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Gobabeb Research & Training Centre

Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology

Researchers at Gobabeb have access to the huge gravel plains as well as the sand sea, far away from anthropogenic sources. Thus Gobabeb is an outstanding location for various atmospheric studies. Basic meteorological data have been recorded since the beginning of research at Gobabeb 50 years ago. Various meteorological research activities have taken place since then. The wind driven dunes were investigated, the fog harvest by grass and beetles was measured, the precipitation in the gravel plains is measured, trace gas measurements are performed and meteorological stations have been operated in the gravel plains and dunes for years in local and international research programs. Since 1962, Gobabeb has been a first order weather station that provides synoptic (i.e. standard weather data) as well as climatologic data at the standard defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Both datasets are fed into the operational global weather network. Currently the Gobabeb station measures the following parameters: pressure, temperature (min, max), humidity, rainfall, soil temperature at four levels, soil moisture, leaf wetness, evapo-transpiration, solar radiation, sunshine duration, wind speed and direction and horizontal visibility.

Since 1997, Gobabeb has been taking air samples for shipping to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) where they are analysed for CO2 content. Despite the isolation of Gobabeb, the atmospheric CO2 content parallels that of the global measurements. These measurements continue although a gap of five years caused by 9/11 mars the overall data set.

Gobabeb is one of four globally unique validation sites for surface parameters derived from satellites since 2007. The location at the homogeneous gravel plains allows the validation of data derived from large (several km) pixels. Land Surface Temperature is the primary parameter of the validation activities. Albedo (i.e. how “white” is the surface) and the down welling solar and thermal radiance were added recently. The validation is operated by KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Folke Olesen). The evaluation is funded by EUMETSAT.

Since 2009, micrometeorological measurements have been carried out by the University of Basel (Roland Vogt), investigating surface energy balance and turbulent and exchange processes . How is net radiation partitioned into soil heat flux, sensible and latent heat? The latter two, the turbulent heat fluxes, are measured directly using an eddycovariance setup. Furthermore, CO2 fluxes are detected with the same method. More information can be found here.

In 2012 a Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) station was set up, measuring shortwave and long wave radiance components. The about 50 globally distributed BSRN stations represents the top level standard of atmospheric radiation measurements and Gobabeb is one of the very few desert stations worldwide. The station was set up as a joint activity of the University of Basel, Gobabeb and KIT.

In 2011 Gobabeb’s atmospheric research efforts were bolstered by a project to measure precision trace gases, implemented by the Max Planck Institute, Jena. This project has created a remote, near-continuous, low maintenance measuring station in Gobabeb, to measure CO2, CH4, N2O, CO and O2/N2 at 21 m.a.g.l at the Namib Desert Atmospheric Observatory (NDAO).

In 2013 Gobabeb and partners launched the project FogNet, an international, BMBF-funded project within the SASSCAL (Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management) initiative. According to some climate models it is possible that a warming of the Benguela Current would cause a dramatic reduction in the production of fog which may have negative impacts on the entire, unique Namib ecosystem. FogNet is designed to study the spatial distribution of fog and comprises nine meteorological stations arranged in two transect arrays, one E-W and one N-S, which respectively cover the main coast-inland fog gradient and the 500m amsl contour where fog precipitation should be high.

To understand how fog isotopic composition changes (δ18O, δ17O and δ2H) with distance from the ocean (west-east gradient) and their temporal patterns, Dr. Lixin Wang's group at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) started utilizing FogNet infrastructure to collect fog water at all the collecting stations for isotope analyses.

Most of the atmospheric data are shared on bilateral bases with co-operating researchers - please contact us.


Our Projects are Supported By:

Namibia Geological Survey
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Swkop Uranium
Langer Heinrich
Indongo Toyota
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Finnish Embassy
Museums Association
Go Green
Wildlife Conservation Physiology
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KIT University
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