This project will create an independent research team able to achieve excellent scientific results in a European strategic and multidisciplinary topic at the frontier between the astrophysics and the physics of the atmosphere. The final goal of the project is to set-up an automatic system for 3D simulations and forecasts of the optical turbulence (OT) above astronomical sites. The 'optical turbulence' is the name given to the turbulence typically produced by the earth atmosphere and affecting the resolution and quality of images obtained at the focus of ground-based telescopes. The forecasting of the OT is fundamental for astronomers to know, in advance, the spatial and temporal distribution of the OT above a telescope and to select and schedule scientific p rograms (the so called 'flexible-scheduling') to be executed. The financial resources invested in ground-based astronomy are huge and only en efficient management of a telescope can get ground-based astronomy competitive with respect to the spatial one. Th e technique and the tools that we plan to use to achieve the scientific goals are absolutely original and innovative at international level. The scientific strategy as well as the technique was proposed by the Team Leader of this project a few years ago an d now has been completely validated. The forecast of the OT will be achieved with the employment of a non-hydrostatic meso-scale model carefully calibrated with the support of dedicated measurements. This project can trigger a revolution of the operation o f the observational ground-based astronomy. The technique proposed in this project is the only one, at present time, that can provide a solution to a precise need of the astrophysics and can place Europe as leader in this research field. Besides this, the technique proposed will also permit to yield new insights on mechanisms of formation and development of the optical turbulence not accessible by other methods. '
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