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The Atmospheric Environment Division of the Institute for for Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, 47.477°N, 11.064°E) was founded in 1954 by R. Reiter as "Physikalisch-Bioklimatische Forschungsstelle" and is one of the oldest institutions in Germany active in the field of atmospheric environmental reasearch. It entered the Fraunhofer Society in 1962 and received its first own building in 1973 as well as the name "Fraunhofer-Institut für Atmosphärische Umweltforschung" (IAU, later IFU)

Due to its location in the Bavarian Alps the principal focus soon became atmospheric observations in a station network covering different altitudes between the valley and 2962 m (Zugspitze). Starting in the late 1980s the institute grew considerably both in size and in the number of research activities. As the Fraunhofer Society concentrated more and more on industrially relevant research the position of IFU became difficult. In 2002, the institute joined the large-scale centre "Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe" as a division of IMK.

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IMK-IFU has a long record in the field of atmospheric remote sensing with lidar. In 1973 the first aerosol lidar was built and has yielded a long term series of the stratospheric aerosol since 1976. In the early 1990s this instrument was upgraded and joined the NDSC (NDACC). Its operating range covers the free troposphere and the stratosphere to at least 40 km. This lidar system as well as a small mobile three-wavelength aerosol lidar (high-spectral-resolution lidar) are also integrated into the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network (EARLINET). Furthermore, the institute operates differential-absorption lidar systems for tropospheric ozone and free-tropospheric water vapour.


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