New step for Kiwi-German scientific relations

A long-standing international scientific partnership is being celebrated in Central Otago today.

A long-standing international scientific partnership was being celebrated in Central Otago this week.

This relationship was cemented last year with a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions, NIWA and the Leibniz University of Hannover.

Lauder specialises in measuring ozone, radiation, greenhouse gases, and other atmospheric meaurements, and is home to wide range of world-class instruments, including several instruments owned by Hannover University, Germany.

Yesterday German deputy ambassador Dr Thomas Henzschel  visited Lauder accompanied by Professor Gunther Seckmeyer from Hannover University to recognise the importance of the collaboration. For more than 25 years, he has worked with NIWA’s atmospheric research station at Lauder, near Alexandra, on global radiation research. NIWA atmosphere and climate principal scientist Dr Olaf Morgenstern said the ongoing collaboration had resulted in some important discoveries.

“The partnership was initially driven by depletion of the ozone layer and to monitor long-term changes in UV.

“We have established that in summer UV levels are 40-50 per cent larger at 45°S in the Southern Hemisphere than they are at the corresponding latitude in the Northern Hemisphere.

“We know that the ozone layer is thinner here and there are fewer aerosols, but what we suspect is that for some reason clouds are different in the two hemispheres. Such hemispheric differences in cloud properties are amongst the critical problems in international climate modelling which limit our understanding of climate change.”

More research on these differences is planned as part of the partnership and evaluating the positive and negative aspects of the differences in human exposure to the radiation from the sun. There are also plans for academic exchanges and the sharing of research equipment.

The joint research may also be expanded into the Southern Ocean, using ship voyages, to cover this region at the forefront of current scientific interest.

It is expected Dr Henzschel’s visit will be reciprocated by a visit to Leibniz University by the New Zealand ambassador to Germany.