Sources and Process-Investigating Task Force studyIng stRatospheric aErosol


Project period: 01.09.2014 bis 31.08.2017

The stratospheric aerosol layer is a key element in the Earth’s climate system. It affects the radiative balance of the atmosphere directly through interactions with solar and terrestrial radiation and indirectly through its effect on stratospheric ozone chemistry. In spite of its importance, the sources, the processing and the radiative properties of stratospheric aerosol and its interdependencies with the Earth’s climate system are not fully understood.

The overall aim of SPITFIRE is to investigate the processes sustaining the stratospheric aerosol layer and its exact impact on the climate system, in order to predict its future evolution and climate interactions. Specific objectives are (1) the quantitative understanding of various sources and transport mechanisms of stratospheric aerosol, (2) to quantify processes controlling sulfur compounds and other organic/inorganic substances attaining to the stratosphere, (3) to quantify stratospheric refractory/non-refractory aerosol and (4) to parameterize the relevant processes for implementation in chemistry climate models (CCM). SPITFIRE involves experienced research groups for the physico-chemical characterization of stratospheric aerosol and measurements of the aerosol precursor gases SO2, H2SO4 and OCS in the UT/LS. SPITFIRE has a strong component of field observations and concentrates on detailed aerosol-related processes in the stratosphere, explicitly including non-sulfate aerosol. SPITFIRE will use and analyze data acquired during several scientific flight missions involving the high altitude research aircraft M55-Geophysica and HALO.  

Project partners

  • Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Institute for Physics of the der Atmosphere (Coordination)

  • Technical University Darmstadt, Institute for applied Geoscience, environmental mineralogy

  • Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Particle Chemistry Department

  • DLR, Oberpfaffenhofen, Institute for Physics of the der Atmosphere, Atmospheric Tracers

  • Research Center Jülich, IEK-7 Stratosphere



Aerosol und cloud microphysics:

Dr. Ralf Weigel, weigelr(at)

Christoph Mahnke, cmahnke(at)

Offline aerosol microphysics and chemistry:

Prof. Dr. Martin Ebert, mebert(at)geo.tu-darmstadt.de

Online aerosol microphysics and chemistry:

PD Johannes Schneider, johannes.schneider(at)

Christiane Schulz, christiane.schulz(at)

Trace gases (SO2, H2SO4):

Dr. Hans Schlager, hans.schlager(at)

 Trace gases (OCS, CO, CO2, H2O): 

Dr. Marc von Hobe, m.von.hobe(at)

Corinna Kloss, c.kloss(at)



Method related references

Brands, M., M. Kamphus, T. Böttger, J. Schneider, F. Drewnick, A. Roth, J. Curtius, C. Voigt, A. Borbon, M. Beekmann, A. Bourdon, T. Perrin, and S. Borrmann: Characterization of a Newly Developed Aircraft-Based Laser Ablation Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (ALABAMA) and First Field Deployment in Urban Pollution Plumes over Paris During MEGAPOLI 2009, Aerosol Sci. Technol., 45, 46-64, doi: 10.1080/02786826.2010.517813, 2011.

Kandler, K., 2009. An aerosol sampler for single particle analysis. Presentation at the European Aerosol Conference 2009, Karlsruhe, Germany. Abstract T092A04.

Schmale, J., J. Schneider, T. Jurkat, C. Voigt, H. Kalesse, M. Rautenhaus, M. Lichtenstern, H. Schlager, G. Ancellet, F. Arnold, M. Gerding, I. Mattis, M. Wendisch, and S. Borrmann, Aerosol layers from the 2008 eruptions of Mt. Okmok and Mt. Kasatochi: In-situ UT/LS measurements of sulfate and organics over Europe, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D00L07, doi:10.1029/2009JD013628, 2010.

Speidel, M. und Nau, R. und Arnold, F. und Schlager, H. und Stohl, A.; Sulfur dioxide measurements in the lower, middle and upper troposphere: Deployment of an aircraft-based chemical ionization mass spectrometer with permanent in-flight calibration; Atmospheric Environment, 41, Seiten 2427-2437. DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2006.07.047, 2007.

Weigel, R., Hermann, M., Curtius, J., Voigt, C., Walter, S., Böttger, T., Lepukhov, B., Belyaev, G., and Borrmann, S.: Experimental characterization of the COndensation PArticle counting System for high altitude aircraft-borne application, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 2, 243-258, doi:10.5194/amt-2-243-2009, 2009.

Weigel, R., Volk, C. M., Kandler, K., Hösen, E., Günther, G., Vogel, B., Grooß, J.-U., Khaykin, S., Belyaev, G. V., and Borrmann, S.: Enhancements of the refractory submicron aerosol fraction in the Arctic polar vortex: feature or exception?, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 12319-12342, doi:10.5194/acp-14-12319-2014, 2014.