Tracking the gases in the Amazon Rainforest

The vast Amazon rainforest has an extraordinary impact on the planet producing about half of all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Now a mast 325 metres high which is taller than the Eiffel Tower has been erected deep in the heart of the forest – among jaguars, snakes and giant trees – to monitor chemical changes in the air that could shed new light on global climate change. The Amazon Tower Observatory (ATTO) is a joint project between Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research and Germany’s Max Planck Institute.

“This tower is looking for mainly greenhouse gases like CO2, methane,N20 and ozone which are heating up the atmosphere and these gases are exchanged with the surface at the ground. From these gases I would like to learn about the quantity coming out of the system, of the forest or which are getting in. I would like to understand how this exchange is working,” explained Jurgen Kessemelmeier German Coordinator of the ATTO project.

All the data collected by the tower – which is expected to be operating for at least 30 years – will be incorporated into models to predict climate development and could influence the decisions taken by the government about environmental policies. It’s expected the tower will be fully operative by the start of 2017.

“In two or three decades we will be monitoring the effects of the global climate changes – like the concentration of carbon gas in the atmosphere that has been, and will keep increasing the temperature of the planet that has been rising and has increased here in the Amazon,” said Antonio Manzi Brazilian Coordinator of the ATTO project

The research work does not come cheap. The project which was launched in 2009 is topping the eight point four million euro mark for the first five years of its operation. Those costs are being shared by Germany and Brazil.

More information on the ATTO project

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