Video/Audio Open Access
In 1999 the Institut für Umweltphysik at the University of Heidelberg moved into a new building. There a world wide unique experimental facility is available, the Heidelberg Aeolotron. This annular wind/wave facility with 10 m in diameter was built for the investigation of small-scale air-sea interaction processes. Although these processes are controlled by thin boundary layers of about a millimeter thickness on both sides of the interface, they are of importance for the global climate and the global cycling of chemical species. These processes partly control how much energy, heat and climate-relevant gaseous species such as carbon dioxide and methane are exchanged between the atmosphere and the oceans. It is very difficult to study air-sea interaction processes at a water surface agitated by waves. The breakthrough came with imaging optical technique that make various parameters of these processes visible and with digital image processes for an automated quantitative analysis of the image sequences obtained. The Aeolotron is well equipped to apply these novel techniques. It is envisioned that it will attract guest scientists from all over the world and will become a center for experimental research in air-sea interaction for years to come.