Biodiversity Weather Station

Test stations measure species diversity using various sensors to gather precise information about the effects of climate change on people and their environment.

The climate is changing, and the scientific community is in agreement on this. However, what does this mean for life on Earth? 'While there are very good models for climate development derived from measurements of countless weather stations, a comparable model for biodiversity development is missing,' explains Lukas Reinhold, who oversees the AMMOD project for the Technical University of Hamburg and helped set up a monitoring station on the Energieberg in the Georgswerder district of Hamburg. Sensors are intended to automatically capture pollen and spores in the air, plant scents are classified using a 'chemical nose,' animals are filmed, and animal sounds are recorded and classified. A few meters away stands a beetle trap where insects are collected using a mesh tent for later counting and evaluation. Additionally, a weather station records all relevant data. Already by summer 2022, it is evident that a significant portion of insect biomass has disappeared in Germany over the last 20 years.

The problem aims to be scientifically addressed through the 'AMMOD - Automated Multi-Sensor Station for Biodiversity Monitoring' project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), a collaboration of several partners with various tasks. The overall project is coordinated by the Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity/Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn. Here, they specialize in the genetic identification of insects, known as metabarcoding. For the Technical University of Hamburg, the Institute for High-Frequency Technology (IHF) coordinates nationwide research and development efforts for the base station of such AMMOD sites.

The strength of the two energy technicians within the North German real-world laboratory lies in integrated network planning, combining electricity, gas, and heat networks. 'Specifically, we examine end-energy demands and forecasts, as well as data on existing network infrastructures. In simpler terms, our aim is to be able to make statements about who, when, and how much energy is needed in which form,' explains Christian Becker. Together with Arne Speerforck, they compare various options for coordinated network expansion, considering whether electricity should be generated directly on-site or whether a gas, heat, or electricity line is more sensible. 'Our power grid reacts highly sensitively to the smallest changes. With the progression of the energy transition, the number of power-generating plants that feed energy into the network has increased.

We are no longer dealing solely with large, sluggish coal or nuclear power plants but with many small wind and solar power plants,' Becker explains. When weather conditions are poor, these installations do not contribute to the electricity network. This alters the frequency in the network. According to Becker, this frequency must remain within a defined and narrow range to ensure network stability. Otherwise, a blackout—a power outage—threatens, with far-reaching consequences for all of Europe. By coupling the electricity sector with the heat and gas sectors, power can be stored and buffered more effectively. Consequently, the power grid responds more slowly to disruptions. 'Ultimately, our goal is to develop the best solution for us humans,' explain the TU researchers.

Further information

Information about the project can be found at: https://ammod.de/

Read the entire article in the current issue (in German)