Physical-meteorological observatory

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Physical-Meteorological Observatory Davos

The Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium (also: Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos and World Radiation Center (PMOD / WRC) ) in Davos is an institute for climatology , solar and earth atmosphere research founded in 1907 . Since 1922 it has belonged to the Swiss Research Institute for High Mountain Climates and Medicine Foundation , and since 1971 it has performed a mandate as a world radiation center of the World Meteorological Organization .


In 1904, the German chemist Carl Dorno moved to Davos in the hope of a cure for his daughter who had tuberculosis . In 1907 he founded the physical meteorological observatory in the Villa Dora (today Oberwiesstrasse 4) with his own resources for the scientific investigation of the touted healing power of the mountain health resort . Because of his work, Davos was the best studied climatic health resort in Europe. The geophysicist Paul Götz worked with Dorno from 1919 until he founded his own observatory in Arosa in 1921. In 1923 Fritz Loewe also worked as Dorno's assistant. In the 1920s, Wilhelm Gustloff, who later became the national group leader of the NSDAP foreign organization, was employed at the PMOD. Around 1922, due to inflation in Germany , Dorno had to join his PMOD to the SFI. When he resigned in 1926, the observatory was completely incorporated into the foundation as the Physical-Meteorological Observatory Davos (PMOD).

In the foreground in the middle the old school building Davos Dorf, in which the PMOD / WRC is at home today

Then briefly headed the Swedish state meteorologist Frederik Lindholm (born December 19, 1883 in Pitea, † November 20, 1963 in Stockholm) the PMOD. Walter Mörikofer from Basel followed him from 1929 to 1966 . On his initiative, uniform measuring regulations were drawn up for the first time for the around 600 radiation measuring stations worldwide. After 1964 Davos became the calibration center for radiation measuring instruments. Under the direction of Emil Flach, the establishment of the World Radiation Center (WRC) was pushed forward together with the Central Meteorological Institute (now the Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology ), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Swiss Confederation . Since 1971, the institute has maintained the worldwide reference for radiation on behalf of WMO. The calibration of all pyrheliometers can therefore be traced back to a group of precise instruments at the PMOD / WRC. Claus Fröhlich took over the management of this area of ​​activity of the PMOD from 1971, and from 1974 the management of the entire institute. He was replaced by Werner Schmutz in 1999. The Northern Irish physicist Louise Harra has been the director of the institute since June 1, 2019.

Since the 1970s, various experiments have been carried out at the PMOD that measure solar radiation from great heights or in space during weather balloon flights as well as rocket and satellite missions. PMOD / WRC instruments have been or are being operated on the research satellites EURECA , SOHO , Picard and the ISS space station . The data obtained in this way were an important basis for researching the variability of the solar constant .

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Coordinates: 46 ° 48 '47.6 "  N , 9 ° 50' 40.3"  E ; CH1903:  783592  /  187490