The Kanzelhöhe Observatory in Austria

The Kanzelhöhe Observatory in Austriaarticle picture
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2012 The Kanzelhöhe Observatory for Solar and Environmental Research is located on the Gerlitzen, a mountain near Lake Ossiach and the city of Villach in Carinthia, the southernmost state of Austria. The observations take place at the western edge of the Klagenfurter Basin at 1526 m above sea level, roughly 1000 m above the valley bottom.

As knowledge about radio propagation evolved it became obvious that the earthly Ionosphere is affected by solar activity. The Observatory was founded in the early nineteen-forties to study these effects and since this time the Sun has been systematically observed every day. The full disk images of the Photosphere (Sun Spots) and the Chromosphere (Flares) are also provided to international observation networks and the internet.

From the beginning classical meteorological observations have also been carried out at the Kanzelhöhe Observatory. With the increasing scientific and public interest in climate change the fields of research were extended to cover this subject, especially with regard to solar radiation and its interaction with the atmosphere.

Kanzelhöhe Observatory is the only observatory in Austria covering these fields of interest and is affiliated to the Institute of Physics at the University of Graz; specifically the Department of Geophysics, Astrophysics and Meteorology. The observing programmes are defined by the scientific objectives of the working groups of the institute. At the Observatory the instruments and observing methods are developed, the measurements and observations are performed, and validation and archiving of data is done.

Due to its isolated location the observatory has an independent infrastructure, from an independent emergency power generating system to a well equipped workshop that enables the staff to perform all necessary mechanical, electrical, and electronic work. Today almost all of the observations and measurements are obtained and saved in digital formats, therefore it is possible to provide access to real-time data via the internet from all over the world.

In the field of atmospheric physics direct, global and diffuse solar irradiance and downwards infrared radiation are measured continuously. For this purpose Kipp & Zonen instruments are operated on a SOLYS 2 sun tracker. The sun tracker carries a pyrheliometer (CHP 1), two ventilated pyranometers (CM 22), and a ventilated pyrgeometer (CG 4). With this instrument setup it is possible to achieve the quality requirements of the Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN).

As part of the Austrian UV measurement network the SOLYS 2 also carries two UVS-AB-T radiometers, for global and diffuse UVA and UVB. In addition there is a CSD 3 sunshine duration sensor.

Kanzelhöhe Observatory is also involved in projects investigating the potential of photovoltaic systems on the basis of an ideal infrastructure combined with the high quality measurement of solar radiation.

For more information about the Kanzelhöhe Observatory please visit

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