June 2019

 General News 





General News

Contract between OCCR and Mobiliar extended

Swiss Mobiliar insurance company has just confirmed its close ties with the OCCR. The contract between the two partners has been extended for another four-years period ending in 2024. This grants the OCCR funding of CHF 4.8 Mio. The commitment of the insurance company to climate research goes back to 2011, when the Mobiliar Group for Climate Impact Research was created. In 2013, it was followed by the establishment of the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks. This joint research initiative investigates the processes involved in the formation of hail, storm, floods and mass movements. The research area is limited to Switzerland. The Mobiliar Lab is located at the interface between science and practice and aims for results that have high relevance for the general public.

OCCR receives members of National Research Council

45 members of The National Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation paid a visit to the OCCR on 4 June 2019. The division Biology and Medicine of this body regularly meets at a special location to gain insight into the work of leading Swiss research institutions. During the visit, the group was specifically briefed on interdisciplinary research at the OCCR. The Council members met with OCCR president Thomas Stocker (Earth System Modelling – Climate Dynamics group), Claus Beisbart (Philosophy of Climate Science and Climate Ethics group) and Hubertus Fischer (Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group). The National Research Council evaluates several thousand applications each year and makes funding decisions. It is composed of about 100 distinguished researchers, most of whom work at Swiss higher education institutions.

OCCR members are part of Horizon 2020 projects

Several OCCR members working at Climate and Environmental Physics (CEP) are partners in four Horizon 2020 projects of the European Commission that will start in 2019. The project BEOIC, BeyondEPICA: Oldest Ice Core, has the goal to drill a 1.5-million year old ice core in Antarctica. Switzerland, through scientists of CEP, is one of the leading partners in this € 11M project.
EU Project TiPES is studying tipping points in the Earth System by combining new mathematical theories with the paleoclimatic records. Members of CEP will carry out simulations with EMICs to understand new paleoceanographic tracers.
EU Project CCICC will reduce uncertainty in our quantitative understanding of carbon-climate interactions and feedbacks. Scientists of CEP will quantify key processes regulating the coupled carbon-climate system and use observational constraints to provide long term projections of the climate in response to anthropogenic emissions.
EU Project COMFORT will determine tipping points in physical and biogeochemical tipping systems and the consequences of passing tipping points for the marine carbon, oxygen and nutrient cycles as well as for marine ecosystems. Members of CEP will assess marine extreme events and quantify maximum carbon emissions for a safe operating space.

First season of field work for EXPLO project


As reported earlier,  an interdisciplinary team in the fields of archeology and biology including OCCR groups was awarded an ERC Synergy Grants grant for a five-year project named EXPLO (Exploring the dynamics and causes of prehistoric land use change in the cradle of European farming). Now, this international team, created at the initiative of OCCR members Albert Hafner

(Prehistory Archeology group) and Willy Tinner (Paleoecolgy group), faces its first field season. A total of 40 researchers from different fields and institutions has started work on-site in Northern Macedonia on the shores of Lake Ohrid, and will stay until 2 August. An advance party had moved equipment such as diving gear, a mobile dendro lab and surveying equipment by road and ferry to the city of Ohrid where the researchers are based.

Mobiliar Lab Newsletter


The Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks has just published the latest issue of its biannual newsletter (in German). Topics featured include: new insight into the calculation of the monetary value of buildings at risk, citizen science in the field of hail research and threshold values for heavy precipitation to cause damage on housing and infrastructure.

OCCR prominently featured in University’s annual report

Stoian Isabela Manuscript

A Nature paper by Thomas Frölicher (Ocean Modelling group) is just one of the achievements of OCCR members prominently featured in the University of Bern’s annual report 2019. The study shows how marine heatwaves can irreversibly damage ecosystems and, therefore, also present a threat to fishing. The number of marine heatwaves has increased dramatically in past decades, and this trend will further intensify as a result of climate change.

Urban heat load project makes the news

Urban heat load project makes the news

The OCCR’s Climatology group runs a project on the urban heat load of Bern. In May 2018, an extensive measurement network of 85 low-cost temperature loggers was installed over different urban structures, vegetation types as well as topographical and infrastructural settings.

The goal of this project is to assess the summertime urban heat island effect of the city of Bern at a very fine scale in order to create a data-base for the validation of microscale urban climate models and for future urban planning strategies. The project has caused substantial media interest already last summer. This season, it even made it to prime time national TV and was featured in the news show Schweiz aktuell. Have a look at the entire press coverage on the OCCR over the past months.

Be part of the SNSF Scientific Image Competition!

This picture by Isabela Stoian, a PhD student at the University of Fribourg was the winner of the first prize in the 2019 Swiss National Science Foundation’s Scientific Image Competition in the category "Women and men of science". Maybe one of the award-winning pictures in 2020 could be yours! The competition is held annually.

An international jury meets at the beginning of the year and award a CHF 1'000 prize in each category for the winning entry, as well as CHF 250 for each distinction. The description of the competition reads: “This initiative has multiple aims: to show the growing role of images in scientific research, to reveal how scientific work is conducted and give a face to the researchers conducting it. The competition also aims to encourage the media to use more images in their science coverage and make them accessible to the public through exhibitions. We encourage researchers to pick up their camera and document the – often unusual – environment in which they work, and to give their colleagues a face.”


OCCR Plenary Meeting on 6 September 2019

The next OCCR Plenary Meeting will take place on Friday, 6 September 2019 (14 – 17 h), at the Institute of Geography, Hallerstrasse 12, 3012 Bern, lecture hall 001. Detailed information on the program will follow.

Young Researchers Meeting 2019 on excellence in science

Young Researchers Meeting 2019

This year’s Young Researchers Meeting for PhDs and PostDocs evolved around the general topic of “The replicability crisis in science”. Issues addressed were: the context of the crisis and the resulting standards and requirements for scientific work, as well as the tendency of evaluation committees to only support “excellent” projects.

Speakers discussing the implications of these issues for early career researchers included Matthias Egger, the head of the Swiss National Science Foundation, OCCR Director Martin Grosjean and Mathias Binswanger from the Univ. of Applied Sc. of Northwestern Switzerland. In a panel discussion, Kathrin Altwegg from the Space and Habitability Center of the University of Bern, Hubertus Fischer and Willy Tinner both from the Oeschger Centre, shared their views on excellence in science. Besides lectures and panel discussion, participants participated in hands-on workshops on ICT tools for reproducible code and data management, and on concepts for clear and persuasive argumentation in scientific texts.

1’700 archaeologists meet in Bern

The European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) will hold its 25th annual meeting from 4 – 7 September 2019 in Bern. OCCR members Albert Hafner and Caroline Heitz (Prehistory Archeology group) are part of the scientific committee of this major event with 1’600 – 1’700 participants. The general theme of the conference is “beyond paradigms”. On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, the EAA seeks to reflect “on what the real contribution from Archaeology and Archaeological Heritage has been and can be, for a future in which everything that seemed solid in 1994 has melted away under the pressing threats that challenge an inclusive and progressive idea of Europe”, as the welcome note reads.

100 years of Palaeoecology at the University of Bern

In 2020, it will be exactly a hundred years since paleoecological research was initiated at the University of Bern. A symposium will be organized on 8 – 9 June 2020 to celebrate this century of Paleoecology made in Bern. To our knowledge the Paleoecology lab in Bern is the only one worldwide that has been operational in an uninterrupted way for such a long time. The overall theme of the event is “State of the art of the scientific field and outlook to future directions and developments of Paleoecology”. The conference will include sessions dedicated to ”Scales and Proxies”; “Quantification, Modelling and Theory of Paleoecology”; “Paleoecology’s Human and Societal Dimensions” and “Implications of Paleoecology for Biodiversity and Conservation". Save the date!

Summer School 2020 on extreme events

The International Swiss Climate Summer School 2020 will take place in Grindelwald from 23 to 28 August 2020 and focus on the theme “Extreme events”. In its 2020 edition the Swiss Summer School, which was jointly created in 2002 by the OCCR and the C2SM of the ETH Zurich, will cover a broad field of topics related to extreme events – from atmospheric processes to life support systems and socio-economic impacts. Details on program and registration will follow by the end of summer.

2019 Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks workshop in Bern

Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks (COMPON) is an international research project that explores and compares climate policy networks and discourse networks in more than 20 countries The aim of the project is to better understand why countries differ in their responses to climate change. The project started in 2007, and has generated a large amount of high-quality research on climate policy networks. The 2019 COMPON workshop takes place in Bern on 22 – 25 October 2019. It is hosted by the OCCR, and co-organized Marlene Kammerer (Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group). Scholars outside the COMPON project are warmly invited to participate, present their own research on climate policy networks, and become part
of the growing network of COMPON researchers. Send your abstract (max. 300 words) to marlene.kammerer@ipw.unibe.ch by 15 July.

International conference on contaminated sediments ContaSed

The ContaSed 2020 conference on contaminated sediments will take place in Bern on 15 – 18 June 2020. Concerns on the occurrence and fate of chemical contaminants in the environment are evermore incrasing. Recent sediments have become environmental compartments of high importance, since they can act as major sinks for pollutants in aquatic ecosystems. One key aspect is reflected by historic records of many legacy compounds preserved in dated sediment cores. Save the date!

Welcome Meeting for new OCCR members

This year’s welcome meeting for new OCCR members takes place at the OCCR Management Centre, Hochschulstrasse 4, 3rd floor WESTon Tuesday, 22 October 2019, 17:00 – 18:00. All new members will receive a personal invitation.


New research group leader for Climate Change and Health

The OCCR and the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) of the University of Bern have jointly established a new interdisciplinary junior research group entitled “Climate Change and Health (C2H): Our Planet - Our Health”. Now, the leader of this research group has been appointed in the person of Ana M. Vicedo Cabrera. She is an environmental epidemiologist who, up to now, has worked as an Assistant Professor in Environmental Epidemiology and Statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Before that, she did her PhD studies in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Valencia (Spain) on a project about the association between ambient temperature and preterm birth.
The objectives of the Climate Change and Health group are:

  • Assessing and projecting health effects of climate change in Switzerland, Europe and globally
  • Understanding pathways and biological mechanisms
  • Carrying out targeted regional model simulations using the new climate change scenarios CH2018
  • Building the nucleus of a possible Centre of Excellence "Climate and Health" at the University of Bern

Doina Maria Radulescu joins Environmental and Climate Economics group

Doina Maria Radulescu

Doina Maria Radulescu is a new member of the Environmental and Climate Economics group and thus part of the OCCR. She currently works as an assistant professor (non-tenure track) at the Center of Competence for Public Management of the University of Bern. Her research interests are in Energy and Economics. Doina Maria Radulescu is originally from Bucharest, Romania and did her PhD in the Joint Doctoral Program of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research and Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich (Germany). Her last PostDoc position was at the Department Management, Technology, and Economics at ETH Zurich.

New equality manager at the OCCR

Ariane Balmer (Prehistory Archeology group) has joined the equality management team of the OCCR. The persons responsible for family-friendly working conditions and gender equality now are: Ariane Balmer, Martin Grosjean and Olivia Romppainen.

ClimateAlumi in the spotlight

Nicole Glaus

Hers is probably the most famous face among the ClimateAlumni of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences. Nicole Glaus can be seen regularly on Swiss screens at prime time, as she is part of the 15-member team of SRF Meteo, which produces weather forecasts for Swiss radio and television. Read the full stories on Alumni Nicole Glaus as well as on Regina Daus who now works as a specialist for simulating wind fields.

Euro-Climhist project hosts visitor from Estonia

The team of the Euro-Climhist project (Environmental and Climate History group) currently hosts a visiting scientist from the cooperation team at the University of Tallinn. Dr. Kaarel Vanamölder is in Bern for a three-months stay, financed by an SNSF Scientific Exchange Grant. Kaarel is here to insert preliminary results from the Tallinn research group – that is, the large climate data set on Estonia compiled by Prof. em. Andres Tarand on the one side, and data from the current historical storms in the Baltic region project on the other side.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

Matthias Bolliger is a new scientific staff member with the Prehistory Archaeology group where he is part of the ERC Synergy EXPLO project. Matthias has been leading the Laboratory for Dendrochronology of the Archeological Service of the Canton of Berne since 2015. His main research interests are in dendroarchaeology, pile-dwelling archaeology and forest management. He will support the EXPLO project in all aspects of Dendroarchaeology.

Carla Grimaldi is a new PhD with the Past Volcanism and Climate Impact group. She did a Master in Geology at Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II with a thesis entitled “Quantitative characterization of zeolites from Surtsey island (Iceland)”. Carla’s research focus is on the investigation and analysis of the tephra records contained in polar ice cores with the aim of identifying their volcanic sources. The title of her PhD thesis is “Unlocking the secrets of past volcanism and its influence on climate using polar ice cores and cryptotephra”.

Ralf Hand is a new Postdoc with the Climatology group. He did his PhD on midlatitude ocean-atmosphere interactions at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel. Afterwards he became a Postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, analyzing North Atlantic decadal variability in different simulations with the MPI Earth System Model. At his current position, he will work in the modeling part of the PALAEO-RA project which generates a global climate data set of the past six centuries and uses this data to obtain a dynamical understanding of large-scale decadal climate variability.

Petr Nalivaika is a new PhD with the Analytical Chemistry Research group. His research project is on “Reconstructing historic and modern anthropogenic FSU heavy metal pollution”. Petr did a Master in Analytical Chemistry at McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada. His thesis was entitled: “Structured Conductive Probes for Mass-Spectrometry”.

Thomas Singer is a new PhD with the Analytical Chemistry Research group. He did his Master in Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich specializing in biogeochemistry and pollutant dynamics with a thesis entitled “Physical and biological controls on leaf gas exchange”. His research focus is on the pre-industrial to industrial change of water insoluble organic carbon (WIO14C), elemental carbon (E14C) and dissolved organic carbon (DO14C) concentrations and biogenic and anthropogenic sources in Europe and Siberia by analysing ice samples with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS).

Sarah Spycher is a new PhD with the Climate Economics: Energy, Technological Change and International Cooperation group. She gained her Master’s degree at the University of Bern with a thesis entitled “The Role of Strategic Delegation in the Formation of International Environmental Agreements”. The focus of Sarah’s research is on International Environmental Policy.

A warm welcome to all of you!

Researchers who have recently left the OCCR:

Raphael Neukom, who was a SNFS Ambizione Fellow in the Paleolimnology group has left for a joint part-time appointment at the Universities of Zurich and Fribourg. Raphi was one of the driving forces of PAGES 2k (Climate of the past 2000 years). Almost on his very last day at the OCCR, we harvested the fruits of his work with two papers accepted in Nature and Nature Geoscience.

Tobias Schneider who was a PhD and Postdoc in the Paleolimnology group has received an Early Postdoc Mobility Grant. He moved to Ray Bradley’s lab in the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts and works on molecular biomarkers in lake sediments from Southern Greenland.

All the best for your future career!

Recent journal publications by OCCR members

See all the publications by OCCR members.