In the early last century, pioneering scientists in Switzerland set up an international research center initiative for atmospheric and environmental science issues, combining chemical and physical measurements in an innovative manner. After having finished the railway from Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch, which is still the highest railway station in Europe, the conditions for the construction of the station were met. Influenced not least by the events of World War I, it took almost 10 years until 1922 for the project to be officially approved and implemented with the establishment of the international foundation. Another 10 years later, in 1931, the research station was officially inaugurated.
From the very beginning, international cooperation was given high priority, so it is not surprising that the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (now Max Planck Society) from Germany and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, among others, were founding members of the foundation. Based on this 100-year cooperation, both the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh) and the Gesellschaft Österreichischer Chemiker (GÖCH) supported this nomination. The cooperation of the three Alpine countries as well as seven other European countries is underlined by the Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO) initiative and the regular symposia that guarantee scientific exchange throughout the community.
International collaboration has been and still is the key of the success of the Jungfraujoch Research Station. This award is in particular granted in recognition of the pioneering work and exceptional “liaison réussie” between the research group of Prof. Marcel Migeotte (1912-1992) with collaborators from the University of Liège, Belgium, and the International Foundation of the High Altitude Research Stations Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat (HFSJG), Switzerland.
History was made at this alpine site in terms of the early identification and first fundamental measurements of harmful atmospheric constituents, such as anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and evidence of how their presence in our atmosphere has changed over the last 70 years. Our current understanding of atmospheric chemistry and physics in the context of Earth’s climate system would not be possible without their visionary approach.
The Swiss Chemical Society organised a symposium to celebrate the Award. The invited speakers have introduced the wide range of research areas related to Jungfraujoch, or to high altitude processes. The names and abstracts of the speakers can be read in the booklet of the event.
In addition to scientific topics, the outstanding historical and international significance of the station was highlighted by those who are the closest to it. These sessions were not only extremely informative, but also demonstrated the passion and drive of those working at the peak of Jungfrau.
President of International Foundation of the High Altitude Research Stations Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat Foundation (HFSJG), Prof. Silvio Decurtins proudly discussed the scientific milestones related to Jungfraujoch in its welcome address, and towards the end of the symposium, a letter by Dr. Ginnette Roland was read – who spent 60 years working at Jungfraujoch. Her experiences of being part of this research endeavour for more than half a decade as well as the anecdotes she shared received huge applause from the audience.
You can learn more about the event here.
Find more images, kindly provided by the Swiss Chemical Society here.