess trends in air pollution
  • investigate the long-range transport of trace gases
  • verify European greenhouse gas emissions.

Cutting-edge instruments provide precise data — even for extremely low concentrations. Thus, measurements up here on Jungfraujoch also provide early warnings for new industrially-produced, harmful substances.

Empa’s activities at Jungfraujoch started in 1973. Today, more than 70 different gases are continuously measured.

Air pollution Monitoring Network (NABEL)

Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institut

Climate relevant aerosol research

Aerosols are microscopic particles in the air. They can be natural (pollen, dust, volcanic ash, sea salt) and man-made (soot and other aerosols formed by industry, traffic, biomass burning).

Aerosols are very small: 10 to 10’000 times smaller than the width of a human hair (0.05 millimeter).

They are present everywhere around the globe and here at Jungfraujoch as well.

In a 1×1×1 cm cube of air we typically find:

  • in the Arctic: less than 100 particles
  • at Jungfraujoch: 100 – 1’000 particles
  • in rural areas: 1’000 – 10’000 particles
  • in urban areas: up to 1’000’000 particles

Because they are so small they enter our respiratory system where some are harmful to our health.

Aerosols are also important because they influence the Earth’s climate in many ways:

  • they absorb and scatter sunlight and
  • they are essential for the formation of clouds

The Global Atmosphere Watch Aerosol Program at the Jungfraujoch