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In the framework of the Integrated Carbon Observing System Switzerland (ICOS-CH), MeteoSwiss has been mandated by the Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) to develop and operate a system to measure the planetary boundary layer height in the vicinity of the research station Jungfraujoch. The system is based on a ceilometer and is operational since 2014.

Project start01.07.2021
Project end30.06.2025
StatusCurrent projects
  • Measurement & forecasting systems
  • Research & cooperation


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Swiss federal authoritiesSwiss federal authorities

The High Altitude Research Station Jungfraujoch (JFJ) is part of the Integrated Carbon Observing System and hosts a variety of instruments to measure atmospheric composition. While the purpose is to measure so called background concentrations in the free troposphere, the instruments sometimes sample air from the planetary boundary layer (PBL). For a better interpretation of the measurements it is therefore important to monitor the PBL in the vicinity of the JFJ. For this purpose, MeteoSwiss has developed a system to measure the height of the PBL. This system is based on the measurements of a commercial ceilometer which provides profiles of attenuated backscatter coefficient, a proxy for aerosol concentration. A sophisticated algorithm then estimates the height of the PBL using aerosols as a tracer of PBL air. This algorithm is called PathfinderTURB and has been published in a scientific journal. Since 2014, this system is operational and provides PBL heights to EMPA in near-real time.

Status of the project

The current project lasts from July 2021 to June 2025.  Previous projects covered 2014-2018 and 2018-2021.


The Project leader is Alexander Haefele.