Oeschger News (August 2014)

Sinergia project: Climate change extremes and adaptation strategies

As many as five OCCR groups were involved in the successful proposal for a common SNSF funded Sinergia project called Climate Change Extremes and Adaptation Strategies considering Uncertainty and Federalism (CCAdapt). The project under the direction of the Environmental and Climate Economics group (PI Gunter Stephan) aims for developing tools and methods that facilitate a more detailed characterization of climate change adaptation from an economic and policy analysis perspective. These tools and methods are then applied to the specific case of adaptation to a changed probability and magnitude of flood events in Switzerland. This requires an interdisciplinary approach, which integrates environmental economics, hydrology, meteorology, and political sciences. Thus the OCCR groups for Hydrology (PI Rolf Weingartner), Environmental Policy Analysis (PI Karin Ingold) and the Mobiliar Group for Climate Change Impact Research (Olivia Romppainen) will contribute their expertise as well as research groups at the University of Basel and at the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne (EPFL). CCAdapt will develop a theoretical basis of adaptation which is then used in Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models of Switzerland for evaluating feasible adaptation strategies. Both theory development and application, will be based on a prediction of climate impacts on hydrological extremes in Switzerland and take into account political barriers to adaptation due to strategic interaction between different levels of Switzerland’s federalist structure.

Sinergia project: Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores

A SNSF funded Sinergia project that involves several OCCR researchers will start in January 2015. The overall objective is to significantly advance the understanding of complex systemic linkages between climate, land use, fire and vegetation. Regional paleo fire histories will be established from multi-proxy high-alpine ice core records, the atmospheric footprint of the ice cores will be determined by global modeling of biomass burning relevant tracers, and quantitative transfer functions will be developed through identification of single fire events and their corresponding burned area from satellite data. OCCR teams involved are the Analytical Chemistry group (PI Margit Schwikowski, PSI, lead institution), the Terrestrial Paleoecology group (PI Willy Tinner, UniBe). Their partners are the Climatoloy group (Remote Sensing Research, Stefan Wunderle, UniBe) and the Global Aerosol Modeling Group (PI Ulrike Lohmann, IAC/ETHZ).

OCCR Plenary Meeting on 11 September 2014

The next OCCR Plenary Meeting will take place on Thursday, 11 September 2014, 14.00 – 17.00 (followed by an Apéro). The location is the University’s Main Building, Hochschulstr. 4, Lecture hall HS 201 (2nd floor). Have a look at the programme and don’t forget to register no later than 29 August 2014.

New premises for the OCCR Management Centre

The Oeschger Centre’s Management Centre has moved to a new location. Our offices are now located at Falkenplatz 16, 3012 Bern – just a couple of steps away form the University’s main building, UniS, or the Institute of Geography.

OCCR members on list of highly cited researchers

Hubertus Fischer (Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group), Thomas Stocker and Jakob Schwander (both Earth System Modeling – Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group) figure on a new list of highly cited researchers by the news and information company Thomson Reuters. The presentation of this list reads: “Highly Cited Researchers 2014 represents some of world’s leading scientific minds. Over three thousand researchers earned the distinction by writing the greatest numbers of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as Highly Cited Papers—ranking among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact.” In total, the University of Bern is represented with four on Highly Cited Researchers, three of them are members of the OCCR.

Multimedia trail guide to climate change

Learn about climate change on your smartphone – the Jungfrau climate guide 2.0 makes it possible. The app from the Oeschger Centre offers visitors to the Jungfrau region background information about the local impact of global warming.

Read more… 

Documentary on researching past climates

Taking Earth’s Temperature: Delving into Climate’s Past, is an hour-long documentary produced by filmmakers at Northern Arizona University’s IDEA Lab with involvement from many PAGES-affiliated scientists including several OCCR members. Using footage from both the field and labs in the USA and Europe as well as numerous interviews and graphics, it showcases scientific discoveries in climate change research and demonstrates the value and relevance of researching past climates. The work of the PAGES 2k network features prominently. The DVD of the film is now available for purchase at:

The OCCR is part of the Science Night

On 6 September 2014 the University of Bern is organizing its second Science Night. More than 7’000 people attended the first edition in 2011. Obviously, the OCCR will be part of this major outreach event. The Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA) as well as the groups for Climatology, Paleoceanography and marine biogeochemistry, and Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores are planning a host of activities. A special show will give an insight into 50 years of polar ice core drilling at the University of Bern. Come and visit the Climate exhibition in the underground of the ExWi building.

HydroGem3 – a new Swiss-Austrian project

HydroGem3 is the name of a new common project between the Institute of Geography, Innsbruck, Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, Innsbruck and Hydrology group of the OCCR. The project is financed by the Austrian Academy of Sciences ÖAW Earth System Sciences (ESS), Vienna. Hydrogem3 is among the few projects that were selected in the 2013 Call out of approximately 140 proposals.

Closer look at hailstorms

The first European hail workshop, organized by the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks, was unexpectedly popular. More than 100 people representing academia, the insurance industry, and national weather services attended. From 25 to 27 June in Bern, they exchanged ideas and discussed unresolved questions about the formation and prediction of hailstorms. Founded in 2013, the Mobiliar Lab is a joint research institution of the Oeschger Centre and the Mobiliar insurance company.

Read more… 

Deglacial deep ocean circulation and biogeochemical cycling

The OCCR group for Paleoceanography and marine biogeochemistry co-organizes a workshop on Deglacial Deep Ocean Circulation and Biogeochemical Cycling from 30 September to 3 October 2014. The deep ocean circulation affects climate and cycles of biogeochemical elements such as carbon and nutrients. This workshop initiates two projects aimed at improving our understanding of past deep ocean circulation changes and its effects on biogeochemical tracer distributions: Investigating Past Ocean Dynamics (iPODS), which focuses on radiocarbon and oxygen isotopes (δ18O), and Ocean Circulation and Carbon Cycling (OC3), which focuses on stable carbon isotopes (δ13C).

Guest researcher at the Terrestrial Paleoecology group

Walter Finsinger (CNRS Montpellier, F) will stay as a guest researcher with the Terrestrial Paleoecology group for two months. He was granted financial support for his stay by the Swiss National Science Foundation to pursue a project entitled The role of changes in fire-regime, land use, and climate for species with small and isolated tree populations in Mediterranean mountains.

Climate change impact and adaptation in agricultural systems


Jürg Fuhrer from the Climate/Air Pollution group together with Peter Gregory from the University of Reading has edited a new multi-authored book entitled Climate Change Impact and Adaptation in Agricultural Systems. The focus is on future global climate change and its implications for agricultural systems which are the main sources of agricultural goods and services provided to society. These systems are either based on crop or livestock production, or on combinations of the two, with characteristics that differ between regions and between levels of management intensity. In turn, they also differ in their sensitivity to projected future changes in climate, and improvements to increase climate-resilience need to be tailored to the specific needs of each system. The book brings together a series of chapters that provide scientific insights to possible implications of projected climate changes for different important types of crop and livestock systems, and a discussion of options for adaptive and mitigative management.

Research above the clouds

High school students paid a visit to the high-altitude Sphinx laboratory. The excursion to Jungfraujoch was part of Nano-camp 2014, a research camp for teenagers organized jointly by the 3sat television network and the Oeschger Centre. The programme about the nano-camp 2014 will be aired at 6:30 p.m. on 5 September 2014 on the 3sat television network.

Read more…

Young Researcher Meeting on science and communication


The OCCR’s annual Young Researchers Meeting took place on 19 and 20 June 2014 in Aeschi in the Bernese Oberland. 40 PhD students and Postdocs followed an intense programme around the topic of Science and Communication. One of the highlights of the event was a keynote lecture by Thomas Stocker on Lessons learned from Climategate on the first day. In a media training on the second day, three different workshops made participants understand how journalists and the news desk of newspapers and electronic media work. The workshops were conducted by renowned journalists working for the BBC, Swissinfo.ch and NZZ am Sonntag.

Mountain Observatories workshop in Reno

The Mountain Research Initiative MRI (PI: Rolf Weingartner from the OCCRs Hydrology group) has organized an international workshop called Mountain Observatories from 16 – 19 July 2014 in Reno, Nevada (US). It was attended by approximately 200 participants and the main outcomes are summarized at http://www.mountainobservatories.net/.

International moor excursion – from the mountains to the sea

The traditional international Moor Excursion of the University of Bern will take place from 7 – 14 September 2014 in Lower Saxony, Germany. The conveners are the Institute of Plant Sciences and the OCCR. The event runs under the title From the mountains to the sea and includes topics such as Bog development in the Harz National Park, Cultural landscape of heaths and woodlands, and The North Sea’s submerged landscapes.

Apéro series for young OCCR scientists at the Botanical Garden

The next edition of the so-called OCCR Apéro series is hosted by the Terrestrial Paleoecology group and will place on 10 October 2014 at the Botanical Garden. An invitation flyer addressed to all young OCCR members will follow soon. Save the date!

Hail research on Youtube

The Mobilar Lab for Natural Risks has produced an interesting video for the general public. The movie lasts 5 minutes and gives a lively insight into the state of the art of hail research (in Swiss German).

Synthesis days of NFP 61 Sustainable water management

On 4 and 5 November 2014 the so called Synthesis days of the NFP 61 Sustainable water management will take place in Bern and Solothurn. The OCCR’s Hydrology group was strongly involved in the NFP 61 project MontaAqua.

Christoph Schwörer doubly awarded for his dissertation

Christoph Schwörer from the Terrestrial Paleoecology group has won the Faculty Prize “Biology” of the University of Bern for his dissertation Drivers of Holocene Vegetation Dynamics in the Northwestern Swiss Alps. He was also awarded with the ProMontes Preis 2014 by the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research. His work on the Lake Iffigen was founded by the Bretscher-Fonds.

Open access to water knowledge in Switzerland

Since 27 June 2014 all digital products of the Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland HADES are accessible online and free of charge. A total of 67 tables can be downloaded in the PDF format. An optional registration – as well free of charge – offers additional services like information about upcoming events, new publications or products. The OCCRs Hydrology group has been coordinating this huge research effort over many years on behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). See press release (in German).

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:


Callum Berridge is a new PostDoc with the Climate/Air Pollution group. He got a Master in Environmental Geosciences at the University of Bristol and developed novel approaches for parameterizing carbon models during his PhD at the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. He is now engaged in two SNF-funded projects on modeling the soil’s carbon cycle. His research interests are in interactions of climate, land management, and ecosystem services.


Sonja Keel has joint the scientific staff of the Climate/Air Pollution group. She has previously worked as a PostDoc in the Earth System Modeling – Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles group. Sonja’s expertise is in ecosystem modeling. She is now working on a model-based inventory system for soil carbon sinks and sources in Switzerland.


César Morales del Molino from the Universidad Autònoma de Madrid is a new PostDoc at the Terrestrial Paleoecology group. His research is financed by Swiss Government Excellence Postdoctoral Scholarships for foreign researchers ESKAS for a year.


Matthias Vonwiller is a new PhD student in the Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA). He will study the sources of carbonaceous aerosols using radiocarbon with emphasis on the identification of organic molecules and the development of compound-specific radiocarbon analyses.

A warm welcome to all of you!

Researchers who have recently left the OCCR:

Anil Bozbiyik who was a PhD student at the Earth System Modeling – Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles group. He has left without completing his thesis he is currently travelling and plans to take up his PhD project at a later stage.

Flavio Lehner who was a PostDoc at the Earth System Modeling – Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group moves on for a next PostDoc at NCAR, Boulder, Colorado (USA).

Christoph Schwörer who was a PhD student at the Terrestrial Paleoecology University of Oregon in Eugene (USA) group for SNSF Early Mobility PostDoc position. He will be working at Paleoecology and Biogeography Lab on Past and Future timberline dynamics on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington.

Marco Steinacher who was a PostDoc at the Earth System Modeling – Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles group. He is looking for a new position.

All the best to you!