June 2021

General News 





General News

OCCR Self-Evaluation Report

On April 8, a retreat on the OCCR Self-Evaluation Report (2018‐2021) took place. A total of about 30 people (members of the OCCR Scientific Committee, OCCR research group leaders, representation from the stands, and the Management Centre) participated in the online event. During this event, the past four years were reflected using a SWOT analysis. Besides, content-related strategical and structural goals were outlined with an action plan for the coming four years. During the workshop, especially the discussions in the disciplinary breakout groups proved helpful. At the moment, the results of the retreat are being summarized for the self-evaluation report, which is due at the end of August 2021.

OCCR featured in Annual Report of the University

The work of the OCCR is prominently featured in the digital Annual Report 2020 of the University of Bern. For example, a video on sustainability research informs about the study by Aurea Chiaia-Hernandez (Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group) on the pollution of sediments in Lake Moossee with pesticides. This sustainability video mentions as well the study on increasing nitrous oxide emissions due to global fertiliser use, in which Fortunat Joos (Earth System Modelling – Biogeochemical Cycles group) was involved. Two detailed articles deal with Christoph Nehrbass-Ahle's (formerly Earth System Modelling – Climate Dynamics group) publication on the rise in CO2 concentrations in earlier warm periods and the flood damage simulator developed by the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks.

Annual Report of the University

New Funding for Microwave Remote Sensing

The OCCR group Atmospheric Processes and Radiometry has received funding from SNSF to study middle atmosphere dynamics in the Arctic and to develop a new radiometer TEMPERA-C for continuous temperature observations from 20-65 km altitude to investigate atmospheric dynamics. This project includes two new PhD students who will be affiliated to the OCCR. The development of the instrument is also supported by the Swiss Polar Institute. The group received funding as well from GCOS to secure the long-term atmospheric measurements of ozone and water vapor in Bern. Furthermore, the Atmospheric Processes and Radiometry group joined the EU network for Aerosols, Clouds, and Trace gases Research Infrastructure (ACTRIS). Finally, the group received a four-year funding from ACTRIS-CH to collaborate with MeteoSwiss and PSI in cloud remote sensing and to install a new millimeter-wave cloud radar. 

OCCR hosts Conference on Environmental History

The European Society of Environmental History (ESEH) has selected the University of Bern (Institute of History, Section of for Economic, Social and Environmental History and the OCCR) to hold its Biennial Conference in 2023. This event will see up to 700 participants on site, depending on the general situation, and will be the largest conference on environmental history in Europe and one of the two largest in the world. It will be entitled „Mountains and Plains: Past, present and future environmental and climatic entanglements” and will take place on 22-26 August 2023. OCCR members Christian Rohr, Chantal Camenisch, Heli Huhtamaa and Melanie Salvisberg (all Environmental History and Historical Climatology group) as well as Stefan Brönnimann (Climatology group) are part of the local organizing committee.

Media releases on OCCR publications

The work of OCCR researchers has been the subject of an unusually large number of media releases from the University of Bern in recent weeks. Ana Vicedo-Cabrera's (OCCR group Climate change and health) publication on the contribution of human-induced climate change to heat-related deaths attracted great interest from the international media. She received interview requests from the The New York Times, Le Monde, El Pais and The Guardian, among others. There were also media releases on the reconstruction of ocean temperatures over the last 700,000 years (Hubertus Fischer Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group), on the Uncertainty of future Southern Ocean CO2 uptake cut in half (Jens Terhaar Ocean Modelling group) on the approval of transparent climate policy (Lukas Fesenfeld Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group) and on plastic waste in near-shore ocean (Victor Onink Earth System Modelling – Biogeochemical Cycles group). All media releases related to the OCCR.

Writing for Publication in Climate Sciences

The Graduate School of Climate Sciences is pleased to offer another high-level course in scientific writing in climate sciences. It will be addressed to all PhD students and OCCR PostDocs who want to substantially improve their writing skills. Simon Milligan, our trusted lecturer, will run the course in workshops of 7 times 3 lessons on Thursday afternoons, distributed from late September to early December and with assignments between workshop. Registration will be open from around mid-August. Find out about previous courses from advanced colleagues, and save the dates.

High-resolution assessment of the urban heat island

Urban Climate Bern

Climate change is considerably affecting cities in Switzerland. This is why "Urban Climate Bern" is one of the projects that the communications department of the University of Bern considered particularly suitable for demonstrating the social relevance of research. The project is accompanied by a series of articles and video contributions on all communication channels of the university.

The project examines the consequences of heat waves on the city of Bern and in particular explores the questions of how great the heat island effect actually is and how strongly it is felt at specific locations. The first episode of the series introduces the project under the title "Heat stress in the Aare city" and reports on the start of this year's measurement campaign for which Moritz Burger (OCCR Climatology group) is responsible.

Newsletter on Prehistory Archeology

The OCCR’s Prehistory Archeology group has launched a newsletter. In the future, it will inform two or three times a year about the group’s latest activities in research, as well as on teaching and outreach, about final theses and events, and changes in the team. To subscribe to the IAW/PA-newsletter, please contact amelie.alterauge@iaw.unibe.ch. 

Newsletter on Prehistory Archeology


Mobiliar Lab Lecture on Climate and Society

This year's Mobiliar Lab Lecture on 10 June 2021 was held by emeritus professors Heinz Wanner and Christian Pfister on the subject of Climate and Society in Europe - the Last 1000 Years. A recording of the lecture (mp4) is available here.

PAGES 2k Network seminar series

Raphael Neukom (formerly Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group) and Michael Sigl (Past volcanism and climate impact group) have given and will give online presentations as part of the PAGES 2k Network seminar series. 16 June: Michael Sigl "Securing timelines of volcanism and climate over the past 4000 years”. See details.

Bern Energy Economic Workshop

The first Bern Energy Economic Workshop will take place on 25 and 26 August 2021. It is co-organized by the OCCR (Climate Economics: Energy, Technological Change and International Cooperation group). Leading national and international scholars will present and discuss recent developments in the field of energy economics. The conference will cover a broad range of aspects such as efficient decarbonisation policies in the transport, building or industry sector, environmental protection, energy market regulation for smart energy systems or efficient market designs for high shares of renewables. The focus is on both theoretical and empirical research. For further details contact doina.radulescu@kpm.unibe.ch

Climate Career Evening

The fourth Climate Career Evening took place in April, this time in purely virtual form. Up to 80 people listened to Climate Alumni from all over the world talk about their careers in industry, administration and academia. Among other things, they emphasized the importance of soft skills such as language and communication, statistics or programming, and highlighted that interdisciplinary coursework beyond a solid specialization looks very good in a CV - for example if an economist also knows about the carbon cycle.

Climate Career Evening


Mathias Erb: start-up for green cities

Mathias Erb (OCCR group Biotic interactions) is co-founder of the start-up Boum, which wants to contribute to the green cities of the future by helping people to successfully grow their own plants. The company combines ecology and technology to create new, surprising products, thus making this important step possible. Boum won third place in the start-up competition at the University of Bern. "Balcony greening can play an important role in improving biodiversity and the climate in the city", said Mathias Erb at the award ceremony.

start-up Boum

Marlene Kammerer receives Initiator Grant

Marlene Kammerer (Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group) has received an Initiator Grant from the University of Bern for the preparation of a comprehensive project proposal. The funding includes a research assistantship of 40 % for six months plus travel expenses. Marlene Kammerer's main project is a project in which she, together with the 17-member team from academia and practice, investigates why nation states make promises in international climate protection that are then often not kept. The project is thus about harmonizing policies on both national and international levels. To this end, the team is developing an index to measure the extent of this vertical harmonization. In addition to quantitatively measuring the gap between the "deeds and words" of nation states, the project also aims to understand why this gap exists, or under what conditions it becomes larger or smaller.

Leonie Bernet awarded for her dissertation

Leonie Bernet (Atmospheric Processes and Radiometry group) has received the Faculty Award for the best dissertation in the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of Bern for her thesis “Detecting trends of stratospheric ozone and tropospheric water vapour at mid-latitudes using measurements from multiple techniques”. Read the laudation.

New visiting scientist: Ariane Burke

New visiting scientist: Ariane Burke

Ariane Burke is a new visiting scientist at the OCCR. She is hosted by the Earth System Modelling - Atmospheric Dynamics group for a sabbatical year as of June 2021. Ariane Burke is a full professor at the Université de Montreal (Laboratoire d'Ecomorphologie et de Paleoanthropologie), Canada. While in Bern, she will work with colleagues at the OCCR designing new research focussed on assessing the impact of climate variability and ecological risk on prehistoric human populations living in Europe during the last glacial period.

She will also continue working with the Hominin Dispersals Research Group (HDRG) which involves creating models of habitat suitability with the goal of comparing how Neanderthals and modern humans reacted to environmental transformations at the end of marine isotope stage 3 (MIS 3). 

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

Marco Hostettler is a new PhD with the Prehistory Archeology group. He studied Medieval Archaeology and Prehistoric Archaeology in Zurich and Bern and completed his studies at the University of Bern with a Master's thesis on the pottery of the Late Neolithic settlement of Burgäschisee-Nord (Canton of Solothurn). Since 2019 he is a PhD student at the Institute of Archaeological Sciences, where he is working on the Bronze Age landscape of the Southern Balkans in the framework of the ERC Synergy project EXPLO.

Witali Krochin is a new PhD student with the Atmospheric Processes and Radiometry group. He did his Master in Theoretical Physics at the University of Bern with a thesis on “Boundary Terms for the Einstein-Hilbert Action”. For his PhD he will study the dynamics of the middle atmospheric with a novel temperature sounding microwave radiometer.

Geunwoo Lee is a new PhD student with the Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group. He obtained a Master in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea, with a thesis entitled “Secondary organic aerosol and ozone formation potential from anthropogenic and biogenic volatile organic compounds in Ulsan, South Korea, in summer”. 
His PhD thesis is on “Geochemical characterization of single dust particles in Antarctic ice cores”.

Anne Morée is a new PostDoc with the Ocean Modelling group. She is part of the H2020-COMFORT project and will investigate patterns, drivers and trends in ocean biogeochemical extreme events and compound events by combining observational-based data with output of the COMFORT Earth system models.

Stephan Räss is a new PhD student with the Environmental Isotopes and Gases group. He did a Master in Physics at the University of Bern. The title of his thesis was Drone-based Aerosol and CO2 Measurements.

Georg von Arx is a new Senior Researcher with the Paleoecology group. His research interests are in intra- and inter-annual growth of trees; shrubs and non-woody plants; anatomical properties; water and carbon relations; dendroecology; dendroclimatology; forest ecology and plant ecology.

A warm welcome to all of you!

Recent journal publications by OCCR members

See all the publications by OCCR members.