The European Commission has approved the establishment of the Aerosol, Clouds and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure (ACTRIS) as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC).
The establishment of ACTRIS ERIC solidifies a long-term effort by several European countries to create a large and distributed Pan-European infrastructure supporting atmospheric research.
With ACTRIS, researchers, industry and policy makers can access key information on the state of the atmosphere, as well as sharing the best research platforms in Europe and scientific expertise for monitoring air quality and climate change.
ACTRIS ‘national facilities’ are distributed across 17 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, with Greece and the UK expressing an interest in joining at later stages. The members have placed atmospheric and air quality research as a national priority for at least the next five years.
ACTRIS facilities make up the largest, multi-site atmospheric research infrastructure in the world, providing users with open access to instruments, expertise, training opportunities and data management services. All users, regardless of their affiliation, area of expertise or field of activity, can benefit from ACTRIS pan-European open access services.
With its ERIC status, ACTRIS is now legally recognized as a European Research Infrastructure providing a stable legal structure. The establishment of ACTRIC ERIC manifests the fast progress of ACTRIS from a project-based network to a mature and sustainable research infrastructure. Finland will host the ‘Statutory Seat’ and manage the overall coordination of ACTRIS, and Italy will manage the access to ACTRIS services.
Eija Juurola, interim ACTRIS leader, Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), said, “This decision means the ACTRIS facilities can now operate legally together, as one organization. The decision comes at an important time since the transition to operations is already happening, and the synergies with scientists and industry are continuously developing.”
Every year, more than 5,000 users distributed around 50 countries in the world use the ACTRIS data for their research, enabling reliable atmospheric predictions, including short-term hazardous weather and health warnings as well as long-term evaluation of climate change.
ACTRIS core components are the national facilities, constituting in observatory and exploratory platforms, and the central facilities, fundamental for the provision of harmonized high-quality data, both within Europe and at selected global sites providing users with access to state-of-the-art, well-characterized and versatile facilities.
ACTRIS operations are funded by its member countries with the total investment during the design, preparatory and implementation phase estimated at €700m (US$775m), of which a large part is an investment for upgrading the existing national facilities or building new ones.
Paolo Laj, interim ACTRIS scientific chair, and University of Helsinki research director, said, “Thanks to concentrated international cooperation, in just 10 years we have been able to build and make operational state-of-the-art scientific instruments that open up unprecedented opportunities for breakthrough discoveries. ACTRIS is consolidating its position in the national, European and international landscapes, expanding its role as a key player supporting environmental research. Quality of services, open innovation culture, agility to respond to demand from user communities will enhance the level of trust, integrity and confidence between ACTRIS and its partners.”