Internship Sonnblick Observatory

The Sonnblick Observatory offers the special opportunity to experience the daily routine of the unique research station located in 3.106 m above sea level in the Austrian Alpes in form of an internship. I was very honoured, when I was told that my application for the 14-day internship at the observatory was accepted. After the experience, I have to say that my expectations were far more then met.

But first I want to introduce myself. My name is Nina Maherndl, currently I am studying for my Master’s degree in physics at the University of Vienna where I have completed my Bachelor’s degree as well (also in physics). I specialise in aerosol physics, which is why I am especially interested in aerosol research at the Sonnblick Observatory. 

I was hoping to further develop my already existing skills in aerosol physics and measurement technology through the internship, which I succeeded in. I could for example help in calibrating a optical aerosol particle counter (OPC) and measure the flow of different condensation particle counters (CPCs). But I also learned a lot through meteorological routine tasks. Every hour the current weather has to be passed for air traffic, which I could already do completely by myself in the second week. Changing filters of different measuring devices war also part of my daily / weekly tasks. I was able to observe the calibration of the UV-measurement device “BENTHAM” (BOKU) and take part in collecting data form permafrost boreholes.

Most of the time two technicians and I worked together at the observatory. But also the Sonnblick team located in Salzburg accessed the observatory for special tasks. I got along very well with them and they taught me a lot during the two weeks. I had my own room to sleep in and was able to use the well-equipped observatory kitchen.

Nina Maherndl on the wind tower of the Sonnblick Observatory.

Regarding the weather, I experienced almost every possibility ranging from a blue sky with lots of sunshine over snow, hail and thunderstorms to (multiple) rainbows.

I would recommend an internship at the Sonnblick Observatory to all young atmospheric scientists or otherwise in earth sciences interested people whole heartedly, as long as they aren’t scared of heights.