New knowledge is in the air


In June, the Weiss Prize, Austria’s highest research award in the field of meteorology, was officially awarded to Andreas Stohl of the University of Vienna. The award worth €300,000 given by the FWF on behalf of the Weiss Science Foundation will enable the meteorologist to study the transport of heat and water vapour in the atmosphere. This will allow new insights into the global effects (known as teleconnections) of climate anomalies such as the El Niño phenomenon and contribute to a better understanding of the processes that give rise to extreme weather events such as heavy precipitation or heat waves.

Andreas Stohl’s research is primarily focused on developing atmospheric dispersion models. While conventional models record meteorological parameters such as humidity or temperature at fixed points, Lagrangian models follow the individual particles and record how the meteorological parameters change along their path. In a Lagrangian re-analysis, Andreas Stohl is now working on developing global transport climatologies which have the potential to shed new light on many meteorological questions such as the origin of extreme precipitation events.

“I’m excited about my now funded project because it allows me to take my research in an entirely new direction” says Weiss prizewinner Andreas Stohl in a first reaction. “We have high hopes that we can come up with new answers to fundamental questions regarding the transport of energy and water in the atmosphere, which will greatly improve our understanding of the El Niño phenomenon, for example”, he explains.

El Nino Phänomen Photo: NASA, CC 2.0

Photo: NASA, CC 2.0

On 14 June 2021 Andreas Stohl discussed the UNIVIE Semester Question with Achim Steiner (UNDP) and other experts. Watch the entire panel discussion here.

“On behalf of the Weiss Science Foundation, I would like to warmly congratulate Andreas Stohl on his win of the 2020 Weiss Prize in the field of meteorology. Every year, Dr Putz and I are pleased to see how the intention of the founding couple—to promote the sciences in their respective fields, meteorology and anaesthesia—is fulfilled in such an impressive manner”, says Rudolf Bauer, chairman of the “Dr Gottfried and Dr Vera Weiss Science Foundation”.

Investing in climate research

“The University of Vienna is investing in climate research as part of implementing the new federal funding system (Unifinanzierung neu). These endeavours have now received a top-class boost with the addition of Andrea Stohl in 2020. Together with Austria’s Meteorological and Geophysics Centre (ZAMG), the Vienna Network for Atmospheric Research, in which Professor Stohl will play a leading role, is working to pool and intensify the research on climate change. The research funded by the Weiss Prize will provide further impetus to the efforts already being made in the area of climate research”, says Heinz W. Engl, Rector of the University of Vienna, expressing his congratulations on the Gottfried and Vera Weiss Prize. “In the field of atmospheric science, the University of Vienna is among the Top 100 in the current ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects”, points out Engl, referring to the international standing of this discipline.

Benefits us as a society

“The cooperation with the Weiss Foundation or the alpha+ Foundation of the FWF are extremely important for establishing and developing a culture of philanthropy in the area of science and research in Austria. I would like to thank the Weiss Science Foundation for the trust they have shown in the FWF and wish prizewinner Andreas Stohl every success on his exciting project”, emphasises FWF President Christof Gattringer in his words of congratulation. “The collaboration with Austria’s Meteorological and Geophysics Centre (ZAMG) underlines the importance of cooperation, as the direct application of his research work benefits us as a society. In practice, models such as these make a key contribution when it comes to knowing how and where to react properly to a crisis situation”, says Gattringer in closing.