Lauder atmospheric research station

NIWA's research station at Lauder in Central Otago specialises in measuring CFCs, ozone, UV levels and greenhouse gases and has a wide range of world-class instruments and research scientists.


NIWA's atmospheric research station situated at Lauder (35 kilometres from Alexandra in New Zealand's South Island) is well known throughout the international atmospheric research community. Clear skies and geographical isolation makes it perfect for observing atmospheric chemistry and radiation. The station specialises in measuring CFCs, Ozone, UV light levels and greenhouse gases and has a wide range of world class instruments. There are approximately 9 staff working at our Lauder research centre.

NIWA's Research at Lauder

Most of the measurements at the Lauder station use absorptions of short wavelength solar radiation, or longer wavelength radiation emitted by the earth’s atmosphere.

The most notable exceptions to this are two complementary methods to measure the vertical profile of ozone. Every week, balloons are launched carrying chemical ‘in-situ’ sensors to altitudes of around 35 kilometres before descending back to the ground. These are complemented by a ground-based LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) instrument, which works like RADAR, but instead of using radio waves, it emits beams of pulsed laser light vertically to altitudes of around 100 kilometres. A small fraction of the light is backscattered by air, and is collected by a telescope. The concentrations of ozone (and also aerosols) can be deduced as functions of altitude from the tiny time-delay between sending the output beam and receiving the scattered beam. We also take measurements of greenhouse gases and solar radiation to international standards at Lauder.

The laser lady of Lauder from NIWA on Vimeo.

Contributions to international literature

Our scientists at Lauder publish their results widely in scientific literature, conference presentations, web pages, public lectures, and press releases. They are also actively involved in international assessments of ozone depletion, its environmental impacts, and climate change.

Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change

Lauder is one of five global charter sites in the international Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC). Consequently, it has some of the best instruments in the world for atmospheric research. Several of the state-of-the-art instruments are operated in collaboration with overseas partners.

Read about the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC) 

The measurements we provide to the NDACC help the international atmospheric research community to:

  • monitor long-term changes in atmospheric composition and radiation
  • validate and calibrate satellite sensors in this data-sparse region of the globe
  • better understand the causes and effects of ozone depletion
  • learn more about the causes and effects of climate change, and interactions between global warming and ozone depletion.



The purple beam in this photo is from a lidar (laser radar) measuring ozone above NIWA's atmospheric research station at Lauder, Central Otago. The instrument, worth NZ$2 million, was installed by the Dutch RIVM research group as part of the Network for the Detection of Stratospheric Change. [NIWA]
NIWA Lauder. [NIWA]
Measurement tools at Lauder. [NIWA]
A weather balloon at Lauder. [NIWA]