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Right after Christmas 2018, our group was approached by a foreign aircraft engine manufacturer who requested us to perform various nvPM measurements in 2019. For 2019, our group originally planned to run engine emissions tests at our home base at SR Technics at Zurich airport, but due to their demanding test cell overhaul, we could not test until very late in the year. Thus, these tests abroad provided a unique opportunity and we also rapidly got a go from our primary funding agency as these tests were significant from the perspective of the international emissions regulations.

Agreeing to perform measurements abroad automatically launches a series of standardized process chains which need to be followed as well as possible, as on-site, there is (almost) no way to repair an instrument or replace a broken part.

Very early in the process, we thus calibrated various sensors in-house (using a secondary standard) and sent our aerosol instruments to their manufacturers for servicing and calibration. Replacement consumables were identified, ordered and packed. In parallel, the transport was organized: This consisted of generating a complete item list of the entire SMARTEMIS infrastructure, including description, insured value and new value, weight and potential hazards. Our transport company, Maurice Ward Group, was of great help when international transport rules had to be studied in detail, as well as during the risk-management process of our infrastructure worth up to a million Swiss Francs.

After calibration of our instruments, SMARTEMIS was tested at SR Technics in different modes of operation in order to make sure that everything worked as intended. Then came the day when SMARTEMIS, all packed up snugly in custom-built, wooden boxes, was sent to its destination in Eastern Europe.

SMARTEMIS packed and ready for shipping.

Knowing that SMARTEMIS was on the way, we prepared ourselves for the 4-week-long trip and traveled to our final destination via Moscow. We, of course, took the opportunity to do a little bit of sightseeing in the Russian capital, had a look at the typical tourist attractions like the Kremlin or the Gorky park, as the weather was very sunny and mild.

At our destination, we rapidly located one of the restaurants that became our go-to restaurant for most of our dinners during our stay because, as one says, it is important to keep mind and body properly fueled for success. Since typical eastern European food is famous for being rather meat-heavy, we often found ourselves having dinner in “Lakshmi”, an Indian-influenced vegan restaurant with absolutely fabulous tea. Yet, we went to quite a few other restaurants featuring delicious local and international dishes. During lunch, we were graciously hosted by our client, making the best of our stay.

Julien, Jazz, and Lukas in front of the engine testing facility

Shortly after our arrival, we dug into work. This first meant checking the state of the SMARTEMIS boxes, unpacking everything, connecting the measurement infrastructure to the power grid, shop air and calibration gas bottles, and running a few tests. Rapid deployment and a few first measurements proved that SMARTEMIS was, despite the long trip on some probably bumpy roads, doing perfectly fine.

While Julien traveled back after 10 days, Jazz & Lukas performed an intensive yet very successful measurement campaign with different engines.

Of course, there were breaks between measurement days and the thorough on-site data analyses. Beneath taking some well-deserved naps and jogging rounds, we were invited to two very interesting guided tours. The first tour led us to an open air museum of wooden architecture from the 17th to 19th century. On the particular day of our visit, the museum was hosting an international festival of military reconstruction. After a wet start, the weather showed compassion on us, even featuring some sunshine on our way back. The second trip led Jazz and Lukas to a very impressive ice cave, which was formed over thousand of years into the surrounding karstic area.

After a successful end to the project, SMARTEMIS was packed into its wooden boxes, and sent back to Switzerland, while we headed back to Zurich.

Group retreat

365 days happen to pass extremely quickly, especially during the buzzing university terms. Yet, regular discussions, making sure our plans still fit the main mission to provide significant services to the global community, are of uttermost importance.

A yearly group retreat allows us to take some distance from the everyday rush, changing the perspective and therefore helping the development of new ideas and projects.

This year, we decided to do our group retreat in the premises of “museum schaffen.” Located in the former buildings of the “Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik” (SLM), “museum schaffen” recently opened a work lab with all kinds of tools, creating an inspiring and empowering atmosphere for a retreat.

We set out to define our visions for the next 12 – 24 months in scientific projects, services and teaching. While identifying our own strengths and weaknesses, we started by getting to know each other better and ended with generating a clear plan for the next two years. For teaching, this involved the identification of potential topics for Bachelor- and Master theses. For scientific projects and services, we focused on parallel activities in the field of weather, climate & environmental protection including aviation emissions, on mutual coaching activities and on potential publications to be tackled soon.

Because intense brainwork needs some physical activity as compensation, the afternoon was spent in the climbing hall “6a+“. While Jazz & Lukas got a professional introduction by Damaris, our climbing teacher, Curdin & Julien got a serious brush-up on indoor climbing technique. We all ended up having sore forearms and cramped toes, but filled with endorphins and ready to conquer the next 365 days of work!

Visit of MeteoSwiss HQ with our students

Each year, I am teaching around 60-80 students some meteorological basics. The courses include a wrap-up of first year physics, and builds upon this knowledge to introduce some applied notions of thermodynamics and fluid dynamics (see course description here).

The main aim of the course is to enable students to understand, categorize and maybe even generate own weather forecasts, with a special focus on the most important hazardous weather phenomena both for commerical and general aviation.

Thanks to the very fruitful collaboration with MeteoSwiss, interested students have always been able to join a guided tour through the MeteoSwiss Headquarters at the airport of Zurich.

The tour mostly begins with a short welcome note on the observation deck, before boarding a passenger bus leading to the threashold of runway 16. There, the tour guide shows and explains the different meteorological instruments partly used for the meteorological report (METAR). The group is then lead to the meteorological observation platform. There, the duty of an “aeronautical meteorological observer” (see here for a definition) is introduced to the students.

Group of students walking up the stairs to the weather observation tower

Finally, the forecasting front office is shown, were one of the two on-duty forecasters answer the – mostly numerous – questions of the students.

Once again, it was a very interesting guided tour, and all our students were extremely happy to have been able to take part.

Many thanks to Peter Meyer, Martin Dätwyler, Thomas Jordi, Andreas Asch and the remaining team of MeteoSwiss to make this yearly tour possible!

METENVIA – and our mission

We are a team of highly motivated atmospheric and environmental scientists. We are especially curious about aircraft engine emissions and how they impact local air quality. In addition, we look for new ways to improve the awareness of aviation professionals towards meteorological effects on aviation, environmental protection, and global climate change.

From left: C. Spirig, L. Durdina, J. Anet, J. Edebeli, S. Fluck

We pursue mainly three goals:

First, we aim to generate new scientific knowledge, e.g. about the toxicity and the environmental burden of aircraft engine emissions. We are convinced that passenger aircraft will rely on gas turbine engines throughout the next decades. Therefore with our measurement data, we analyze different possible elements impacting emission characteristics, such as environmental factors, fuel composition, engine technology and engine age. Aircraft emissions and their impact on regional air quality within the boundary layer and on the ground are still poorly understood despite many years of work. Thus, through modeling studies, we aim to visualize and quantify aviation effect on the chemical composition of the air.

Second, meteorological factors regularly impact air transport frequently leading to delays, often to incidents, and sometimes to accidents. Our vision is to improve the awareness of aviation staff towards weather-related factors by focusing on easy-to-understand teaching methods, and simulation and visualization of meteorological processes. As well, we support knowledge transfer within the meteorological community as much as possible.

Finally, we act as consultants whenever know-how generation about environmental protection or climate change is required. This includes, among others, modelling studies or redaction support.

We are driven by the urgent need to address global climate change and environmental protection by paradigm shifts within all branches of mobility.

Hello World!

It’s happening – METENVIA, the research unit “Meteorology, Environment and Aviation” of the Centre for Aviation from ZHAW just came alive!

In the forthcoming weeks and months, we will tackle mostly aviation-related ongoing environmental and meteorological challenges. Yet, our competencies don’t stop there; we will contribute to other projects fitting to our mission statement. Stay tuned to get to know more about the latter!

Bildergebnis für hello world"
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