Multi-platform remote sensing of isotopologues for investigation the cycle of atmospheric water

Activity Code: ERC-StG-LS7
Principal Investigator: Dr. Matthias Schneider
Host Institution: Karlsruhe Institute for Technologie (KIT)


"Water in its various forms, plays a dominant role in nearly all aspects of the Earth's climate system. Understanding the full cycle of evaporation, cloud formation, and precipitation is the highest scientific priority for predicting climate change". (citation from Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment web page:

The ratios between the different stable water isotopologues (e.g. H216O, H218O, or HD160) are affected by evaporation, condensation, and cloud processes, and offer a promising opportunity for investigation how water moves through the atmoshpere. So far atmospheric research applying water isotopologues is mainly limited by the lack of high-quality and area-wide observational data. MUSIC will combine ground- and space-based remote sensing measurements of H216O and HD16O/H216O in a consistent manner, taking benefit from both the high and well documented quality of the ground-based observations and the wide geograhical coverage of the space-based obeservations. This novel observational data set will allow a new dimension of water cycle research.

MUSICA will collaborate with the Stable Water Isotope Intercomparison Group (SWING: in order to validate a set of different state-of-the-art water isotope general circulation models. MUSICA will investigate water vapour sources and transport pathways (ocean to continents, surface to upper troposhere, etc.). MUSICA will help to assess how well climate feedbacks are captured by current climate models and thereby it will constrain the main uncertainty of climate projections. We expect that MUSICA will be important for improving climate as well as weather predicition models.

Project Details:

Start Date: 01.02.2011
End Date: 31.01.2016
EU Contribution:  1.5 Mio Euro
Total Costs:  1.5 Mio Euro
Funding Scheme: ERC Starting Grant 2010
Administrative Contact Person: Dr. Berndt Kronimus berndt.kronimus(at)

Print Version


    • Dr. Angela Richter
    • Delegate for the research area Earth and Environment
      Helmholtz Association