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Hohe Tauern National Park Science Center – Weather & Climate Lab

The Science Center at Hohe Tauern National Park offers a five-part interactive introduction to the subject of the weather, including an experimental approach to the winds and clouds as well as research into the effects of irradiation and temperature and the specific role of the Alps in the context of the supraregional climate. The greenhouse effect and climate change are addressed and joint responses developed. The module forms the ideal basis for the Climate School launched and managed by the National Park.

Please click here for a detailed project description...

Fields: Education
Location: Hohe Tauern National Park / Austria
Start: 09.09.2007
Project period: open-end for the climate module; initially until 2012 for the Climate School
Contact: Valeria Hochgatterer, Nationalpark Hohe Tauern (e-mail)

Zentrum für Umwelt und Kultur

Objectives

The ability to understand, describe and explain the natural processes occurring in the world around us is a key aspect of awareness-raising for sustainable nature protection.
As the Hohe Tauern National Park with its flora and fauna and the people living in the region are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change, the park’s Science Center has been established to enable young people above all to experience the relevant processes in the earth’s weather lab, and to research them and experiment independently. Awareness-building is achieved through interaction and informal learning processes. The goal is not to instil a feeling of insecurity but to empower the public at large to take the right decisions (e.g. as consumers) and to generate the conviction in each individual that everyone can make a contribution to mitigating climate change.

Activities

The Weather & Climate Lab, which accepts bookings at all times, is a fully functional weather station attached to the National Park Visitor Center (complete with an online link to the Sonnblick Observatory and a weather station on Spitzbergen). That enables visitors to experience weather as a local phenomenon and understand climate at the global level at the same time. An experimental approach based on five aspects of the weather, namely temperature, humidity, air pressure, foehn and wind, is used to explain the processes that determine the weather. Climate change is explained as are the extreme climatic conditions to be encountered in the high mountains. An atmospheric CO2 model is available, where the greenhouse effect can be measured after just a few minutes in a first-hand experience. The knowledge communicated then serves as the basis for a discussion of future options and is also the foundation for the Climate School starting in autumn 2008. After attending classes for a few days, pupils will have a high level of awareness for the problems of climate change.

Results (CO2 savings)

In addition to the environmental education provided by the National Park rangers in the “green classroom”, scientific knowledge is the focus at the National Park Science Center, which has been attended by 1,654 pupils since September 2007. That is another big step forward for the environmental education programme developed for the National Park, where the impacts of climate change – from glacial retreat to shifts in the fauna and flora – are to be seen every day. The climate module is also a key component of the Climate School, a mobile National Park school that will be calling on 46 partner schools and other schools in the region as of autumn 2008 to offer an interactive learning experience relating to meteorology and climate change, including experiments to make the greenhouse effect and its impacts real to the pupils, who will then be able to participate in a problem-solving process on the principle of “think global, act local”.

Organisation

Nationalpark Hohe Tauern – the National Park’s Salzburg office and the Secretariat of the Hohe Tauern National Park Council – co-ordination office for the supra-regional work of the park offices in Carinthia, Tyrol and Salzburg