Institute of atmospheric sciences and climate (ISAC)


This Institute was founded in 2002, by the unification, foreseen in the general norms of reorganization of CNR, of four previously existing entities:

  • Institute of Physics of the atmosphere (IFA), Rome
  • Institute of Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences (ISAO), Bologna
  • Institute for the Study of Atmospheric Pollution and Agrometeorology (ISIATA), Lecce
  • Institute of Cosmo-Geophysics (Section of Geophysics) (ICGF), Turin

ISAC has a staff of around 130 researchers and technicians that follow 4 "Themes" and a "Technical Structure Service", whose activities are:

Dynamic meteorology
The main themes included in this section are basic and applied meteorology, dynamics of atmosphere and turbulence on all scales of motion, from the boundary layer to planetary circulation, including dynamic climatology and climate regionalization. The methodologies used (analytical, numerical, construction of models, and data analysis both of observation campaigns and laboratory experiments) are those of geophysical fluidodynamics. Themes of applied research involve models of turbulence and dispersion of pollutants in the planetary boundary layer, long, mid, and short-term meteorological forecast, global meteo-climate, also atmosphere-ocean combined.
Geographical areas of specific general and application interest are those of the middle latitudes, with particular reference to the Mediterranean and Alpine area.

Climate Change
The main themes concern the study of the behaviour of the earth climate system with particular focus on the physical processes that define the exchanges of energy between the earth's surface and atmosphere and the processes of interaction of solar radiation and earth radiation with the atmosphere of our planet. In this context, the activities of research are mainly aimed at (1) the study of the various physical processes able to produce variations of noteworthy importance on the balance of energy of the earth climatic system, and particularly cloud and aerosol radiative forcing and models (physics and chemistry) of aerosols and the other reactive atmospheric constituents on the local and regional scale, and (2) the reconstruction and analysis of historical series of climatic and meteorological data, to obtain accurate information on the climatic changes of the past and draw useful indications on the forecasts of future climate changes.

Earth Observations
The unifying element of this Section is the use of data obtained from space, the earth's ground, and in situ for the observation and study of physical processes and phenomena that occur in the earth's atmosphere and in the sea. Many of the tools used for ground or in situ measures have been developed, at least partly, at our institute, while the institute itself has often been involved in international working groups related to the realization of new space missions, the development of the protocols, and the use of data. The scientific themes have wide overlapping areas with the other Theme Sections and include issues of physics and chemistry of the atmosphere and sea.

Atmospheric processes
This Section includes two sectors of great interest for the issues of climate:
(1) Atmospheric Chemistry: The activities of research schematically articulate on three interdependent topics: i) aerosol/clouds interaction, cloud chemistry and effects on the climate; ii) physics and chemistry of the aerosol in different regions of the globe and effects on the climate; iii) chemical transport models on a regional scale.
(2) Clouds and Precipitations: The interest of this group involves crucial aspects of the study of the clouds, precipitation, and precipitating systems, without restriction of scales or methodologies. The main themes are: a) microphysics of the clouds and physics of atmospheric aerosol, b) formation of precipitations, with particular focus on hail and the physics of atmospheric ice, c) interaction between e.m. waves and hydrometeor, also as a base for the fundamental radarmeteorology, d) meteorology from satellites and Nowcasting, to estimate the intensity of precipitation and the study of the extratropical cyclone.
(4)Preservation of cultural heritage: The research is focused on atmospheric sciences applied to the preservation of cultural heritage, which is a priority sector both at national and European level. Experimental activity, in laboratory and in field, modelling, new sensors, methodologies and tools are developed for the diagnosis and the prevention against deterioration of cultural heritage. The aim is preservation, by counteracting the direct and indirect impact of environmental factors which deteriorate artistic, historic, archaeological and architectural assets.

Field facilities and instrumental division
This structure was set up to equip the institute with suitable tools to take up more advanced technological challenges. It should act as a driving force for the different scientific sections in the realm of experimental activities, while maintaining a "transversal" character in its work, with respect to that of the thematic sections. ISAC has six experimental basis distributed over national territory: