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Into the Future with Metrology - The Challenges of Our Environment and Climate

Innovation Cluster for Environment and Climate

Reliable statements about climate change require quantitative, accurate and metrological traceable measurements – and this in a highly complex system with a very large number of relevant physical and chemical measurement parameters. As environmental and climate processes know no boundaries, one of PTB's most important partners in climate monitoring is the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which operates, among other things, the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). The latter defines, for example, 54 essential climate variables (ECVs), i.e. physical, chemical and biological measurement quantities designed to describe the global state of the climate. Changes in these quantities are small; in order to recognize developments unambiguously, long-term, highly accurate and reliable measurements (i.e. measurements that are traceable to the International System of Units SI) are necessary. Therefore, PTB has increased its participation in the traceability of these measurements.

When it comes to environmental protection, the German Environment Agency (UBA) is an important partner of PTB; the legal framework is provided by European framework directives for air and water, among other things. PTB is also responsible for the traceability and certification of vehicle exhaust gas and particle measurements and is continuously expanding its capabilities in this field. Within the framework of the radiation protection network, PTB maintains close contact with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the control centers of the Integrated Measurement and Information System (IMIS), which monitors radioactivity in the environment, as well as with the measuring stations of the federal and state governments. PTB is very active in European research programs such as EMPIR and is highly involved in the European Metrology Networks (EMNs) which are derived from these programs. PTB communicates intensively with the various stakeholders in legislation, standardization, industry and research in order to achieve and support continuous improvement and expansion of these activities. Please feel free to contact us!

The Expedition Blog
From 14 April to the first days of June, Rieke Schäfer, a doctoral student at PTB, shares her everyday experiences of conducting research at sea on board the vessel "Sonne".

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News (partly in German)

Verbrennungsstätte am Ganges bei Varanasi

Indiens heiligster Fluss gilt als Verkörperung einer Flussgöttin und wird oft auch so genannt wie sie: Mutter Ganga. Wer darin badet, so glauben Hindus, wird spirituell gereinigt. Für viele Menschen ist der Ganges zudem die einzige Trinkwasserquelle, meist ohne jede Filterung. Dabei ist dieser Fluss einer der am stärksten verschmutzten der Welt. Expertinnen und Experten der...

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Schätzung der Radon-Aktivitätskonzentration in Wohnungen

Wessen Wohnhaus auf granithaltigem Untergrund steht, könnte schon mal davon gehört haben: Das Edelgas Radon sorgt bei uns für den höchsten Beitrag durch natürliche Strahlenexposition. Warum seine verlässliche Messung wichtig ist und wie die Herausforderung des Strahlenschutzes, der „Feind“ Radon, auch zum Freund und Helfer wurde, darüber informiert die Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)...

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Vom 4. bis 6. Juni lädt der Bundespräsident zur „Woche der Umwelt“ ins Schloss Bellevue. Die PTB ist mit dabei und stellt ein aktuelles Forschungsergebnis vor: eine neue Methode, um den Wassergehalt des Bodens zu messen. (Ansprechpartner: Miroslav Zboril, 0531 592-6430, Opens local program for sending emailmiroslav.zboril(at)ptb.de)

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Standorte der weltweit 69 Standard-Referenz-Photometer (Grafik: NIST)

Ozon ist giftig für Lebewesen und zudem ein schädliches Treibhausgas. Daher muss die Ozonkonzentration mit verlässlichen Messverfahren feinmaschig überwacht werden. PTB und Umweltbundesamt arbeiten bereits seit 20 Jahren bei der Qualitätssicherung von Ozonmessungen zusammen.

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More news

Climate: Research at PTB Climate: Research at PTB

Satellites: the view from space
How much does the greenhouse effect heat up the earth? PTB helps to answer such questions by calibrating ESA and NASA detectors before they are used. 

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An accurate view of the Sun 
Ozone, water vapor, nitrogen oxides and aerosols absorb and reflect the radiation of the Sun. PTB helps to estimate the influences of these effects on the climate change by calibrating devices which measure the radiation of the Sun radriometrically. 

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The atmosphere: the air around us 
A key task of climate monitoring is the observation of the most important atmospheric components that influence the greenhouse effect. The PTB is working on it, too.

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Oceans: Saltier and more acidic
Climate change has an effect on the density and salinity of seawater. Reliable measuring procedures are important to find out more about these processes. 

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How humid, how warm?
Plain water in the form of humid air is one of the strongest greenhouse gases. PTB is one of the main participants in the broad introduction of the metrological principle of traceability for the measurand of water content.

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Human influences on the greenhouse gas cycle

Human civilization disturbs the natural cycle of the greenhouse gases. By using isopte measuring methods, PTB researchers try to find out more about these processes. 

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Local pollutants - global Climate: Research at PTB Local pollutants - global Climate: Research at PTB

Global greenhouse gas fluxes: Local sources and sinks  
Anyone who wants to understand climate change and the effects of environmental pollution quantify the sources and sinks of the problematic substances: of water vapor, greenhouse gases, pollutants and aerosols/fine dust from traffic.

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"Thick air" in the cities
Pollutants from car exhaust gases are harmful to human health, the environment and the climate. PTB ensures that measuring instruments for exhaust gas measurement or for monitoring air quality are reliable.

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Environment: Research at PTBEnvironment: Research at PTB

What comes out of the exhaust pipe? 
The Diesel scandal, nitrogen oxide limits, driving bans in German city centers – all these topics are currently causing a lot of discussion. On behalf of lawmakers, PTB is taking part in the search for solutions. 

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Pollutants in water and soil 
The EU is very concerned about its waters. Within the framework of the Network for Metrology in Chemistry in Germany, PTB maintains the necessary standards and organizes interlaboratory comparisons.

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UV therapy for safe drinking water 
For the drinking water disinfection with UV-C radiation, PTB supports the technological change from mercury vapor lamps to LED-based energy-saving UV-C sources.  

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What's radiating here? 
Concerning ionizing radiation, the focus can be on two different aspects: either on the radiating object itself, or on the dose a person receives. In both cases, the German Radiation Protection Act applies and PTB is active when precise measurements are needed.  

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Too bright and too loud
Not only pollutants but also too much light and too much noise are polluting our environment. PTB is working on advancing metrology and legislation in this field. 

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Innovation Cluster for Environment and ClimateInnovation Cluster for Environment and Climate

Executive Secretary 

Dr. Olav Werhahn
Phone: +49 531 592-2008
Opens local program for sending emailolav.werhahn(at)ptb.de


Dr.-Annette Röttger (Chair)
Member of the Presidential Board
Phone: +49 531 592-3000
Opens local program for sending emailannette.roettger(at)ptb.de

Dr. Corinna Kroner
Head of Department 1.5
Liquid Flow
Phone: (0531) 592-1500
Opens local program for sending emailcorinna.kroner(at)ptb.de

Dr. Bernd Güttler
Head of Division 3
Chemical Physics and Explosion Protection
Phone: +49 531 592-3010
Opens local program for sending emailbernd.guettler(at)ptb.de

Dr. Armin Sperling
Head of Department 4.1
Photometry and Spectroradiometry
Phone: +49 531 592-4100
Opens local program for sending emailarmin.sperling(at)ptb.de

Dr. Jörn Stenger 
Head of Division 6  
Ionizing Radiation
Phone: +49 531 592-6010  
Opens local program for sending emailjoern.stenger(at)ptb.de


Dr. Christian Monte
Head of Working Group 7.32
Infrared Radiation Thermometry
Phone: +49 30 3481-7246
Opens local program for sending emailchristian.monte(at)ptb.de


Dr. Marion Stoldt
Head of Group 9.3 
International Cooperation
Phone: (0531) 592-9300
Opens local program for sending emailmarion.stoldt(at)ptb.de