On the initiative of the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection, a consortium agreement was signed on 16 July 2007 by the Free State of Bavaria, the Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Center – DLR), the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe Research Centre – FZK), the Helmholtz Zentrum München (German Research Center for Environmental Health – HMGU) as well as the Federal Republic of Germany represented by the federal agencies of the Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Meteorological Service – DWD) and the Umweltbundesamt (Federal Environment Agency – UBA). This consortium agreement was acceded to by the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) on 12 October 2007 and by the Universität Augsburg on 10 September 2008.
The consortium agreement has the scientific goal of establishing a Virtual Institute within the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus (UFS) and of developing this Virtual Institute to a centre of competence for altitude and climate research in the framework of an international network. The main emphasis of the Virtual Institute is to promote the development, demonstration and implementation of innovative technologies for climate and atmospheric observations, validation of satellite data, high-altitude medicine and early detection of natural hazards.
A Consortium Board, which deals with policy issues of the consortium, and a Science Team, which guarantees the scientific quality of the Virtual Institute, have been established.
All members of the consortium hold a seat in the consortium board through their respective presidents.