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Research Unit: How Do Volcanoes Influence the Climate?

How do volcanic eruptions affect the atmosphere and climate? This is what scientists from seven research institutes in Germany are investigating. The Institute of Environmental Physics at the University of Bremen is one of them. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation – DFG)

Vollmpact is the title of the DFG Research Unit and deals with “revisiting the volcanic impact on atmosphere and climate – preparations for the next big volcanic eruption.” The group is coordinated by the Institute of Physics at the University of Greifswald.

Vollmpact Project Goals

Volcanic eruptions are one of the most important natural causes of climate change. Although atmospheric research has been dealing with the influences of volcanic eruptions for more than three decades, many fundamental processes are insufficiently understood. The main objective of the VolImpact DFG Research Unit is to significantly improve the scientific understanding of the climate system’s response to volcanic eruptions. Satellite-supported measurements of corresponding atmospheric parameters are to be carried out and the physical and chemical processes comprehensively modeled with the aid of this data.

How Does the Volcanic Cloud Develop?

The researchers are investigating the topic in five subprojects. They deal with the development of the volcanic cloud, the radiative forcing by volcanic aerosols, the aerosol-cloud interaction, the effects of volcanic aerosols on the dynamics of the atmosphere, and the hydrological cycle of the atmosphere near the surface.

Seven Partners Involved

The research unit includes scientists from the Universities of Bremen, Greifswald, Hamburg, and Leipzig, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel. A team headed by Professor John P. Burrows from the Institute of Environmental Physics is working at the University of Bremen.

DFG Research Units

A research unit is a scientific funding program of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG – German Research Foundation). This program will support small groups of scientists working together in a specific field on an issue that could not be solved if they were to work on their own. The program has existed since 1962.


Professor John P. Burrows (Fellow of the Royal Society)
Institute of Environmental Physics
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-62100


smoking volcano
Poas, one of the volcanos of Puerto Rica.