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Jammu, 15th May 2024: In another giant step towards achieving excellence in the field of atmospheric and climate science, Central University of Jammu (CUJ) is all set to conduct high altitude aerosol and trace gases research in the North-Western Himalayas under the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Project titled “Ice nucleating particles and cloud condensation nuclei properties in the North-Western Himalayas (ICE-CRUNCH)” with ETH Zürich, Switzerland, funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, GoI and Swiss National Science Foundation, Switzerland.

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Aerosols are the suspended particulates which not only cause air pollution but also have important implications on clouds microphysics, the Earth’s radiation budget, climate and overall ecosystem health. According to IPCC, Aerosol-cloud interactions play a key role in climate forcing, but are the most uncertain of all forcing agents. This gap arises from a lack of fundamental understanding on ice-containing clouds and there is an urgent need for increased spatial coverage of in-situ (field) measurements.
Prof. Sanjeev Jain, Vice-Chancellor, CUJ chaired the kick-off meeting of the project which took place from 10th to 14th May, 2024 in CUJ Campus and shared that this project will lead to establishment of a High Altitude – Himalayan Atmospheric and Climate Research Station (above 2000 mts. from mean sea level) and has a potential to bring Jammu & Kashmir on the global map of atmospheric science and climate research.
Detailed discussion took place on project planning and execution between Dr.Zamin A. Kanji (Swiss-Principal Investigator), Dr. Michael Rösch (Technical partner) and Ms Tuuli Lehmus järvi (PhD Scholar) from ETH Zürich and Dr. Shweta Yadav (Indian-Principal Investigator), Dr. Ankit Tandon (Project partner), Mr Sajan Bandral (PhD Scholar) and Sachidanand Sharma (Project JRF) from CUJ. Dr. Kristy Diener (ETH Zurich) and Prof. S. N. Tripathi (IIT Kanpur) also took part in the deliberations.
The overarching goal of ICE-CRUNCH is to understand the overall contribution of aerosol to liquid and ice forming clouds in the North-Western Himalayan Region. Emphasizing upon the importance of the planned measurements, Dr Kanji (Swiss PI)shared that ICE-CRUNCH involves simultaneous measurements of physical, chemical, biological, cloud forming and ice nucleating properties of aerosols and such comprehensive measurements are essential to protect the vulnerable Himalayan ecosystem, as the Himalayas are abode to many fresh water towers (glaciers) and have unique biodiversity and climate settings.
Dr. Yadav (PI) who is also Associate Dean, International Affairs, CUJ shared that this collaborative research initiative between ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and Central University of Jammu will certainly serve as foundation for long-term research collaboration and continued knowledge exchange between both institutions. She underlined that the Himalayan ecosystem is very sensitive and vulnerable to micro modifications in climate and weather systems induced by various anthropogenic and natural processes and thus this project will help in answering fundamental science questions pertaining to implications of aerosols on climate modifications at regional and global scale. She thanked Prof. Sanjeev Jain, Vice Chancellor, CUJ for his continued guidance and technical suggestions in planning the execution of the project. She also thanked all the support received from all sectors of administration of UT of J&K to head start the project. The ICE-CRUNCH Team is excited and looking forward to successful execution of this project to ensure the sustainability ofHimalayan ecosystem for the benefit of society at large.