The Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (or short IMK) at KIT is one of the oldest and largest research institutions in atmospheric science in Germany. As such it benefits from a unique situation in the German academic system: KIT is at the same time a federal state university with a full-blown academic education programme and a national research lab as part of the Helmholtz Association that funds long-term, large, scientific infrastructures such as the 3-storey high cloud chamber AIDA (see right) that belongs to IMK. Research (and to a lesser degree teaching) activities take place at two locations: Campus South, in the heart of the city of Karlsruhe and right next to the baroque castle, and Campus North, in the forested areas ~10km north of the city, easily reachable by bicycle or shuttle bus.
IMK consists of four different Departments, all involved to varying degrees in student education. The oldest, the Department for Troposphere Research (TRO), is located at both Campuses and contributes most to the Meteorology programmes. It operates the extensive mobile KITcube facility to measure atmospheric parameters in and above the boundary layer (see below). KITcube has been used in international field campaigns in Arizona, Corsica, Israel and tropical Africa, often involving student research assistants from our MSc programme. TRO is also active in model development in close collaboration with the German Weather Service (DWD).
Two other IMK Departments are located at Campus North: The one for Atmospheric Trace Gases and Remote Sensing (ASF) investigates the complex links and feedbacks between climate change, natural variability, dynamics and transport, and atmospheric chemistry. Accurate measurements of atmospheric trace gases from various observational platforms (including satellites) provide the data required for modelling. The Department for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (AAF) focuses on the role of aerosols in the climate system, the hydrological cycle and the environment. AAF operates the renowned AIDA aerosol and cloud simulation chamber (see top right), participates in field campaigns and performs numerical modelling experiments.
The fourth IMK Department for Atmospheric Environmental Research (IFU) is curiously located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, at the foot of Germany’s highest mountain Zugspitze. Amongst many other topics, IFU conducts research on land-atmosphere exchanges, urban meteorology and renewable energy.
Students benefit from this rich research environment in many ways. The whole breadth of atmospheric sciences from small-scale processes in clouds to long-term climate change is taught by leading experts in their field. The MSc programme includes one year of free research, with students enjoying the freedom to choose their topic and supervisors from many different working groups. Many of our students also work as paid research and teaching assistants on a day-to-day basis or during specific field or lab campaigns.Top Picture licensed by Shutterstock