International experts discuss Amazon research

25. Juni 2018
Scientists from Germany and Brazil met last week at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena to discuss the course of actions for their joint research in the Amazon, centered at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO). Scientists use this international research facility to investigate the role of the Amazon forests in global biogeochemical cycles and how they are influenced by climate change.

Almost 60 scientists from 20 primarily Brazilian and German research institutions and universities gathered in Jena from June 18 to 20 for the ATTO-Workshop, which this year was hosted by the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry and its managing director and German ATTO co-ordinator Prof. Susan Trumbore. The purpose of the workshop was to jointly compile the most urgent scientific questions that should be addressed within the coming years.

The Amazon is the largest continuous tropical forest on earth and is as such of global significance: it has an enormous influence on the water cycle through evaporation and stabilizes the climate. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory was constructed as an interdisciplinary research platform in the middle of the Amazon basin to produce new data, for example on the chemistry of the atmosphere or the budget of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Its heart is a steel guyed mast with a height of 325 meters, making it the tallest free-standing construction in South America. Measurements at ATTO will help to gain a better understanding of global processes and cycles. The findings will improve our insight into the climate system and climate-model predictions.

A large data set has been compiled already since observations at ATTO began in 2012. “But with each question answered, multiple new ones arise”, Susan Trumbore tells. “To channel the new, excellent research ideas, set priorities and be able to make the best possible use of the resources at the site, it is of immense value to meet in person, coordinate the joint research and strengthen personal relationships”. 20 scientists from research institutions in Brazil, among them the National Institute for Amazon Research (INPA) and the University of the Amazon State (UEA) in Manaus even braved an 18-hour flight to attend. In the end, all participants agreed that it was worth it. The results of the stimulating discussions within the working groups will now be summarized in a new science plan and expedition license in the coming weeks.

Additionally, an important innovation was presented during the workshop. All scientific data collected at ATTO will be made publically available in a data portal ( With this, the scientists are improving the access to research data, which is nowadays demanded in many countries. Additionally, they hope to simplify collaborations within the research community and to ultimately gain more fruitful insights from the data.

Dr. Iris Möbius
Webmaster / Outreach officer ATTO
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Tel.: 03641 57671
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