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Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
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Head: Dr. Claudio Tomasi


The Climate Change division of ISAC develops research activities concerning
  1. the atmospheric composition of the atmosphere at both tropospheric and stratospheric altitudes,
  2. the interactions between solar radiation and terrestrial atmosphere, and those between thermal radiation and atmosphere,
  3. the effects caused by the concentration changes of the minor atmospheric constituents (aerosols, clouds and gases) on the radiation balance of the surface-atmosphere system, at both surface and top-level of the atmosphere,
  4. the behaviour of the most significant climatic parameters during the past (as a consequence of radiative forcing processes),
  5. the identification of close relationships between forcings due to natural and anthropic processes and climate variability,
  6. the dynamic and meteorological aspects that can characterise the climatic conditions on regional scale, and
  7. the transport of aerosol particles and pollutants, which have very often a strong influence on the atmospheric composition of the atmosphere.
  8. Wind climatology applied to wind energy in Mediterranean area.
Examining the activities carried out in 2002, numerous basic and applied themes can be underlined. Among those based on theoretical concepts and model schemes, particular evidence can be given to the study of radiative transfer processes, related to aerosols and clouds, and to the modeling of surface reflectance and albedo characteristics for both remote sensing activities and closure studies. Numerous are the experimental activities, applied to studies on:
  • effects of aerosols and clouds on the radiation balance at the surface, in different areas of the planet,
  • radiative forcing directly produced by aerosols, stratified clouds and water vapour at the top of the atmosphere,
  • radiative properties of aerosols of various origins (desertic, volcanic, marine, continental) and fog and haze droplets,
  • absorption of solar and infrared radiation by atmospheric gases,
  • remote sensing techniques at the ground and onboard airplanes, balloons and satellites,
  • measurements and modeling of stratospheric ozone and trace gases,
  • measurements and modeling of UV solar radiation,
  • ground-level measurements of gaseous concentrations (CO2, ozone, ),
  • reconstruction and analysis of the climate in the past,
  • climatological analysis of extreme events,
  • climatology of the Mediterranean area,
  • aerosol transport modeling on regional scale,
  • transport and diffusion of pollutants and particles within the planetary boundary layer.
Activities aimed at designing new instruments and preparing advanced technological applications were also developed, concerning:
  • sun-radiometers and sun-photometers for taking measurements of direct, diffuse and global solar radiation in the visible and IR,
  • UV sun-radiometers, presenting high spectral-resolution characteristics,
  • DOAS techniques for the remote sensing of O3, NO2 and other minor gases,
  • inversion methods for inferring the size-distribution parameters of the columnar aerosols or the vertical profiles of stratospheric ozone and trace gases,
  • infrared hygrometry techniques for the determination of precipitable water from ground-based stations and airborne platforms,
  • closure techniques for the evaluation of the direct aerosol-induced radiative forcing.
On the basis of these remarks, the research themes of the Climate Change division of ISAC can be subdivided into the three following main thematic branches:
  1. Radiation in the atmosphere: radiative transfer models and remote sensing applications.
  2. Historical reconstruction of climate in the past and analysis of extreme events.
  3. Dynamic climatology.
These research activities are carried out in the Territorial Divisions of Bologna and Rome by an overall number of 27 full-time researchers and 6 technicians, while an important contribution in the field of historical recostruction of climate has been made by the Padova group.