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The Meteorology, Environment and Aviation Research Unit
L-R: T. K. H. G. Rötger, C. Spirig, Tobias Frischknecht, S. Drossaart van Dusseldorp, J. Anet, J. Edebeli, Ivo Suter, L. Durdina, and
Jon G. Bell
Not in picture: Alumni

Our Mission

We are a group of highly driven aeronautical engineers, chemists, and atmospheric and environmental scientists, forming an interdisciplinary team who are interested in aircraft engine emissions and their influence on both local and global air quality. Our aim is to improve our understanding of the interplay between aircraft emissions, the environment, and human health. Furthermore, we are working to find new directions towards more sustainable aviation technologies via laboratory-based analytical studies, process engineering optimization, and material improvement. In addition, we seek novel approaches to raise public and expert understanding of meteorology, environmental and health protection.

We pursue three main goals:

First, throughout the shift from the use of conventional to sustainable aviation fuels, we want to gather critical new scientific information regarding the environmental and health impacts of aircraft engine emissions. We are aware that gas turbine engines will power passenger aeroplanes for the next few decades. Therefore, with our unique aircraft emission measurement systems, we analyse the dependence of emission characteristics on various factors such as ambient conditions, fuel composition, engine technology, and engine age. Despite many years of research, aircraft emissions and their impact on air quality, climate, and health are still poorly understood. Thus, through measurement and modelling studies, we aim to quantify and understand aviation’s effect on the chemical composition of the atmosphere in detail. We also perform ambient air quality assessments through measurements and models. Here, we identify and quantify different sources of particulate emissions and the population’s exposure. This work is supplemented by analytical laboratory studies that analyse the interrelation between combustion conditions, particulate matter composition, and interactions with airborne chemical species in the surrounding environment.

Second, we address the micro-meteorological dimension of the atmosphere, mainly focusing on improving the knowledge base of urban heat island mitigation, and other small-scale meteorological features. In the field of aviation meteorology, our vision is to improve the awareness of aviation staff and students towards weather-related factors by focusing on easy-to-understand teaching methods and simulation and visualization of meteorological processes.

Finally, we act as consultants whenever knowledge generation about environmental protection or climate change mitigation and adaptation is required. This includes, among others, modelling studies or redactional support. 

We are motivated by our passion and curiosity for environmental and atmospheric science and the exigency to foster environmental protection within all branches of mobility.

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Meet the team

Outside science:  Lacrosse, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, languages, reading

Career story:  I always fancied multidimensional (or wholesome) approaches to solving problems, particularly environment-related problems. Therefore, I have obtained a multi-disciplinary background around environmental sciences in civil engineering, environmental chemistry, and ecotoxicology. During my PhD, I studied chemistry in snow, and the impacts of snow chemistry on atmospheric chemistry. Presently, I apply myself as a scientific assistant in the Meteorology, Environment and Aviation research unit. I support the team primarily in the maintenance, improvement, and operation of SMARTEMIS. I am also involved in data analysis and modelling involving emission and immision measurements. In addition, I assist with student projects, practical lessons.

Jacinta Edebeli (aka Jay, Jaz)

Head of the Meteorology, Environment and Aviation research group at ZAV.

Scientific interests:  Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Engineering

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Curdin spirig (aka cuci)

Scientific interests: Meteorology (alpine and aviation), climate, aviation emissions

Outside science:  mountaineering, climbing, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, cross-country skiing, etc {#allaboutmountains; #winter}

Career story:  After my master’s degree in Atmospheric and Climate Sciences at ETH Zürich, I worked part time at ETH Zurich for the CH2018 project where the new climate scenarios for Switzerland were developed. Since I enjoy teaching, I completed the teaching diploma in geography at the same time. Currently, I’m working as a research associate at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences at the Centre for Aviation.

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Saskia Drossaart van Dusseldorp (aka Saskia)

Scientific interest: Meteorology; climate mitigation; weather engineering; didactics

Outside science: Literature of all kinds; choir singing; bartending

Career path: I studied atmospheric and climate sciences at ETH Zurich, where I quickly became interested in cloud microphysics, and more precisely aerosol-cloud-interactions. I specialized in this field by doing lab work and field campaigns, measuring aerosol particles, their properties, and the implications for cloud formation. Leaving lab and field work, I concluded my time at ETH by studying extreme weather events and the impact of weather engineering using high resolution modeling. During this time, I was co-teaching various courses and supervising students, which got me increasingly interested in didactics. I thus decided to join the METENVIA team at the Center for Aviation where I am primarily concerned with the integration of STEM content in early education.

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Outside science: Ice hockey, Alpine Skiing, Cross Country, Mountain biking, Soccer, Hiking, Aviation

Career path: There was a picture of me with my brother in front of a Super Puma helicopter when I was three years old. This was the moment when my interest in aviation started to grow. After my A-levels, I did my military service as a flight line personnel on a Swiss Air Force base in Switzerland. Afterwards, I did two internships at SR Technics at Zurich Airport. During those two internships, I learned the entire Maintenance, Overhaul and Repair (MRO) operations during an overhaul of a passenger airplane engine. These internships intensified my interest in the MRO aviation sector. Therefore, I started to study aviation at the ZHAW, focusing on the technical part of the aviation sector. After graduation, I decided to continue my studies with a master’s studies focusing on the repair development for engine parts on a part-time basis. My work as a scientific assistant at the Centre for Aviation (ZAV) in the Meteorology and Environment in Aviation (METENVIA) team offers me a new perspective on engine emissions, especially after the overhaul and repair of an ageing airplane engine. My responsibilities in the team mainly consist of the operation, development, and maintenance of the SMARTEMIS measurement system. Further tasks are the maintenance of the temperature measurement network in the city of Zurich and helping with the teaching of the Atmospheric Physics and Applied Meteorology module.

Mauro Alig (aka Mauro)

Scientific interest: Aviation emissions, MRO of ageing aircraft engines

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Jon Grahame Bell (aka Jon)

Scientific interest: Gas and vapour surface interactions, porous materials, surface chemistry, CO2 capture, electroceramics, solid-state physics

Outside science: Music, hiking, steam engines and railways, history and industrial heritage

Career path: My interest in the physical sciences led me to undertake a degree in Chemistry at Newcastle University (UK). I then undertook a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, under the supervision of Professor Mark Thomas, within the Northern Carbon Research Laboratories. During my Ph.D., I worked on ultra-high vacuum surface science techniques in order to understand dioxin, furan and mercury adsorption on porous activated carbons. I then worked on a wide range of systems, such as CO2 and CH4 separation on novel metal organic framework materials. Following this, I spent several years in the UK gas separation sector as Principal Scientist at Nanoporous Solutions Ltd, developing gas separation systems for IMI Norgren and Airbus. I then joined Empa, under a Marie Sklodowska Curie individual fellowship, to work on electroceramic systems for CO2 capture and H2 sensing, in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute. This project expanded my skills into the fields of electroceramics, high temperature electrochemistry and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. In the METENVIA team, I now focus on aviation emission monitoring. 

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Outside science: Music, especially choir singing, reading, travelling, biking

Career path: After studying physics in Heidelberg, Hamburg and Grenoble, I started my professional life in aviation at Airbus in Hamburg, in charge of cabin noise reduction for passenger comfort. Then I spent 3.5 years at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse as Environment Manager for the A380 programme. Back in Hamburg, I worked in various functions on both cabin and environment topics. In 2008, I moved to IATA, the global airline association in Geneva, taking care of reducing aviation’s environmental impact by new technologies, such as sustainable fuels, electric and hydrogen aircraft, and setting related standards and goals for global aviation. In 2021, I joined the METENVIA group in ZHAW under a contract with the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation, supporting them in developing new aircraft environmental standards and a long-term CO2 goal for international aviation.

Dr. Thomas K. H. G. Rötger (aka Thomas)

Scientific interest: Aviation & environment, global flight operations, acoustics

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Ivo Suter (aka Ivo)

Scientific interest: Modelling, Urban air quality and climate

Outside science: Sport-, Board- and Computer-Games; Reading; Hiking to SAC huts; cooking and eating; tinkering with my RasPi & Arduino

Career path:

My interest in a large variety of environmental processes led me to start as a Bachelor in Earth Sciences at ETH, where my fascination with weather and climate grew continuously. I then mainly focused on atmospheric chemistry during my Msc in Atmospheric and Climate Sciences.

For the PhD at Imperial College London however, I dealt with the physics and computation of atmospheric flow while developing an urban LES model.

Back in Switzerland as a PostDoc at Empa I continued modelling and studied the urban air quality of Zürich. Now, I joined ZHAW to go back an use another urban LES (PALM) to investigate the many facets of urban climate.

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Outside science: Music, choir, cooking&baking&eating, hiking, Lego

Career Path:

Having been introduced to atmospheric science during my master’s studies at HKU and through research experience at SDU, I decided to pursue a career in aerosol science.

At METENVIA, I will focus on learning about aircraft emissions and the surface chemistry involved in the adsorption of VOC vapors on jet-generated soot particles.

Yiheng Liang (aka Yiheng)

Scientific interest: Aircraft emissions, soot particles, VOCs adsorption


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Stefan Fluck (aka Bob)

Scientific interests: Meteorology, Aerodynamics, UAVs

Outside science: Flying model gliders competitively (member of swiss national team in F3K, flying F5J just for fun / swiss national champion 2021), exploring the region with a camera in my backpack, following motorsports, having fun sim-racing.

Career story: My fascination with the magic that makes airplanes fly motivated me to do the Bachelor in Aviation at the ZHAW. Then, my passion of flying model gliders in thermals in the planetary boundary layer has led me to do my master thesis with the Meteorology, Environment and Aviation Team at the Center for Aviation. Since 2018, I have been doing large eddy simulations with the PALM model system analyzing urban climate problems and wind flows in complex terrain. Parallel to this I frequently work in other teams, e.g. conducting data analysis for ageing aircraft (structural analyses) or human factor surveys.

Stay curious!

From METENVIA: Stefan has moved on to join the Swiss International Airlines’ data analyst operations research group.

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Outside science: Various sports, spending time in the mountains (hiking, snowboarding, XC-skiing), travelling, cooking

Career story: Since I was a child, the different airports fascinated me each time I went abroad. After completion of a technical apprenticeship, the decision was thus obvious to study aviation at the ZHAW. During my studies, I experienced the vastness of the aviation industry and its interrelationships; I knew that I wanted to work in an environment which covers this variety. Since July 2020, I have been working as a scientific assistant at the Center for Aviation in the Human Factors team as well as in the Meteorology, Environment and Aviation research unit. My focus in the METENVIA-team mainly lies in the development and maintenance of SMARTEMIS.

From METENVIA: Manuel has moved on to join the Swiss International Airlines’ flight dispatch group.

Manuel Roth (aka Manu)

Scientific interests: Emission measurements, interrelationships within the aviation sector, human factors, eyetracking, unmanned aircraft systems

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Tobias Frischknecht (aka Tobi)

Scientific interest: Emission measurements, ageing aircrafts, structural integrity

Outside science: Hiking, Skiing, sports in general, gymnastics, flying

Career path: When I was a child, my fascination for aviation began to grow. It all started with small RC planes and quickly grew into the dream to work in this sector one day. The first time I went on vacation in an aeroplane, I was hooked on aviation. After an apprenticeship as an electrician, my enthusiasm for technology led me to study aviation at the ZHAW. After graduating, I decided to continue my studies with a Master’s degree in Aviation on a part-time basis. Here, the focus is on the assessment of the structural integrity of ageing aircraft. Working as a scientific assistant at the Centre for Aviation (ZAV) in the Meteorology and Environment in Aviation (METENVIA) team offers me a refreshing new perspective on the ageing process of aircraft. My responsibilities in the team mainly consist of the operation, development, and maintenance of the SMARTEMIS measurement system. Before joining the METENVIA team, I spent almost a year gaining experience in the production and engineering of emergency medical systems and components for helicopters and aircraft.

From METENVIA: Tobias has moved on to join Axalp Technologies as an Aerospace Engineer.

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Outside science: Spending my free time in the wonderful alpine nature in Switzerland with my wife, either road/mountain biking, hiking, cross-country skiing or mountaineering restores my work life balance and recharges my batteries.

As a kid, I really liked looking into the sky, searching for planes, or looking at thunderstorm clouds, mountains, and rocks. During high school, my fascination in earth sciences and aviation grew; I wondered  how I could work in both fields at the same time in future. An ETH Masters in Atmosphere & Climate sciences, a PhD in atmospheric chemistry and a private pilot license later, I knew that both fields could be combined elegantly.

So it came about in 2017! The ZHAW School of Engineering offered me an opportunity not only to teach atmospheric physics for aviation, but also to do further research in the broad fields of small-scale meteorology, emission/immission measurements, and modelling. This was the beginning of my group. We are now 8 fascinated and motivated researchers involved in different projects, both national (e.g. FOCA-funded) and international (e.g. EU-funded). We are regularly involved in different consulting projects within the private sector.

From METENVIA: Julien has moved on to join the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology Meteo Swiss’s climate monitoring section.

Julien G. Anet (aka Dr. Jules)

Scientific interests: Meteorology and climate, atmospheric chemistry, and aviation

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Lukas Durdina (aka Luki)

Scientific interests:  environmental impacts of aviation, jet engine emission measurement, aerosol measurement techniques, air quality

Outside science:  travel, Polaroid photography, restoring and riding vintage road bikes, hiking, calisthenics, plane spotting, public speaking, classic cars

Career story:  I have been interested in all things that fly, drive, or float ever since I can remember. Thus, studying mechanical engineering after high school was an obvious choice. My deeper interest in aviation started to develop after my first year at the university in Brno, Czech Republic; I did an internship in a small company building ultralight airplanes. My focus shifted after my bachelor’s thesis (to flow visualization methods) when I started helping out with research on aerosol deposition in a model of human lungs. I got fascinated by academic research, and spent most of my master’s in the lab designing and building equipment for laser-based measurements of fuel injectors for a small jet engine to reduce fuel burn and emissions.

Jet engine emissions then became a major part of my professional career as they were the topic of my Ph.D. and PostDoc research at Empa and ETH Zurich, where I stayed for more than six years as a researcher and co-lead of several national and international projects. As ZHAW took over the rudder from Empa in the engine emissions work in January 2019, I came on board as a senior research associate to carry this work forward. In our group, I provide expertise and mentoring in emission measurements, jet engine performance, aerosol instrumentation, and air quality.

From METENVIA: Lukas has moved on to work as a Technical Consultant in the Aviation & Environment area.

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