Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Burger, 1953 (Fotoarchiv AFO)

For Wolfgang Burger, geographer at the University of Innsbruck, Obergurgl was the optimal place to establish a Federal Sports Centre and an Alpine Research Station. He chose three empty custom houses and opened in 1951 a centre, “with the aim to maintain alpinism, alpine skiing and science in the high mountains for guests from all over the world” (Burger 1959).


Studying maps in front of the AFO house (Fotoarchiv AFO)

The appointed curators and scientific leaders of the Alpine Research Centre increased the number of research projects in the inner Ötz valley and spent a lot of time in the collection of specimens as well as in investigations of biocoenosis and sports medicine.

Meteorological Observation Station Obergurgl (Foto: Cathleen Peer)

Since 1951 in the court of the centre also a meteorological station was established. It was operated by Meinhard Strobl for already more than 30 years. Now a new generation of meteorological observers have taken over the meteorological service.

Research area Hoher Nebelkogel, 3200 m a.s.l (Rüdiger Kaufmann)

In 1970 Dr. Walter Moser from Längenfeld was appointed as scientific assistant at the Alpine Research Centre. His experiments at the mountain “Hoher Nebelkogel” (3.200 m a.s.l.) near Sölden were outstanding and essential for the knowledge of the adaptation of plants to nival environments. In 1973 he initiated the first UNESCO “Man and Biosphere”-Project – the so-called “MAB-Project Obergurgl”. In this project scientists were working together with inhabitants of Obergurgl to generate data for modeling future scenarios of the region. In 1979 the MAB-Project was stopped due to lack of money. The mountain hut on the top of the Hoher Nebelkogel was broken down.

The big lecture hall of the University Centre Obergurgl (UZO)

From 1979 to 1999 Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gernot Patzelt assumed the management of the Alpine Research Centre and it became part of the Institute for High Mountain Research. Gernot Patzelt mainly investigated glaciers, climate history and historical landscape development.

In 2004 the leadership of both, the Federal Sports and the Alpine Research Centre, was committed to the vice rectorate of research managed by Univ.-Prof. Dr. Tilmann Märk. The buildings were altered into a new University Centre, which locates research (Alpine Research Centre), conferences and sports. After the retirement of Univ.-Prof. Patzelt the Alpine Research Centre was some years without scientific leadership. In this period the belongings were supervised by a curatorship (Martin Burtscher, Jean Nicolas Haas, Rüdiger Kaufmann, Erwin Meyer, Roland Psenner, Helmut Weichselbaumer). In 2007 the curators cleared the way for a new epoch. Mag.Mag. Eva-Maria Koch was employed as scientific coordinator. In March 2009 Univ.-Prof. Dr. Brigitta Erschbamer was nominated as scientific director. Ao.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Kaufmann was appointed as her deputy director. In February 2012 Mag.Dr. Nikolaus Schallhart took up his position as the new scientific coordinator.

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