University of Innsbruck


TEAMx-UIBK in a nutshell

  • Five major research topics are defined that will contribute to the overall TEAMx objectives of improving our understanding of transport and exchange processes over mountains and of improving weather and climate models.
  • Permanent and mobile observational infrastructure amounting to approximately EUR 4M will be operated during the TEAMx Observational Campaign contributing to the TEAMx objective of conducting a joint experiment.
  • Multiple pre-campaigns are being conducted to test instrumentation and measurement strategies for the TEAMx Observational Campaign and to contribute to the overall TEAMx objectives.
  • Modeling activities range from km-scale climate simulations over mesoscale weather simulations and LES to DNS.
  • More than 10 TEAMx projects have already been funded through national and international funding agencies with a total funding of approximately EUR 2.5M.
  1. Introduction
  2. Main research topics
  3. Financial summary - funding and available resources
  4. Observations
    1. Permanent UIBK infrastructure
    2. TEAMx Observational Campaign
    3. Pre-campaigns
  5. Modeling
  6. Machine learning
  7. Third-party funded projects
  8. People

1. Introduction

TEAMx is an international research programme that brings together multiple research groups from around the world to study transport and exchange processes in the atmosphere over mountains. The overall objectives of TEAMx are (i) to improve our understanding of exchange processes that occur at multiple scales in the atmosphere over mountainous terrain, (ii) to improve the representation of these processes in numerical weather and climate prediction models, (iii) to collect a unique dataset during a coordinated, one-year long field campaign in the Alps, the TEAMx Observational Campaign (TOC), that can be used for objectives (i) and (ii), and (iv) to provide support to weather and climate service providers. A summary of the motivation for TEAMx and its scientific goals can be found in the TEAMx White Paper (Serafin et al. 2020) and in Rotach et al. (2022)

The University of Innsbruck (UIBK) is among the major contributors to TEAMx, even though it does not have a single TEAMx project financed by one funding agency. Different research activities supported through both third-party and institutional funding are being conducted in a coordinated manner to address the TEAMx objectives (i) to (iii). The purpose of this document is therefore to provide an overview of these coordinated research efforts and the main research questions to be addressed. With one of the TEAMx Target Areas for the TOC being in the Inn Valley (IVTA), contributions to observational activities from both permanent and experimental instrumentation are abundant and will importantly contribute to objective (iii). Several pre-campaigns have already been conducted or are planned in the IVTA before the TOC, which is planned for autumn 2024 to autumn 2025. Numerical modelling activities are similarly conducted within third-party funded projects as well as institutional activities (e.g., student thesis projects) on short time scales, as well as high-resolution (km-scale) regional climate simulations over mountainous terrain, which are targeted towards model validation and improvement using observational data (objective (ii)) and towards process understanding (objective (i)).

The contributing individual projects are briefly outlined and the involved funding and personnel resources are summarized. The same information is provided for the contributed permanent resources. Altogether, this document provides a synopsis of the contribution to TEAMx by the members of the University of Innsbruck, thus forming an umbrella project termed TEAMx-UIBK. As such, this document is meant to be updated as new proposals are being written and funded, new activities are being planned, and new ideas emerge.

2. Main research topics

Mountain-boundary layer (MoBL): improving our understanding of the temporal development and spatial structure of the MoBL and the processes affecting it. Research topics include, e.g., valley- and slope-wind circulations, the mountain-plains wind system, the vertical structure of the MoBL, the definition and assessment of the MoBL top, nocturnal cold-air pools, and submeso motions.

Surface-atmosphere exchange in mountainous terrain: improving our understanding of the exchange of momentum, heat, moisture, and other atmospheric components between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere over mountainous terrain. Research topics include, e.g., the surface-energy balance, the impact of different terrain and land-cover characteristics on the exchange, and air quality in urban areas.

Atmospheric turbulence in the MoBL: improving our understanding of turbulence characteristics in the MoBL and of the processes determining these characteristics. Research topics include, e.g., turbulence anisotropy, similarity scaling, submeso-scale generated turbulence, and stable boundary layers over glaciated and non-glaciated surfaces.

Mountain climate: improving our understanding of the processes by which mountains are shaping regional climates. Research topics include, e.g., high-resolution (km-scale) regional climate modeling, in particular assessing the accuracy and reliability of high-resolution climate simulations and the potential for improvement through increased resolution and more advanced physics representations.

Modeling the MoBL: (i) improving the representation of the MoBL and its processes in numerical weather and climate models and (ii) using numerical models to improve our understanding of the MoBL and its processes. Modeling activities include, e.g., high-resolution weather and climate simulations over high-mountain regions, mesoscale model intercomparison and evaluation studies for the MoBL, building-resolving LES, idealized ultra-high resolution LES and DNS studies, development of new parameterizations of surface-atmosphere exchange over mountainous terrain using physically-based approaches and machine learning, and high-resolution data analysis and re-analysis making use of the TOC observations.

3. Financial summary - funding and available resources

  • Research projects: approx. EUR 2.5M from national and international funding agencies
  • Permanent observational infrastructure: approx. EUR 3M from university-internal and external funding
  • Mobile instrumentation: approx. EUR 1M from university-internal and external funding sources
  • Personnel dedicated to TEAMx/TOC: approx. EUR 800k from university-internal and external funding sources

4. Observations

4.1. Permanent UIBK infrastructure

FAIR (Forest-Atmosphere-Interaction-Research) site: Located about 30 km west of Innsbruck in a forest dominated by 12-m tall Scots pine (Pinus sylvstris), the site includes among others vertical profiles of 3D sonic anemometers, gas analyzers, and temperature and humidity sensors on a 30-m high tower; a 2-m high tower providing the surface-energy balance components and CO2 fluxes in the understory; and a walk-up tower to access the tree crowns. In total, over 100 sensors are operated continuously, measuring over 150 variables. [Contact: Albin Hammerle (]

Hintereisferner Open Air Laboratory is a glacier research site that consists of two automatic weather stations with four-component radiation measurements and one of them including a 3D sonic anemometer and a terrestrial laser scanner located just above the Hintereisferner glacier. [Contact: Rainer Prinz (]

Innsbruck Atmospheric Observatory (IAO): A tower on the rooftop of an approximately 35-m high building near the center of Innsbruck is instrumented with multiple 3d anemometers for turbulence and trace gas profiles. The top inlet is equipped for sampling a number of atmospheric gases and aerosols (e.g., NMVOC, NOx, O3, CH4, CO2, CO, UFP and PM1). Some of the measurements can be extended into the urban street canyon along a profile of sonic anemometers. Surface observations are complemented by a Doppler wind lidar and a temperature and humidity profiler operated on the rooftop to provide continuous vertical profiles of wind, temperature, and humidity. [Contact: Thomas Karl (]

i-Box: Seven eddy-covariance stations, each instrumented with a 3D sonic anemometer and infrared gas analyzer at least at one height, are deployed about 20 km east of Innsbruck. The locations cover different topographic (valley floor, mountain top, north- and south-facing sidewalls, steep and moderate slopes) and different land-use (grassland, agricultural, dwarf pine) characteristics. Six of the stations are full surface-energy balance stations with four-component radiation and ground heat flux measurements. [Contact: Lena Pfister (]

TEAMx Overview Map
TEAMx-UIBK permanent infrastructure

4.2. TEAMx Observational Campaign

Additional instrumentation that will be deployed during the TOC

  • Instrumentation owned by the Department of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences will be deployed during the TOC by members of the department as part of one or more TEAMx projects, including a scanning wind lidar, a profiling wind lidar, 2 mobile surface-energy balance stations (each equipped with one Irgason and 2 sonic anemometers), 3 additional sonic anemometers, 10 mobile weather stations, 8 nano-barometers, a small aperture scintillometer, a distributed temperature sensing system (loan from KIT), and a thermal camera. [Contact: Manuela Lehner (]
  • Flight hours and approximately 20 radiosoundings during the summer EOP will be financed through project Unicorn. [Contact: Ivana Stiperski (]
  • Air-quality measurements in Innsbruck throughout the whole TOC are funded  by a current FWF and an ESA project. [Contact: Thomas Karl (].
  • Additional ozone measurements throughout the whole TOC at the FAIR site are anticipated. [Contacts: Thomas Karl (], Georg Wohlfahrt (]

Personnel dedicated to the TOC

  • A postdoc, a PhD student and a technician funded through project Unicorn will help with field work during the TOC. [PI I. Stiperski]
  • A  postdoc (50%, 1 year) is funded through project INTERFACE [UIBK-PI M. Rotach]
  • Two university-funded postdocs will provide field assistance during the TOC. [Contact: M. Rotach]

4.3. Pre-campaigns

Preliminary field campaigns that are being conducted in the TEAMx target areas before the TOC.

PC22 took place in summer 2022, with measurement sites at Kolsass and surroundings, in the Weer Valley (Nafingalm), in Innsbruck, and at the exit of the Inn Valley near Kufstein and Brannenburg. The goals of PC22 were mainly to test (new) instruments and measurement sites for the TOC. Activities by the TEAMx-UIBK group included a lidar intercomparison study together with GeoSphere Austria, distributed temperatures sensing measurements, observations of the valley atmosphere in a small tributary valley together with DLR using AWS and temperature/humidity sensors, testing of a new Raman lidar by KIT and deployment of a co-located Doppler lidar. [UIBK PIs: A. Gohm, L. Pfister]

A measurement campaign will take place in summer 2023 at Hintereisferner to study the heterogeneity over the glacier surface and flow interactions between glaciated and non-glaciated areas. Measurements are planned with a turbulence tower equipped with sonic anemometers at multiple levels, thermal camera measurements, and UAVs. [UIBK PIs L. Nicholson, I. Stiperski]

As part of the ISM project, the Kolsass valley bottom site will be intensively investigated using Distributed Temperature Sensing and mini-sonic anemometers in winter 2023/24. These intense observations will be objectively analyzed using a new framework tailored to complex distributed data in order to understand the interactions between submeso structures and turbulence and the role complex terrain plays in modulating these interactions. [PI K. Lapo]

As part of the INTERFACE project to study the surface-energy balance in the Inn Valley and Adige Valley, UAV flights are planned at some of the i-Box sites by the project collaborators from EURAC to test UAV measurements and study the role of advection in the non-closure of the surface-energy budget. [UIBK PI M. Rotach]

5. Modeling

As a part of the HighResMountains, two high-resolution data sets are compared - dynamically downscaled km-scale simulations versus ÖKS statistically downscaled i.e. bias adjusted data. The main goal is to assess how are extreme events, processes related to them and their changes with further warming, presented in these datasets. [PI: N. Ban]

As a part of the kmMountains project, COSMO simulations are performed with a horizontal grid spacing of 2.2 and 1.1 km over two mountainous regions for multi-decadal periods in the present and future climate. The main goal is to evaluate the performance of the high-resolution models over complex topography and assess how furter warming of the atmosphere will affect the mountain climate. [PI N. Ban]

As part of the ASTER project WRF simulations with a grid spacing of 1 km are performed for the Inn Valley to evaluate the impact of the land-use dataset, boundary-layer parameterizations, initial soil fields, and the model evaluation strategy on the model’s representation of the surface-energy balance and the valley atmosphere. [UIBK PI: M. Lehner]

A subgroup of the MoBL WG co-led by A. Gohm is performing an intercomparison of mesoscale models for a case study of thermally driven flows in the Inn Valley.

A subgroup of the MoBL WG led by M. Lehner is performing an intercomparison of mesoscale models for a case study of cold-air pool formation in the Inn Valley.

Several case studies at kilometer and hectometer resolution are performed within four Master’s theses supervised by A. Gohm to study the impact of model resolution, boundary layer parameterization and tributary valleys on the representation of MoBL processes.

As part of the SCHiRM project, building-resolving simulations will be conducted for the Innsbruck Atmospheric Observatory using PALM. Model output will be compared with observations and the model will be used to study the urban and orographic effects on atmospheric conditions in the city. Mesoscale model performance (including WRF with the multi-layer urban canopy parameterisation) will also be considered. [PI H. Ward]

As part of the Unicorn project, the group led by I. Stiperski will perform ultra-high resolution LES and DNS to examine the influence of complex terrain on turbulence characteristics and surface-exchange processes. [PI: I. Stiperski]

6. Machine learning

Machine learning approaches will be used together with the measurements during TOC, HEFEX II and high-resolution simulations, to study and develop parametrizations of surface-atmosphere exchange and general turbulence characteristics. [PI: I. Stiperski]

One of the major challenges in machine learning is data engineering and data-driven model discovery. Developing methods that objectively extracts useful features from complex data is the primary focus of the ISM project. [PI: K. Lapo]

7. Third-party funded projects

ASTER is a collaborative research project between the University of Innsbruck, the University of Trento, and the University of Bolzano. The objective is to evaluate the performance of turbulence and land-surface parameterizations in a numerical weather prediction model over complex Alpine terrain and to quantify the model's sensitivity to potential errors in these parameterizations.

Funding: EGTC European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino, Austrian Science Fund FWF - IPN 101-32.

UIBK PI: M. Lehner; People: G. Simonet, M. Rotach

Although the total global CH4 budget is relatively well understood, the contributions of individual sources to CH4 emissions are poorly constrained. Recent data for example suggest significantly higher emissions. In the project CH4IAO we study urban methane emissions based on direct eddy covariance measurements. Additionally, chemical tracers are measured allowing to obtain chemical fingerprints of urban CH4 sources. These measurements will provide a top down assessment of urban methane fluxes in the urban core of Innsbruck, and will help to improve our understanding of urban methane emissions. 

PI: Thomas Karl

The objective of this project is a detailed process-based understanding of the uptake of carbonyl sulfide (COS) by a Scots Pine forest in order to narrow down the uncertainties that still surround the application of COS as a proxy for gross primary productivity. To this end we combine eddy covariance COS and CO2 flux measurements with chamber measurements on soils, branches, stems and needles and a process-based multi-layer canopy model. Field activities take place at the FAIR site.

PI: G. Wohlfahrt

The main goal of HighResMountains is to gain a deeper understanding of extreme events and their processes and changes with further warming of the atmosphere over the Alps. The specific focus will be on precipitation (rain and snow) and mountain wind systems (like foehn) which will be analyzed using different high-resolution datasets - more specifically CORDEX FPS Alps and ÖKS15.

PI: N. Ban; People: A. Medvedova, M. Rotach

INTERFACE is a collaborative project between the University of Innsbruck, University of Trento and EURAC with the objective to investigate the surface energy balance (non-)closure in highly complex terrain and the role of advection. The UIBK contribution focuses on i-Box sites and generalization for different site characteristics. 

Funding: EGTC European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino, Austrian Science Fund FWF - IPN 187-N.

UIBK PI: M. Rotach; People: M. Destro, M. Lehner

ISM is an ESPRIT project. It addresses the lack of a comprehensive analytic framework for spatially-complex geospatial data using cutting-edge applied math to robustly identify distinct motions at overlapping scales. The new framework will be used to understand the interactions between turbulence, submeso structures, and complex terrain using Distributed Temperature Sensing. 

Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF): ESP-214

PI: K. Lapo

The overarching goals of kmMountains are to (i) better understand mountain climate and extreme events associated with mountains, (ii) to improve our models for the simulation of climate (and weather) over complex orography, and (iii) to better understand how mountainous areas will be affected by further warming of the atmosphere. To do so, COSMO simulations will be performed with a horizontal grid spacing of 2.2 and 1.1 km over two mountainous regions for multi-decadal periods in the present and future climate. The main focus of our project is on two regions: the Himalayas and the adjacent Tibetan Plateau on the one hand and the European Alps, on the other hand, thus enabling us to transfer the knowledge from one region to another. 

PI: N. Ban; People: E. Collier, A. Medvedova, M. Rotach

In this doc:funds project two PhD theses will investigate the forest -atmosphere exchange of biogenic volatile organic compounds and use a multiple constraints approach to gross primary productivity. Field activities take place at the FAIR site.

TEAMx-UIBK PIs: T. Karl, G. Wohlfahrt

The SCHiRM project aims to devise a modelling strategy that can represent the impact of the surrounding orography (e.g. the Inn Valley and tributary valleys) and the urban envrionment (e.g. building form and materials) on atmospheric conditions in the city of Innsbruck. Simulations at various scales (down to 1-m grid boxes) will be evaluated against a range of observations and provide new insights into near surface turbulence in this extremely complex setting.

PI: H. Ward

The objective of TExSMBL is to analyze the relative contributions of mountain-specific processes to turbulence production and damping in the stable boundary layer of the Inn Valley, analyzing i-Box data. Turbulent exchange is typically weak and intermittent under stable conditions, but wind shear associated with slope and valley winds can contribute to turbulence production even under otherwise undisturbed conditions.

Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF): V 791-N

PI: M. Lehner

Unicorn focuses on understanding  turbulence characteristics over complex terrain and glaciated surfaces to develop a novel similarity scaling framework and parametrizations allowing correct representation of turbulence and surface-atmosphere exchange over realistic surfaces. The project uses experimental data, idealized ultra-high resolution modelling and machine learning to explore how different aspects of terrain complexity impact turbulence characteristics, especially turbulence anisotropy. The project funding covers the aircraft measurements during the summer TOC as well as the HEFEX II campaign.

PI: I. Stiperski

8. People

Nach oben scrollen