Mental patients suffer more from climate change

15 October 2021

A new study by the OCCR draws attention to a previously neglected group that suffers particularly from climate change: psychiatric patients. In this interview, the three main authors of the study explain why mentally ill people are particularly vulnerable.

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Learning from extreme events

23 September 2021

For once, the traditional autumn event of the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks did not take place in a lecture hall, but at the scene of an extreme event, in the centre of Zofingen, a small Swiss town which was severely damaged by a torrential thunderstorm rain in 2017.

Read more (in German)

The first farmers of Europe

31 August 2021

A research team from the OCCR has managed to precisely date pile dwellings on the banks of Lake Ohrid in the south-western Balkans for the first time: they came into being in the middle of the 5th millennium BC. The region around the oldest lake in Europe played a key role in the proliferation of agriculture.

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Porträt von Olivia Romppainen

Understanding future climate risks

27 January 2021

With global warming, extreme events like heatwaves and droughts of unimaginable proportions are becoming a possibility. Olivia Romppainen, co-organizer of an international conference on the subject, explains why we need a better understanding of these combined weather and climate events – so-called compound events.

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Bettina Schaefli

“I’ve always had two mainstays in my career”

7 December 2020

Bettina Schaefli joined the University of Bern a year ago as a professor of hydrology. In this interview, the OCCR member talks about the risks of water and electricity shortages, the importance of field research and the interest in her findings.

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Coral reef

Marine heatwaves are human made

24 September 2020

Heatwaves in the world’s oceans have become over 20 times more frequent due to human influence. This is what researchers from the OCCR are now able to prove. Marine heatwaves destroy ecosystems and damage fisheries.

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Researcher at work in an ice lab

Anthropogenic CO₂ increase is unprecedented

21 August 2020

Even in earlier warm periods there were pulse-like releases of CO₂ to the atmosphere. Today's anthropogenic CO₂ rise, however, is more than six times larger and almost ten times faster than previous jumps in the CO₂ concentration. This is the conclusion reached by a European research team led by the OCCR.

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 “Fires like the ones in Australia threaten Europe, too”

20 January 2020

Willy Tinner is a specialist when it comes to the history of European fires. In this interview, the paleoecologist and OCCR member talks about the link between the bushfires in Australia and climate change, how the symbolic power of fire helps the climate movement and why Mediterranean countries shouldn’t plant any more pine trees.

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Bronze hand of Prêles

Birch tar reveals age of Bronze Age find

18 November 2019

The LARA radiocarbon dating laboratory at OCCR is a leading tool when it comes to analysing small material samples. This know-how was also in demand for dating the bronze hand of Prêles, a find that has made international headlines.

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Diver doing excavation work

Diving and Sawing in the Bay of Bones

24 September 2019

Europe’s first farmers lived in pile dwellings in the Balkans. How did they adapt to new climate conditions and how did they influence their environment? A major EU project, initiated by Bernese researchers, is looking for the answers. We followed the research team for two days.
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Thomas Frölicher giving a talk

“This special climate report is highly topical and necessary”

23 September 2019

Physicist and OCCR member Thomas Frölicher played a central role in the IPCC's report on the ocean and cryosphere (ice, permafrost), which will be published on Wednesday, September 25. In an interview, he explains his role as lead author and talks about how he came to explore heat waves in the sea as an inhabitant of a landlocked country.
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Drilling platform

Europe's oldest lake traces 1.36 million years of climate

3 September 2019

An international team of scientists lead by the OCCR reveals that Lake Ohrid in the South Balkans is indeed Europe's oldest lake. A study published in Nature shows that the lake came into being 1.36 million years ago.
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Painting of Tambora vulcano

Volcanoes shaped the climate before humankind 

25 July 2019 

Five large volcanic eruptions occurred in the early 19th century. They caused cooling and – as a study led by the OCCR shows – to drying in the monsoon regions and glaciers growing in the Alps. The study shows that the pre-industrial climate was not constant: if one takes this cold period as the starting point for current global warming, the climate has already warmed up more than assumed in the current discussions. 
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Floating solar islands

CO₂ from the Oceans could allow for climate-neutral mobility

11 June 2019

Huge floating solar islands on the ocean that produce enough energy to enable CO₂-neutral global freight traffic – what sounds like science fiction could indeed prove to be a major contribution to climate protection. An international group of researchers, including OCCR members, has calculated for the first time, the potential contribution to CO₂ mitigation of this concrete proposal.
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"The Pleasures of Winter", a 17th-century painting by Hendrick Avercamp

The climate is warming faster than it has in the last 2,000 years 

25 July 2019

In contrast to pre-industrial climate fluctuations, current, anthropogenic climate change is occurring across the whole world at the same time. In addition, the speed of global warming is higher than it has been in at least 2,000 years. That’s according to two studies from the OCCR.
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Researcher with an ice core

The oldest ice on Earth may be able to solve the puzzle of the planet’s climate history

9 April 2019

A European research consortium, in which the OCCR is involved in, wants to drill a 1.5 million year old ice core in Antarctica. An analysis of the climate data stored in the ice should contribute to a better understanding of the alternation between warm and cold periods.

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Satellite picture of the earth

Hurricanes going astray make for heavy rainfall in Europe

26 March 2019

Tropical storms that move poleward influence the weather in Europe much more than previously supposed. A study from the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks oft he OCCR shows that the probability of heavy rainfall is twice as high when mid-latitude weather is disrupted by cyclones. These findings could ensure better extreme weather forecasts in the future.

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Research vessel JOIDES Resolution

The deep Southern Ocean is key to more intense ice ages

7 March 2019

Over the last million years, ice ages have intensified and lengthened. According to a study led by the OCCR researchers, this previously unexplained climate transition coincides with a diminution of the mixing between deep and surface waters in the Southern Ocean. The study confirms that the Antarctic region plays a crucial role during periods of climate change.

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Historian Christian Pfister

Christian Pfister, a historian crossing across borders

18 February 2019

The well known German climate scientist Hans von Storch has conducted a series of interviews with impressive scientific personalities. He now teamed up with Heinz Wanner, the founding president of the OCCR to interview the climate historian and OCCR member Christian Pfister. This conversation is a tribute to the the ground-breaking work Christian Pfister has done in connecting climate history with quantitative climate science.
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Thomas Stocker

Preface by Thomas Stocker to the interview with Prof. Christian Pfister

My colleague Christian Pfister is a pioneer: through the ground-breaking work he has done in connecting climate history with quantitative climate science. Not by merely telling stories (he can do that too!), what lay people would expect from historians, but by means of indices, time series, geographical location, stored in the electronic medium. This is how interdisciplinarity emerges, and Christian Pfister laid the foundations for it at the University of Bern. Climate research is not limited to physics, biology and geography, but today it obviously includes the historical and social sciences. It is thanks to Christian Pfister that we in Bern were able to benefit from this expansion at an early stage.
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Diagram explaining the climatic connection between the North Atlantic and Antarctica

The polar regions communicate via "postcards" and "text messages"

29 November 2018

The OCCR was involved in a new study that has found two types of climatic connection between the North Atlantic and Antarctica. One is a rapid atmospheric channel and the other a much slower connection through the ocean. During the last glacial period, these links resulted in abrupt climatic changes – and could so again in future.

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Flooded building

Climate Scenarios CH2018: the warming continues

13 November 2018

Switzerland is becoming drier, hotter and less snowy, and will struggle with heavier rainfall in the future – these are the conclusions reached by climate researchers from MeteoSwiss, ETH Zurich and the OCCR. Today, they presented the Climate Scenarios CH2018 produced on behalf of the Federal Council. These form the basis for the climate change adaptation strategy of the federal government.
Read more.

Early photograph of a flooded square

1868 - a flood that changed Switzerland

12 September 2018

The OCCR has launched a new publication called “1868 - a flood that changed Switzerland”. This 60 pages strong brochure, written for an non-scientific audience, is the fruit of the collaboration of researchers from all fields of the OCCR. The project has produced an in-depth analysis and reconstruction of the flood that affected large parts of the Alpine region in Switzerland in autumn 1868. The brochure can be downloaded free of charge.
Read more (in German) and see a video (in German) that explains the methods used for the reconstruction of the flood of 1868 (in German).

Platform for exploration drilling of the University of Bern for sea sediments at Lake Kastoria
(Platform for exploration drilling of the University of Bern for sea sediments at Lake Kastoria, 2017. Picture: University of Bern/André Lotter.)

6,4 Million Euros for research into the birth of agriculture in Europe

23 October 2018

An interdisciplinary team from the universities of Bern (Oeschger Centre), Oxford and Thessaloniki was awarded a grant of 6.4 million euros from the European Research Council (ERC). The team included researchers from the fields of archeology and biology. They received one of the highly competitive “ERC Synergy Grants”. Aided by studies conducted in the lakes in Greece and in the south of the Balkans, the project should show how the climate, environment and agriculture have developed over the last 10,000 years and what influences these factors have had on each other.

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Coral reef

Marine heatwaves are threatening ecosystems

15 August 2018

Marine heatwaves can irreversibly damage ecosystems and, therefore, also present a threat to fishing. As a team led by OCCR memberThomas Frölicher showed in a study just published in the journal Nature, the number of marine heatwaves has increased dramatically in past decades. This trend will further intensify as a result of climate change.

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People swimming in the river Aare

Hot city summer

2 August 2018

A dense network to measure temperature in Bern provides a detailed three dimensional picture of this summer’s heatwave. OCCR researcher show that the differences between single points of measurement within the city of Bern as well as in its surroundings may differ up to 4 °C. This is an important piece of information to plan measures against heat stress.

Read more (in German).

Ice melting in the Antarctic

Lessons about a future warmer world using data from the past

25 June 2018

A workshop in Bern in April 2017 which was funded by PAGES and the OCCR on the Past Global Changes integrated activity "Warmer Worlds"  has now led to a publication in Nature Geoscience. “Warmer Worlds” uses paleoclimate evidence to assess a future warming. The assessment of past warm periods by an international team of 59 scientists from 17 nations, shows that in response to the warming ecosystems and climate zones will spatially shift and on millennial time scales ice sheets will substantially shrink.

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Jungfraujoch research station

Top of Europe» for greenhouse gas measurements

18 June 2018

The research station at Jungfraujoch where the OCCR group „Environmental Isotopes and Gases“ plays a prominent role is at the top of Europe – and not only because of its unique location. Within the framework of the European research infrastructure „Integrated Carbon Observation System" (ICOS), the laboratory in the heart of the Alps is now officially certified. ICOS provides data to better understand the global carbon cycle and how human activities affect it. The backbone of ICOS is a network of stations that have to meet the highest quality standards.

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Flooded railway station

A collective reminder for forgetful Switzerland

28 May 2018

At the OCCR, the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks aims to better inform authorities and the public about the risks associated with flooding. For this reason, it’s creating an interactive online database of images illustrating floods: the “Collective Flood Memory”.

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Stefan Brönnimann

ERC Advanced Grant for Climate Reconstructions

18 April 2018

OCCR researcher Stefan Brönnimann has received a grant of 3 million Swiss francs from the European Research Council for the next five years. The goal of the funded project PALAEO-RA is to produce a comprehensive reconstruction of global climate of the past six centuries, a palaeo-reanalysis. The reconstruction will provide globally complete, three dimensional monthly fields of many variables and thus allows dynamical interpretations of past climate events. The project combines numerical modelling and mathematical techniques with historical documentary data and measurements, and dynamical analyses.  

Read more (in German)

Hand holding an ice cube

A thermometer for the oceans

4 January 2018

The average sea temperature is an essential parameter of the global climate – but it is very difficult to measure. At least until now, because an international team of researchers including OCCR scientists have now developed a novel method using the concentration of noble gases in the eternal ice. This allows conclusions to be drawn on the changes in sea temperature from the last ice age to the present day.

Damaged meadow after a surface water flood

Surface Water Floods – an Underestimated Risk

23 November 2017

Half of all flood damages are caused by surface water floods. However, recent hazard maps do not take into account this process. On 23 November from 16:15 to 19:00, the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks and the OCCR organize a public event (in German) where different activities regarding research, modelling and mapping of surface water floods as well as prevention strategies will be discussed.

Robert Keohane

Talk on global climate policy by Robert Keohane

24 October 2017

Robert Keohane who is a Professor of International Affairs at Princeton University, will hold a talk at the OCCR on 15 November 2017 about designing a global climate regime without US leadership. He is the author of several highly renowned books and has been awarded the Balzan Prize 2016 for International Relations: History and Theory which will be presented in Bern later this month.

Object at the Our Water show

Exhibition “Our Water” awarded Expo Prize

29 September 2017

The Oeschger Centre is a scientific partner of the exhibition “Our Water: Six Models for the Future“ at the Swiss Alpine Museum (alps). The show has now been awarded Prix Expo 2017 by the Swiss Academy of Sciences. This prize is awarded to exhibitions and related activities that convey the fascination for nature and sciences to a wide public in a thematically competent and experience-oriented way. The jury commended the «independent, courageous, and radical exhibition on a highly topical theme». The exhibition has been prolonged until 7 January 2018.

Read more (in German)

Eric Strobl

Eric Strobl is a new professor for environmental and climate economics

2 October 2017

The German economist Eric Strobl is a new full-time professor for environmental and climate economics at the University of Bern and a member of the OCCR. He researches in particular extreme weather events and the role they play for the economic mechanism in developing countries. With this expertise on conducting empirical evaluations of the effects of climate on the economy, the University of Bern is strengthening the exchange taking place between university research and policy, administration and economy. Eric Strobl fills the newly created endowed professorship for environmental and climate economics.

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Early photograph of alpine farmers

Prehistoric alpine farming in the Bernese Oberland

6 April 2017

The people in Switzerland were on the move in the High Alps and running alpine pastures 7,000 years ago and therefore much earlier than previously assumed. A study by the University of Bern that combines archaeological knowledge with findings from palaeoecology comes to this conclusion. Prehistoric finds from the Schnidejoch Pass played a crucial part in this.

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Drilling platform

OCCR study rehabilitates climate models

7 February 2017

With new methods of reconstruction, climate researchers of the Oeschger Centre have been able to demonstrate that some 9,000 to 5,000 years ago, the Mediterranean climate was considerably warmer than previous studies had suggested. Among other things, previous concerns regarding the reliability of climate models could thus be dispelled.
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Deadly Wartime Weather

12 December 2016

One of the worst meteorological disasters in history took place in the southeastern Alps during the infamous winter of 1916 /17. Avalanches following a massive snowfall event killed thousands of soldiers as well as civilians. Novel insight into the event arises from an interdisciplinary study conducted at the Oeschger Centre. It provides detailed reconstruction based on weather forecast models and shows the potential of combining numerical techniques with historical documents.

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Exhibition poster of the Our Water show

Our Water: Six Models for the Future

1 November 2016

The Swiss Alpine Museum (alps) has teamed up with the Oeschger Centre as a scientific partner for an exhibition. The show is called “Our Water: Six Models for the Future“. OCCR researchers have provided input and guidance for the concept of this challenging exhibition which promises to take a look into the future while making the link between research and fiction. Starting from the current scientific standpoint, four contemporary authors have come up with six models for our future existence with water.

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Group of students on an excursion at the Jungfraujoch

Studying and networking at the foot of Mount Eiger

20 September 2016

For 15 years now, the OCCR summer school has been attracting both young researchers and experienced scientists to Grindelwald. In a relaxed atmosphere far from the ivory towers of academia, young scientists from around the world can network with their peers and engage with their role models.

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David Frank

“I am probably considered an individual success story”

31 August 2016

American born tree-ring specialist David Frank came to Switzerland to do a PhD. He stayed for almost 15 years and ended up as the Principal Investigator of the OCCR’s Dendroclimatology group at the WSL (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research). Now, as he explains in this interview, he will move on to direct the oldest and largest lab for tree-ring research in the world, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson. This is a big achievement not only for David Frank, but for the Oeschger Centre as well.

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Book cover

Standard work on climate and society

22 June 2016

Heinz Wanner the founding president of the OCCR and retired professor of climatology has published a new book. It is entitled „Klima und Mensch – eine 12'000 jährige Geschichte“ (Climate and man –12'000 years of history) and follows the relationship between climate and the great social upheavals in the past.

Brochure cover

New Tambora brochure launched

30 May 2016

Members of the Oeschger Centre, in a common effort, have published an new brochure on the 1815 Tambora eruption an its consequences for climate an society.

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Display of hail application

Hail researchers rely on smartphone apps and damaged cars

24 April 2016

Although hail causes extensive damage, there hasn't been a comprehensive monitoring network -- until now. Researchers at the Oeschger Centre's Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks are using data on damaged vehicles plus hail reports from the population to improve hail warnings.

Russian research ship Akademik Treshnikov

Oeschger researchers heading for major Antarctic expedition

24 April 2016

The Oeschger Centre is part of the newly established Swiss Polar Institute, and several of its researchers will take part in the SPI’s first major project: the first scientific expedition set to completely circumnavigate Antarctica.

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Master students conducting a video interview

Take the floor - communicating climate science 

21 March 2016

A group of Master students of the OCCR’s Graduate School of Climate Sciences has realized a short documentary called Take the floor that is based on interviews conducted at COP 21. 

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Ice in the Southern Ocean

More greenhouse gases from the sea

12 February 2016

The ocean surrounding Antarctica, which oceanographers often refer to as the Southern Ocean, plays an important role in regulating the Earth’s climate evolution. It absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere on one hand, but releases natural carbon as well. How will this buffer work in the future? Will the Southern Ocean continue to help reduce greenhouse gases, or will it increasingly serve as a source of them? At the Oeschger Centre, several climate research teams are searching for answers.
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Image of a computer simulation

Timely action needed to meet climate targets

20 January 2016

The Paris Agreement of the UN climate change conference is deemed a historic step for climate protection, but its success depends on rapid implementations. The consequences of delaying global CO2 emission reductions for the climate and the world oceans are assessed in a new study by climate physicists from the University of Bern.

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News Archive (before 2016)