The main scientific objective studied at the IAP is the middle atmosphere in the altitude range 10-100km with particular emphasis on the dynamical coupling between the lower and middle atmosphere. The upper part of the middle atmosphere, say between 70 and 100 km, is one of the least understood region of our atmosphere. The scientific interest in this region has steadily increased in the last years since there is more and more evidence that this region could be specially sensitive to global change. Modern active remote sensing techniques, in particular radars and lidars, are now capable of revealing new and unprecedented experimental information about the physical processes in the middle atmosphere and their long term trend.
The main scientific objectives studied at the IAP are as follows:
- general aspects regarding energy and momentum budget
- thermal and dynamical structure
- layers, such as noctilucent clouds (NLC), polar mesosphere summer and winter echoes (PMSE, PMWE)
- coupling between atmospheric layers
- dynamical coupling of the tropo-, strato-, and mesosphere, for example by waves
- transport of trace constituents etc.
- long term variations in the middle atmosphere
- solar cycle
These areas are investigated both by experimental and theoretical methods. Furthermore, some scientists at the IAP work on specific topics not listed above, for example on metal atom layers in the mesopause region, or on the technological improvement of experimental techniques (lidars, radars).
Every 2 years the scientific results are published in a report the latest version of which can be found under annual report. Long term planning of the science objectives at IAP is frequently discussed with the panel of experts and the board of trustees. The long term plan is summarized in the `science planning document' ( Wissenschaftliches Rahmenprogramm )