Through the initiative of the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection, a consortium agreement was signed on July 16, 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). The Technische Universität München (TUM) and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) joined the consortium agreement on October 12, 2007, and the Universität Augsburg joined on September 10, 2008.
The consortium agreement has the scientific goals of establishing a Virtual Institute within the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus (UFS), and for developing this Virtual Institute as a center 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 in the areas of climate and atmospheric observations, satellite data validation, high-altitude medicine, and the 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 and are represented by their respective presidents.