6th VAO Symposium in Grainau, Germany

The 6th VAO Symposium took place in Grainau, Germany from 21 to 23 March 2023. The symposium, which is organised alternately by members of the Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO) community, deals with topics in the field of climate and environmental research.

The symposium was opened by words of welcome by the Ministerial Director of the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection, Dr. Christian Barth. He mentioned the importance of research in the field of climate and environment as well as the accessibility and implementation of the results in appropriate measures and emphasised the strong support of his ministry for the Schneefernerhaus station.

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) was represented by Christian Gsodam, Head of Cabinet, and explained the importance of cooperation between the regions and how this can be integrated into the Green Deal initiative.  Possible collaborations within the Destination Earth initiative of the European Commission (EU COM) were mentioned by Dr. Christian Kirchsteiger (EU COM) and Franke Kunz from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). James Thorton, representative of the Mountain Research Initiative, informed the audience about their vision of cooperation in highly sensitive mountain regions.

Prof. Dr. Michael Krautblatter, the new Chairman of the VAO Board, spoke about inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to research in the Alpine region with regard to hazards and risks caused by climate change and its effects on the population. Cooperation at various levels is central. Prof. Dr. Simon Mackovjak presented the Lomnický štít station in Slovakia, followed by a presentation by Prof. Dr. Kunstmann from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology on high-resolution modelling in the Alpine region and the importance of moving the Alpine community towards a climate-resilient society.

The next four lecture sessions were held on the following topics:
• Climate impact on Alpine environment, hazards and risks (Chair Prof. Dr. Markus Leuenberger)
• Atmospheric and climatic variability (Chair Dr. Jaroslav Chum)
• Environment and human health (Chair Prof. Dr. Rudolf M. Huber)
• Alpine water cycle (Chair PD Dr. habil. Sabine Wüst)

The program can be found here

On Thursday 23 March, 2023 participants were invited to visit the Schneefernerhaus, a well-known high altitude research station just below the Zugspitze. This was an excellent opportunity to experience the wealth of research areas within one institution.
Dr. Till Rehm gave an excellent introduction to the research topics and guided us through the many laboratories available at Schneefernerhaus. Together with Peter Marton, the Executive Director this guided tour was very informative. We thank Till and Peter for having us as guests at their research station. Thank you!