CEO-TERRA: a promise for the future of atmospheric sciences

Not a few times, do we wonder how far our knowledge has come? Certainly, there are many “hidden” secrets that affect our everyday lives and which can influence the lives of our children. Can we influence our unwritten future yet? It is obvious that for a moment we will not cease to think about the future, to try to overcome the boundaries of knowledge, to be able to create a better life.

We live in a century of speed and scientific competition, an omnipresent stimulant in every field, including environmental research. Terra is the only planet we have and we can not afford the luxury of not cherish it. Any local or regional problem can become a global problem, and any global peculiarities can affect us locally.

Knowing, understanding and controlling the state of the environment, whether we are talking about air, water, soil or vegetation, is based on the collection of data and information from the local level to the regional or global level, from the ground up to the high atmosphere and on the centralized analysis , cumulative through international programs and initiatives, to provide a user-friendly interface for politicians, populations or scientists.

Developing capacities to capture those phenomena and particularities present at the different components of the environment has been a major challenge for international decision-making authorities over the past decades. To understand interactions and changes in the atmosphere, water and soil, as well as to quantify their impact on the climate, long-term observations are needed with complex and complementary instruments, bounded between disciplines and evenly distributed on a geographic scale.

CEO terra-science-technology-102 To date, several environmental research platforms have been developed at international level and, in particular, atmospheric studies, providing analytical capabilities from the smallest detail to major processes that can lead to climate change. So platforms such as CESAR (Cabauw – Experimental Site for Atmospheric Research), Joyce (Observatory for Cloud Evolution) or CIAO (CNR-IMAA – Atmospheric Observatory) have become competitive and universally accepted sites as top infrastructures in atmospheric research and the environment and a model to be followed for other groups of researchers

In Romania, such models were not just a desideratum, they materialized in the Center for Atmospheric and Radiation Studies (MARS), which will be functional in the next three years. We can also say that everything started from a dream, an idea implanted in our consciousness, when, through various joint actions with researchers from other international academic environments, we were able to see what it means to work with state-of-the-art technology .

It is clear now that MARS will be similar to the European observers mentioned above, facilitating participation in large environmental research infrastructures on the European Union interest list, such as ACTRIS, InGOS and ICOS, aiming to study atmospheric compounds and their effects on the climate and life. For us, this dream come true will open up extraordinary long-term perspectives for Earth observation missions such as ADM-Aeolus, EarthCARE, Sentinels, FLEX and SMOS, being the only infrastructure of its kind in Eastern Europe, and thus a pillar essential and of great interest to the European Space Agency.

Creating large infrastructures to ensure a continuous flow of data and information on Earth observation generates the need to ensure access to information by sharing it in an easily accessible and usable manner. On a large scale, the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) is the system that integrates information gathered from various platforms, both academically and politically used to support decision-making. GEOSS builds on this process on satellite observations from Earth observation programs as well as ground-based research infrastructures.

MARS will provide data flow, becoming an important contributor and the only one so complex in this geographic area. It should also be mentioned that all these will be built within the framework of the TERRA project, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Competitiveness Operational Program 2014-2020, and will include observation facilities ground laboratories, associated laboratories and data centers to make a significant contribution to Earth observation activities, with the objective of providing the experimental basis for future multidisciplinary and frontier science fields.

The initiator of the project is the National Institute for Research and Development for Optoelectronics (INOE), which acts as a regional excellence pole in Eastern and South Eastern Europe, providing multiple observational opportunities for climate change, ground data used for Earth research programs and also scientific expertise in environmental research technology.

CEO terra-science-technology-103 Currently, INOE contributes to many European and global environmental and climate programs, but at the same time invests in the future by developing new infrastructures and new research directions. All these major achievements for us have started from a solid material and human basis built over the last 15 years through national and international research projects through participating European networking and implementation of the European Space Agency ( ESA), a business card with which we pride ourselves.

With this project, CEO-TERRA, we are proposing to modernize and consolidate what we have done so far through construction and procurement of equipment to enable:

  • creation of new research directions in the field of Earth Observation;
  • increasing the level of knowledge in the field of the atmosphere and the processes involved in its modification;
  • meeting the performance, traceability and relevance criteria of the European Research Infrastructures for the Environment and ESA.

Such an infrastructure will open new opportunities, both research and international collaborations, that will propel Romanian research into the top of the best academic groups in the world. New research topics for doctoral, postdoctoral (national and international) research and beyond, such as: clouds study, aerosol clouds interactions, quantification of aerosol and cloud radiation, microscale studies of the planetary boundary layer, turbulence study, and flows, studies on the physical and chemical properties of precipitation, etc., will be generated, creating the premises of increasing the visibility at the academic level through works and participation in scientific manifestations.

Perhaps these themes may seem punctual, but their impact may be significant by taking the results into weather forecasting, dispersion, climate change prediction, etc., generating scientifically proven results and decisions that impact on everyday life. CEO-TERRA is a future-added brick added to the foundation already built on the previous projects in order to diversify the possible activities at the moment in the Romanian research environment and to maintain a European standard of excellence.

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Technology of The Future – Romanian point of view