Lauder Atmospheric Research Station
Science Centres: Atmosphere
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.
Situated 35 kilometres from Alexandra in the South Island, NIWA’s Atmospheric Research Station at Lauder is well known throughout the international research community. The clear skies and isolation makes it perfect for observing atmospheric chemistry and radiation. Lauder specialises in measuring CFCs, Ozone, UV light levels and greenhouse gases and has a wide range of world class instruments. There are approximately 20 staff working at our Lauder research centre.
NIWA's Research at Lauder
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.
Most of the measurements 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 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.
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.