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Research Activities

The Group for general Meteorlogy and Climatology is dealing with the analysis of meteorological fields, especially in the Mountains, and thermodynamics and radiation budget in sink holes. Also, micronet studies have been carried out and are analyzed.

Data analysis of the atmosphere over complex terrain

An objective analysis system has been developed at the department, called VERA (Vienna Enhanced Resolution Analysis). This tool consists of a quality control module, a downscaling module and a spatialisation module. The unique feature of the system is the functuioning of the system even without any first guess information. Hence it is optimally suited for (prognostic) model validation. It is presently used operationally at the Aeronautical Met Service in Austria (AustroControl), MeteoSwiss and at the Canadian Meteorological Service (Environment Canada) for the Olympic Winter Games.

The system has been applied to three-hourly surface data in Europe for the last 35 years, which permits a series of interesting evaluation of the regional climate and its trends. There are plans to further refine the methodology and to apply it to other mountainous areas of the world in the future.

Dorninger, M., S. Schneider, R. Steinacker, 2008: On the interpolation of precipitation data over complex terrain. Meteor Atmos Phys, 101, 175-189.

Steinacker, R., M. Ratheiser, B. Bica, B. Chimani, M. Dorninger, W. Gepp, C. Lotteraner, S. Schneider, S. Tschannett, 2006: Downscaling Meteorological information over complex terrain with the fingerprint technique by using a priori knowledge, Mon Wea Rev, 134,


Dynamics, Thermodynamics and radiation budget studies in sink holes

The meteorological study in sinkholes permits an insight in the physics of atmospheric processes under controlled conditions. Under stable conditions the air mass is being conserved  in a sinkhole and with the existence of a snow cover the atmosphere is also thermally isolated. Hence the energy and mass budget can be studied like in a laboratory. Several field campaigns have been carried out with surface instrumentation and vertical profiling. Long term data from sink holes may be used to detect a climate signal due to global warming. Cooperation with international research groups in this field has been established and shall be continued.

Steinacker, R. C.D.Whiteman, M.Dorninger, B. Pospichal, S. Eisenbach, A.M.Holzer, P. Weihs, E. Mursch-Radlgruber, K. Baumann, 2007: A sinkhole field experiment in the Eastern Alps, Bull Amer Meteor Soc, 88, 701-716.


Micronet studies to investigate convective systems over complex terrain

The availability of more than 100 automatic meteorological stations allows the collection of temporally and spatially high resolution meteorological data for different purposes. One application is the detection of convective precipitation. These data can be used to compare radar derived precipitation. An other application is to derive wind fields in complex terrain. This allows to establish a correlation with e. g. snow depth. A further application is to collect an observational data set for validation of very high resolution atmospheric models.

Wulfmeyer, V., A. Behrendt, H.-S. Bauer, C. Kottmeier, U. Corsmeier, A. Blyth, G. Craig, U. Schumann, M. Hagen, S. Crewell, P. Di Girolamo, C. Flamant, M. Miller, A. Montani, S. Mobbs, E. Richard, M.W. Rotach, M. Arpagaus, H. Russchenberg, P. Schlüssel, M. König,, V. Gärtner, R. Steinacker, M. Dorninger, D.D. Turner, T. Weckwerth, A. Hense, and C. Simmer, 2008: The Convective and Orographically-induced Precipitation Study: A Research and Development Project of the World Weather Research Program for improving quantitative precipitation forecasting in low-mountain regions. Bull Amer Meteor Soc 89, 1477-1486.



MetGIS (http://www.univie.ac.at/AMK/metgis) is a Java-based, combined Meteorological and Geographic Information System, with a specific emphasis on snow and mountain weather. This prediction scheme is constantly extended and has been developed within the framework of a number of interdisciplinary international research projects. A principal focus of the system is the automated production of high-resolution, downscaled forecast maps of meteorological parameters like precipitation and fresh snow amounts, the snow limit, the form of precipitation, wind and temperature. These maps are accessible in realtime via an easy-to-use, partly password-protected web interface. 

Spreitzhofer, G., Norte, F. (2008). Desarrollo de MetGIS, un sistema combinado de información geografica, meteorológica y de cobertura de nieve de alta resolución, para la región andina. Meteorologica (Argentina, in print).



Department of Meteorology and Geophysics
University of Vienna

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1090 Vienna

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Lastupdate: 09.05.2016 - 19:17