Max Planck Gesellschaft


Note: Since 2019, D. Feist has been affiliated with Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany. The pages are not updated any more.

Dietrich Feist
Research Scientist

Phone: +49 8153 283064 (external)
email: (external)

Research Focus:

Remote sensing methods for atmospheric parameters and composition

Research Interests:

My main interest is the application of remote sensing methods for the measurement of atmospheric trace gases. Many of these trace gases have characteristic spectral lines that can be observed from the ground, from an aircraft or from space. I am equally interested in

  • the different roles that these trace gases play in the atmosphere
  • the design and operation of remote sensing instruments to detect them
  • the spectroscopy of the trace gas molecules

Since I have spent several hundred flight hours on board of research planes, I am also interested in all kinds of airborne atmospheric research.

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Research Activities:

During my PhD work I started with the analysis of microwave measurements of ozone, chlorine monoxide and water vapor in the mesosphere and stratosphere from the space shuttle. As a postdoc, I used microwave radiometers to measure stratospheric water vapor from the ground and from an aircraft.

As the group leader of the Atmospheric Remote Sensing group my main project is a ground-based Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer that we use to measure various greenhouse gases like CO2, CH4, CO, N2O, and many others in the atmosphere. The instrument measures absorption spectral lines from the trace gas molecules by looking at the sun. From the measured spectra, the total column concentration of the trace gases can be derived with great accuracy. The instrument has been set up for long term observations on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean in 2012.

Besides the passive remote sensing of trace gases, we also started to use active remote sensing methods for atmospheric parameters. One project is the evaluation of ceilometers to measure atmospheric mixing layer height in the context of the Integrated Carbon Observing System (ICOS), a future network of measurement stations to monitor the European carbon cycle.

Since 2010, I have also been an associate editor for the open access journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques.

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Current Projects:

  • calibration and validation of the TROPOMI instrument on the ESA Sentinel-5P satellite
  • development of rugged optical mirrors for very harsh environments
  • operation of the first equatorial TCCON station on Ascension Island.
  • mixing height retrievals from ceilometers in the ICOS-INWIRE EU project.
  • FTIR side-by-side measurements at the University of Wollongong, Australia, from May to October 2010.
  • validation of several European FTIR instruments with aircraft in-situ measurements from a Learjet. The campaign was part of the European infrastructure project IMECC.

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Scientific Sojourns:

  • Visiting Professor at the Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Canada, 2015
  • University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia, 2010
  • Data Assimilation Research Centre (DARC), University of Reading, United Kingdom, 2004
  • Communications Research Laboratory (CRL), Tokyo, Japan, 2003
  • Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington DC, U.S.A., 1995

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Selected Presentations:

For general audiences:

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Expertise and Experience:

  • Infrared measurements and molecular spectroscopy
  • Python programming
  • PHP programming
  • TeX and LaTeX
  • MySQL (and other SQL) databases
  • Campbell data logger and PakBus programming (see my PyPak project)
  • Linux/Unix system administration and networking
  • Cryptography
  • Handling remote stations
  • Satellite communications
  • Microwave and HF technology (1 to 600 GHz)
  • Stratospheric science
  • Aircraft operation and measurements
  • Atmospheric water vapor measurements
  • Inverse theory (retrieval of data from indirect measurements)
  • Tropical and polar experience

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