ACTRIS established as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium for state-of-the-art data and services in atmospheric research

The establishment of ACTRIS ERIC concretizes a long-term effort by Finland and other European countries to create a sustainable infrastructure supporting atmospheric and climate research. With ACTRIS, doors are open for researchers, industry, and countries to access key information on the state of the atmosphere.

The European Commission has taken a long-anticipated decision to establish the Aerosol, Clouds and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure (ACTRIS) as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium, or ERIC1.

The establishment of ACTRIC ERIC manifests the fast progress of ACTRIS from a project-based network to a mature and sustainable research infrastructure. With its ERIC status, ACTRIS is now legally recognized as a European Research Infrastructure, providing ACTRIS with a stable legal structure.

“This decision means the ACTRIS facilities can now operate legally together, as one organisation,” says Eija Juurola, Interim ACTRIS Leader.

“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.” ACTRIS ERIC provides access to a large variety of high-quality services to a wide range of users and needs, for scientific, technological and innovation-oriented usage through its internationally scientific platforms.

Finland has a strong investment in the development of the research network

Finland is one of the 17 funding members of ACTRIS ERIC. With this commitment, Finland demonstrates atmospheric and air quality research as a national priority for at least the next five years, thereby supporting scientific excellence across Europe. Being a member country of ACTRIS ERIC means that ACTRIS Finland representatives can help shape the strategy, participate in mission-based research, and join ACTRIS unified voice in the forefront of European science and education landscape of atmospheric research focused on aerosol, clouds, and trace gases. 

Finland has a leading role in coordinating the whole research infrastructure and will host the Statutory Seat in Kumpula, Helsinki.

"Hosting the Head Office in Finland is a sign of recognition for the Finnish contribution in atmospheric sciences and our expertise in developing, operating and managing pan-European Research Infrastructures", says Professor Tuukka Petäjä, University of Helsinki and Head of ACTRIS-Finland.

ACTRIS combines European research expertise

ACTRIS facilities make up the largest, multi-site atmospheric research infrastructure in the world. Other countries involved in the founding of ACTRIS ERIC include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Greece and UK expressed interest in joining at later stages. 

ACTRIS is a large research infrastructure with substantial financial volume and its operations are funded by its member countries. The total investment by the participating countries during the design, preparatory, and implementation phase is approximately 700 M€, of which a large part is an investment for upgrading the existing scientific platforms or building new ones. ACTRIS, together with other European environmental research infrastructures, contribute to the new European Research Area (ERA) objectives with larger R&D investments, more evenly distributed capacities and access to excellent R&I in atmospheric research across Europe, better circulation of knowledge and technology and finally increased EU competitiveness.

History of the platform

ACTRIS entered its journey towards ACTRIS-ERIC as early as 2011, achieving important scientific and technical milestones that led to deeper understanding of the driving forces of climate change and air pollution. Monitoring the spatial and temporal variability of short-lived atmospheric constituents (aerosol, clouds, and trace gases) from 80 observation platforms in Europe and beyond over more than a decade provided unprecedented views of effectiveness of emission reduction policies in Europe but also highlighted the complex feedback mechanisms acting on the climate system.  

Hundreds of researchers Worldwide but also users from the private sector accessed the ACTRIS platforms (observation site, atmospheric simulation chambers) to perform novel experiments improving scientific knowledge, develop new instruments or got trained on new technologies. Every year, over 5000 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 offers its users open access to instruments, expertise, training opportunities, and FAIR3 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. ACTRIS aims at increasing the excellence in Earth system observation and research by providing information and knowledge for developing sustainable solutions to societal needs.

The Finnish component of ACTRIS, ACTRIS Finland (ACTRIS-FI), belongs to the Finnish Research Infrastructure Roadmap 2021-2024 as a major part of INAR RI (Integrated Atmospheric and Earth System Research Infrastructure). The research performing organizations involved in ACTRIS Finland are the University of Helsinki, Finnish Meteorological Institute, University of Eastern Finland and Tampere University. ACTRIS Finland has several high-quality observational sites and platforms operating at the national level from the Baltic Sea to Finnish Arctic, as well an observation site overseas in Antarctica. ACTRIS Finland platforms are currently used by over 30 international research projects, and they host over 3200 research visitor days annually. The operation and development of ACTRIS Finland are finances by the four research performing organizations, Academy of Finland and Ministry of Transport and Communications.