Energy balance measurements in the Namib desert. Started August 1, 2009.
URBANFLUXES stands for "URBan ANthrpogenic heat FLUX from Earth observation Satellites" and is a Horizon 2020 funded space research project, coordinated by the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (Greece).
Exploiting earth observation in sustainable urban planning & management
Contribution of the University of Basel towards the "Meteorological measurements in the Barringer Meteor Crater" project for the examination of downslope windstorm-type flows.
Urban climate study of Bucharest, Romania.
BRIDGE is a joint effort of 14 European Organizations aiming at incorporating sustainability aspects in urban planning processes, accounting for some well recognised relations between urban metabolism and urban structure. The local measurement program consist of an additional street canyon tower and an additional flux site.
The Hyper-Swiss-Net project aims at developing and supporting the scientific expertise and infrastructure in Switzerland for the exploitation of imaging spectrometry technology for different Earth observation applications
Investigation of birch pollen production and emission by combining experimental and modeling work in order to quantify the released pollen in relation to turbulence characteristics and micrometeorological parameters around a pollen source.
Former projects
A list of former projects of the MCR Unibas

Tower upside down
Flower in the desert
Not a flower in the desert
Still not a flower in the desert

Project description

GobaBas means Micrometeorological Research of the University of Basel in Gobabeb or if you want Gobabebian Research of University of Basel.

With GobaBas we want to contribute to the understanding of the micrometeorology/-climatology of such exceptional environments. Long-term measurements of the components of the surface energy balance in desert landscapes are rare. We take advantage of the excellent infrastructure of the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre to carry out the flux measurements. We cooperate also with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) which observes land surface temperatures.

The surface energy balance equation can be simplified to

Rn + G = H + LE,

where Rn is the net radiation, G the soil heat flux, H the turblent sensible heat flux and LE the turbulent latent heat flux. All terms are in W m-2.

The left hand side can be regarded as the available energy which is partitioned into the turbulent heat fluxes on the right hand side. Net radiation Rn is measured at the 30 m tower close to Gobabeb by KIT at a height of 3.5m using a CNR1. Since July 2011 MCR measures Rn also at 30 m height with a CNR4. Initially we planned to measure the soil heat flux G and the sensible heat flux H in order to estimate LE as a residual term. But due to remaining uncertainties measurements of the latent heat flux were added. Since March 2011 all components of the surface energy balance are recorded.


The Gobabeb Research and Training Centre is located in western Namibia on the transition between the southern Namib sand desert and the northern Namib gravel plains. Because of the location near the Kuiseb River, which sharply marks the sand desert from the gravel plains within few hundred meters, it is possible to observe a wide range of environmental characteristics on small spatial dimensions. Gobabeb lies approximately 40 km eastward from the Namibian coastal line, where the Benguala current flows northwards along the west african coast. The cold water of the Benguela current not only determines the dry climate but also provides the most important source of water for most of the living entity due to early morning fog belts.

Gobabeb was founded in 1962 as the Namib Desert Reasearch Station by Dr. Charles Koch (1904-1970). During the last 50 years Gobabeb always was an important oasis which provides the opportunity to conduct research on environmental systems for different purposes. Up to now Gobabeb is a internationally well known reasearch station, as many scientists from all over the world visted the station to perform their individual research projects. Nowadays, Gobabeb also provides training programs. The research and educational work in Gobabeb is highly regarded and even important in terms of sustainable development and environmental awareness on a global scale.

More information about Gobabeb is available on the official web page at http://www.gobabebtrc.org/

MicroMet Tower since Nov 2012

Instrumental Setup

Energy Balance Measurements are taken at the 30 m tower which is located 1.5 km north of Gobabeb in the Namib gravelplains ( GoogleMaps). Since early 2008 the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) maintains there a LST reference site recording surface temperature, net radiation and auxiliary meteorological measurements. End of July 2009 MCR added instruments to measure surface energy balance. Further changes in set-up and additions are documented in the table below.

Meteorological Element Instrument/Manufacturer Height [m] ΔTime Who Period Scan rate Remarks
Air temperature, Relative Humidity HMP45C / Vaisala 1.9 / 25 1 min KIT 30.1.2008 - 11.11.2012 15s -
Air temperature, Relative Humidity HMP45C / Vaisala 3.0 / 23.5 1 min KIT 11.11.2012 - 15s Both levels repositioned
Wind speed Young Propeller 2 / 3.2 / 25.3 1 min KIT 30.1.2008 - 11.11.2012 15s Top boom ca. 0.7 m / Bottom boom ca. 1.5 m
Wind speed Young Propeller 15.2 1 min KIT 11.1.2012 - 1 Hz Lower level taken away. Upper level repositioned
Surface temperature KT15, Heimann 25 (2x) 1 min KIT 30.1.2008 - 15 s One removed in 2012
Sky temperature KT15, Heimann 4.3 1 min KIT 30.1.2008 - 15s -
Components of net radiation CNR1, Kipp & Zonen 3.1 1 min KIT 30.1.2008 - 15s -
Soil temperature profile TH3, UMS GmbH -0.05 / -0.1 / -0.2 / -0.3 / -0.5 1 min MCR 1.9.2009 - 19.11.2010 1 Hz -
Soil temperature profile TH3,
-0.05 / -0.1 / -0.2 / -0.3 / -0.5 / -1.0 1 min MCR 15.7.2011 - 5 s -
Soil temperature ST107, Campbell -0.04 (3x) 1 min MCR 1.9.2009 2 s* -
Heat flux plates HFT3, REBS Instruments -0.05 (3x) 1 min MCR 1.9.2009 2 s* -
Heat flux plates HFP01, Hukseflux -0.05 (2x) 1 min MCR 1.9.2009 2 s* -
Wind vector, acoustic temperature CSAT3, Campbell 5.3 / 27.2 1 min / 30min MCR 1.9.2009 - 1.3.2011 20 Hz -
Wind vector, acoustic temperature CO 2, H2O concentration CSAT3, Campbell
Li7500, LiCOR
14.5 1 min,
MCR 1.3.2011 - 5.11.2012 10 Hz -
Components of net radiation CNR4, Kipp & Zonen 30 1 min MCR 12.7.2011 - 0.5 Hz -
Wind vector, acoustic temperature
CO2, H2O concentration
EC150, Campbell 23.5 1 min,
MCR 15.7.2012 - 10 Hz Distance from tower ca. 1.5m
Wind vector, acoustic temperature CSAT3, Campbell 3.3 15.7.2012 - - Distance from tower ca. 2m
Air temperature Thermocouples, Type E, 75 µm 0.06 / 0.39 / 0.42 / 0.57 / 0.89 / 1.17 / 2.17 / 3.67 (2x) / 5.67 / 8.67 / 11.67 / 14.67 / 18.67 / 22.17 / 24.17 / 26.17 / 28.17 / 29.67 4 Hz / 1 min / 10min MCR 09.07.2012 - 5.11.2012 4 Hz -
Air temperature, ventilated ASPTC, Type E, 75µm 3.67 4 Hz, 1 min, 10min MCR 09.07.2012 - 05.11.2012 4 Hz -
Air temperature, ventilated ASPTC, Type E, 75µm 3.0 / 23.5 4 Hz / 1 min / 10 min MCR 05.11.2012 - 4 Hz -
Wind direction WAV14 wind vane 27.1 MCR 05.11.2012 - 1s -
Wind speed cup anemometers 2xNRG#40 / 3 x WAA15 27.2 27.1 / 23.6 / 10.3 10.1 1 min / 10min MCR /Poly 05.11.2012- 1s -

Data from KIT are sampled with a CR1000 (Campbell). Data from MCR are sampled with a CR3000. Fluxes are calculated online and are stored as 1 min and 30 min averages.

Raw data time series are stored most of the time. *= before 12.7.2011 scan rate was 1 s. November 2012 fast and slow measurements from MCR were separated to two CR3000.

BSRN on the rock(s)

Tracker close-up

Time flies like an arrow some flies do disturb us

Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN)

Practically all energy comes through radiation from the sun to our Earth. On average 1360 W m-2 arrive on top of the atmosphere. On its travel part of it interacts with the atmosphere (reflection, scattering, absorption) and the Earth's surface receives direct and diffuse solar (shortwave) radiation from the sun and long-wave radiation from the atmosphere. From the surface part of the shortwave incoming is reflected and long-wave radiation is emitted. A detailed knowledge of the incoming and outgoing radiation fluxes at the Earth's surface is essential for modeling weather and climate. Therefore such data "are of primary importance in supporting the validation and confirmation of satellite and computer model estimates of these quantities."

The BSRN fulfills this task. "At a small number of stations (currently about 40) in contrasting climatic zones, covering a latitude range from 80°N to 90°S, solar and atmospheric radiation is measured with instruments of the highest available accuracy and with high time resolution (1 to 3 minutes). "BSRN is a project of the Radiation Panel from the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment GEWEX under the umbrella of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and as such is aimed at detecting important changes in the Earth's radiation field at the Earth's surface which may be related to climate changes.

MCR from University of Basel together with Gobabeb and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) installed a BSRN compatible station in Gobabeb on the prominent "radiation rock" where in former times global radiation was measured with an analog Fuess-Robitzsch bimetal radiation recorder. In a technical assistance agreement these three institutions made a solemn vow to carry out these measurements at least for six years (end 2018).

More details can be picked from the BSRN project page and data can be seen on Dolueg


Studying in Gobabeb

Students Field Course

Data Logger

Field Course on Meteorological Measurement and Instrumention

MCR Lab offers a field course on meteorological measurement and instrumentation on an annual basis for BSc students in Geosciences at the University of Basel. In August 2010 the course took place for the first time in Gobabeb and was held also in August 2012 and 2014. In the future every second year a group of 10-20 students will come to Gobabeb to learn with practical field work how to set up meteorological measurement systems, sample and analyze the data and present results in a final little scientific conference. Further the students have to analyse and present scientific data of their own measurements during several sessions. The 8 days field course finishes with a 4 day bus excursion in the area of the lower Kuiseb river, Swakopmund and Erongo.



The SASSCAL contribution to climate observation, climate data management and data rescue in Southern Africa, Adv. Sci. Res., 12, 171-177, doi:10.5194/asr-12-171-2015, 2015 Kaspar, F., Helmschrot, J., Mhanda, A., Butale, M., de Clercq, W., Kanyanga, J. K., Neto, F. O. S., Kruger, S., Castro Matsheka, M., Muche, G., Hillmann, T., Josenhans, K., Posada, R., Riede, J., Seely, M., Ribeiro, C., Kenabatho, P., Vogt, R., and Jürgens, N. 

Masters Thesis

Energy balance at the Gobabeb site. 2013. Koller, Patrick
Characteristics of turbulent exchange in a desert environment. 2013. Schmutz, Michael
Analysis of BSRN data. In process. Allemann, Matthias


Bachelor Thesis

Micrometeorological characteristics of the arid Namib Desert environment. 2011. Rieper, Christoph
Die meteorologischen Verhältnisse an einem Wüstenstandort. 2012. Neff, Basil
Charakterisierung der Schichtungsverhältnisse und des turbulenten Austauschs mittels zeitlich hoch aufgelöster Temperaturprofile an einem Wüstenstandort. 2012. Schmutz, Michael
Vegetationsdynamik in Namibia anhand von MODIS-Satellitendaten - Beispiel einer niederschlagsarmen Regenzeit. 2012 Buol, Amanda
Vormittägliches Nebelaufkommen an der Atlantikküste Namibias. 2012 Heller, Sann
Die Albedo im Umfeld der Wüstenforschungsstation Gobabeb. 2013. Pescarino, Nicandro
Analyse der neueren Windmessungen in Gobabeb. 2013. Lütolf, Pascal
Untersuchung von Kohlendioxid-Flussmessungen in der Namib. 2014 Rütimann, Mihal
Investigation of ceilometer-derived mixing layer heights from a desert site. 2016. Rölli, Thomas


Wüste Meteorologie in Namibia. MCR Aktuell, Uni Basel, 11/2010. Vogt, Roland
Wüste Meteorologie und thermale Turbulenzen - Turbulenzvisualisierung mit einer Thermalkamera. Institutskolloquium IHM TU Dresden, 6.1.2011. Vogt, Roland
Desert Meteorology and Thermal Turbulence. Gobabeb, 9.2.2011. Vogt, Roland
Gobabebian Research in Micrometeorology. Gobabeb colloquium of the Royal Society of South Africa. Desert research: past and future. Apr 30 and May 1, 2012. Vogt, Roland
Radiation Measurement in Gobabeb, Namibia. Twelfth BSRN Scientific Review and Workshop AWI, Potsdam, Germany 1-3 August 2012. Vogt, Roland
Wüste Meteorologie (mit aktuellen Ergebnissen). Arbeitskreis Klima, 26.-28.12.12, Berlin. Vogt, Roland
The 4th F: Fog, First results from FogNet. 1st FogLife colloquium, 11-13 November 2014 at Gobabeb Vogt, Roland
Meteorological research carried out by MCR, Uni Basel, in Gobabeb, Namibia. Namibia Research Day, 26.9.2014, Uni Basel Vogt, Roland
FogNet - FogLife   Boone and bane of measurements in the desert.  2nd FogLife colloquium, 15-18 June 2015 at Gobabeb  Vogt, Roland
FogNet - Nebelbeobachtung in der Zentralen Namib oder  Auf dass der Nebel sich lichtet, 34. Jahrestreffen des Arbeitskreises Klima, 2015, Hattingen an der Ruhr Vogt, Roland


Playing in the Champions League of Radiation Measurement. Gobabeb Open Day, Sep 22, 2012. Vogt, Roland
Where the Tower Meets its Shadow: Micrometeorological Measurements in Gobabeb. Gobabeb Open Day, Sep 22, 2012. Vogt, Roland; Olesen, Folke
EDDY MATRIX: TESTING ASSUMPTIONS OF SURFACE-ATMOSPHERE EXCHANGE UNDER IDEAL CONDITIONS AT GOBABEB, NAMIBIA. Gobabeb Open Day, Sep 22, 2012. Eilzer, Heidi; Engelmann, Christian; Mihm, Friedrich; Richter, Undine; Säurich, Annelie; Tomaszewski, Gregor; Eichelmann, Uwe; Bernhofer, Christian
Two years of BSRN measurements in Gobabeb, Namibia. 13th BSRN Scientific Review and Workshop - Bologna 9-12 Sep 2014 Vogt, Roland

Gobabas Calendar

The following list provides an overview of the stations history and future projects.

  • RV - Roland Vogt
  • EA - Egon Alter
  • PK - Patrick Koller
  • AP - Andrea Pitacco
  • MM - Mathias Mueller
  • EP - Eberhard Parlow
  • HRR - Hansrudolf Rueegg
  • MS - Michael Schmutz
  • SB - Serafin Bieder
  • MR - Mihal Rütimann
  • CF - Christian Feigenwinter
  • RS - Robert Spirig
  • JL - Jarl Are Larsen


  • MaMo - Margherita Morgantin
  • SK - Sara Koller
  • GK - Gereon Klein
  • VM - Vera Marx
  • UJ - Ueli Joss
  • FO - Folke Olesen (KIT)
Date Events Participants
2009/07 Start of Project "Gobabas" RV, PK, FO
2010/02 Thermal camera experiment RV, PK, AP, MaMo, MM, EP
2010/08 Students field course MIP2010 RV, PK, EP, HRR
2010/08 Thermocouple profile 1 RV, MS
2011/02 Mirabib field campaign. Scintillometer, soil heat fluxes, radiometer intercomparison RV, PK, AP, MM, EP, GK, VM
2011/05 Removal of two sonics. Start with radiation measurements "on the rocks" RV
2011/07 Second scintillometer campaign. Start of net radiation at 30m with CNR4. Replacement of soil temperature profile. RV, PK, SK
2012/01 Dew point mirror tests. General maintenance work. Preparation of BSRN project and field course. RV, AP
2012/04 Installation of BSRN measurement system RV, MS, UJ
2012/07 Thermocouple profile 2. Adding second EC system (EC150) RV, MS
2012/08 Field course MIP2012 with students from Uni Basel and TU Dresden RV, MS, EP
2012/11 Removal of TC profile 2 and one EC system (Li7500). Installation additional wind measurements. Cleaning of all BSRN instruments. Shipped instruments from Mirabib field campaign back to Switzerland. RV, MS
2013/02 BSRN maintenance, diverse works related to HWD and fog collectors RV
2013/07 BSRN exchange of reference CMP22 and CGR4, RadCom inter-comparison (CMP22, CGR4, CNR4, CM22, CG4), exchange of CNR4 at wind mast, house-keeping at wind mast RV, SB
2013/11 Repair of tracker, exchange of reference pyrheliometer RV
2014/02 Installation of ceilometer. Calibration of gas analyzer. Inter-comparison of FOWS wind-run cup anemometer with a reference anemometer. Operation of dewpoint mirror at BSRN station. RV, CF
2014/03 Installation of Neutron probe. Gravimetric soil moisture measurements. Installation of a safety rail at the 30m wind tower. Cleaning of BSRN instruments. RV, RS
2014/06 Assistance with installation of FogNetz RV
2014/08 Field course MIP2014 with students from Uni Basel RV, EP, MS
2014/11 1st FogLife meeting. Maintenance and calibration tour for FogNet. Evaporation pan maintenance. RV
2015/03 Installation of station at Conception Water. FogNet maintenance tour. RV
2015/06 2nd FogLife meeting. FogNet maintenance tour. RV
2015/11 Change of data transmission from GPRS to WiFi. Maintenance trip to Conception RV, MS, AP
2016/02 Installation of station at Salt Works. Completing data transmission via WiFi for wind tower RV, MR
2016/06 Repair of access point.FogNet maintenance tour. Maintenance at Salt Works. RV, MR
2017/02 FogNet maintenance tour. Installation of visibility monitor. Installation of temp. SFC collector. Conception Water visit. Installation of IR120 at several locations RV, RS, JL