The Italian National Research Council Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis (CNR-IMAA) involves more than 100 researchers and make use of laboratories and facilities of international relevance in the field of the Earth Observation. The CNR-IMAA scientific mission is the study of the atmosphere and of the Earth’s surface by using remote sensing techniques, environmental and geophysical monitoring, the evaluation of the impacts of the anthropogenic activities system and the implementation of optimizing models to assess the best allocation of resources.
The CNR-IMAA Atmospheric Observatory (CIAO) is located in Tito Scalo, 6 km far from Potenza, Southern Italy, on the Apennine mountains (40.60N, 15.72E, 760 m a.s.l.) and less than 150 km from the West, South and East coasts. The site is in a plain surrounded by low mountains (<1100 m a.s.l.). The observatory operates in a typical mountain weather strongly influenced by Mediterranean atmospheric circulation, resulting in generally dry, hot summers and cold winters. In this location phenomena like orographically-induced effects on cloud formation can be studied. The site is representative of the Mediterranean area and is affected by a large number of Saharan dust intrusions each year.
CIAO represents a well-established ground-based remote-sensing observatory for the study of weather and climate. The observatory consists of a combination of advanced systems able to provide high quality long-term observations of aerosol and cloud properties. Since 2000, systematic observations of aerosol, water vapour and clouds have been collected and the acquisition of new active and passive microwave profilers has strengthened the equipment required for performing accurate aerosol and cloud observations. Currently, CIAO represents the largest ground-based remote-sensing station in the Mediterranean Basin and is one of the first atmospheric observatories in Europe.
The main scientific objective is the long-term measurement for the climatology of aerosol and cloud properties. The observation strategy is mainly organized in order to provide quality assured measurements for satellite validation and model evaluation and to fully exploit the synergy and integration of the active and passive sensors for the improvement of the atmospheric profiling.
The main research lines currently active at CIAO include:
design and implementation of lidar systems for aerosol, water vapour and cloud measurements;
development of algorithms for the integration of lidar and microwave radiometer measurements;
definition of measurement protocols, quality assurance programmes and data managing strategies;
- definition of a suitable strategy for the satellite CAL/VAL;
- analysis of the physical and dynamical processes related to aerosol transport, their modification and classification;
- analysis and physical interpretation of observations provided by both active and passive sensors for the study of aerosol and cloud interactions and nucleation processes;
- organization and participation in measurement campaigns;
- development of methods for the evaluation of aerosol transport and mesoscale weather prediction models;
CIAO provides access to data, services and to the research facility for conducting measurements campaigns and instrument testing.