Oeschger News (March 2012)

OCCR to be evaluated in 2012

In parallel to the evaluation of the departments and institutes (QSE), the OCCR is the first centre at University of Bern that will undergo an internal and external evaluation in 2012, i.e. at the end of the first period of the Grant Agreement 2007 – 2011 (Leistungsvereinbarung). The criteria will be finalized these days with the Vice-Rector Research (Prof. C. Leumann) and the PIs of the research groups will be informed accordingly. The report is expected for summer 2012 and an external review panel will meet in autumn 2012. This report will be discussed internally on the occasion of a 2-days workshop with the leaders of the OCCR research groups (some time in August 2012, announcement follows). This discussion will be the starting point to set the corner stones for the new Grant Agreement (expected 2013 – 2017).

Workshop on Research and Survey Design in Environmental Politics

On 1 March 2012 a workshop organized by Karin Ingold from the OCCR's group for Environmental Policy Analysis took place at the University of Bern. The workshop brought together some 30 participants from Switzerland and abroad. It was designed to address practical questions of empirical research and featured three case studies on water management, viticulture, agriculture and climate change in California. They were presented by Mark Lubell, Professor at the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis. He studies collective-action problems in theory, lab and field settings using quantitative and qualitative empirical methods. The workshop led by Karin Ingold and Mark Lubell was so successful with the participants – only half of the people who applied could be considered – that it will be repeated in 2013.

OCCR researchers are part of the new EU project NORS

The Group for Atmospheric Processes at the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) participates in the new EU FP7 project NORS (Demonstration Network Of ground-based Remote Sensing Observations in support of the GMES Atmospheric Service). Within the new project, the IAP delivers and archives vertical ozone profiles measured by the 142 GHz ozone microwave radiometer of the University of Bern. The recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer takes place in the next 50 years. The ozone recovery is expected to induce changes of the atmospheric circulation system and climate. Inter-comparison between ground stations and satellites, trend detection of atmospheric composition, development and operation of the NORS data centre for rapid data delivery are the project tasks. Later the NORS data centre will be used for validation and control of trace gas measurements of ESA's Sentinel satellites.

How to use historical documentary data in modern risk assessment

The OCCR plays an active role in GCOS (Global Climate Observing System) and the dissemination of scientific knowledge. Part of the GCOS activities is Euro-Climhist, an online database developed at the OCCR by Christian Pfister and colleagues. This unique tool allows the interested public to access 50'000 entries on past climate and extreme events since 1500 which were gathered from historical documents. Together with MeteoSwiss, we organize a symposium called The Relevance of Historical Documentary Data for the Debate about Climate and Natural Hazards to publicly launch this database. It will take place on 3 May 2012 at the University of Bern and is directed at practitioners involved in the management of natural risks. The one-day event offers lectures and workshops and will show how data based on historical documents can be used to improve risk assessments in the field of natural hazards.

Updated studies program of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences

In February 2012, the updated studies program of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences came into operation. Mainly the PhD program was slightly modified: In the future, PhD students will have to gain 12 ECTS credits. They can do so by attending a summer school, their institute's seminars, a young researchers meeting, conferences and optionally a lecture – essentially what PhD students do anyway. In addition, the organisational details of the PhD project are put on record in a doctoral agreement (Doktoratsvereinbarung). Another new feature is the option to include PhD students in the Graduate School who are matriculated at other faculties. This means they can now obtain the title "Dr. phil. hist." or "Dr. rer. oec.". PhD students who are already enrolled in the Graduate School are not affected by these changes.

Ambizione Grant for Claire Rambeau

Claire Rambeau from the Terrestrial Paleoecology group has won an Ambizione Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation. Her project is called Arid Southern Levant: a joint environmental and human history for the Holocene, derived from new archives of climate change. It proposes to explore the potential of sedimentary sequences from arid Southern Levant to record past environmental and climate changes and compare them with the evolution of human societies during the Holocene. The study wants to provide a new, detailed record of Holocene environmental change in the arid Southern Levant. Such records are crucial for an in-depth evaluation of potential relationships between climate change and cultural development, through settlement history, the development of agriculture, and the evolution of water management practices.

Funding for Citizen science project

The climatology group of the Institute of Geography will lead the citizen science project Open the Book of Nature focusing on phenology and seasonality observations. The project aims to create a stage for interaction between scientists and citizens in order to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of climate and environmental change. It will produce a website and smartphone applications to submit geolocated and dated observations and photographs and use Social Media tools for interaction and exchange. At present the project has 11 collaborating partner institutions and three communication expert teams. Under the auspices of the SCNAT, the project is lead by Stefan Brönnimann together with Werner Eugster (ETHZ) and Martine Rebetez (UniNE) and is managed by This Rutishauser. Open the Book of Nature runs from 2012–2015. It is mainly supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation through its AGORA science communication program

Contact: This Rutishauser, rutis@giub.unibe.ch or Stefan Brönnimann, stefan.broennimann@giub.unibe.ch for further information or for becoming a science partner of the project.

The Climate-Friendly Farm – a computer game for young farmers

A proposal by the Oeschger Centre's Air Pollution/Climate Research Group was granted funding within the Swiss National Science Foundation's AGORA science communication program. The project is about developing an educational tool to be used in agricultural schools. This tool, in the form of a computer game, is called The Climate-Friendly Farm and allows for the simulation of a simplified flow of elements (nitrogen, carbon) that are relevant for greenhouse gas fluxes and their budgets on farms. The player can discover the consequences of different management options in crop and livestock production for the greenhouse gas balance of his/her farm as well as for the profit of the operation. This experience will enhance students' understanding of the role of agriculture in mitigating climate change, with the ultimate goal of changing personal attitudes and developing best practices. The game is now being developed together with the game design department of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).

The AGORA funding scheme will award innovative and unusual ideas for science communications in 2012 as well. The OCCR is strongly interested in supporting researchers who would like to submit a proposal.

Support for fieldwork campaign in Alaska

Maarten van Hardenbroek form the Aquatic Paleoecology group has received a grant from the University of Bern's Research Foundation for a fieldwork campaign to Alaska in summer 2012. The projects title is: Carbon cycling in Lake Teshekpuk, arctic Alaska: past and present. The fieldwork will be undertaken in collaboration with Matthew Wooller from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

New research group for Atmospheric Processes

The Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) has a new research group for Atmospheric Processes. It comprises of Klemens Hocke, Simone Studer, Federico Cossu, and Ansgar Schanz who investigate the nature of atmospheric processes by means of observations and simulations. They are especially interested in atmospheric waves, stratospheric ozone, and the water cycle.

Korean-Swiss Science Cooperation

The Korean-Swiss Science Cooperation in Switzerland has selected the project Precursors and Effects of Sudden Stratospheric Warmings at Bern and Seoul for funding. The project will be conducted by Niklaus Kämpfer, Klemens Hocke (IAP Bern), and Jung Jin Oh (Sookmyung Women's University Seoul). Start of this joint initiative is in March 2012.

OCCR researchers receive Poster Award of European Meteorological Society

Klemens Hocke, Simone Studer and Niklaus Kämpfer for the OCCR's Atmospheric Radiometry and Processes group have received the Outstanding Poster Award at the European Conference on Applications of Meteorology (Berlin, September 2011). The title of the awarded poster is Diurnal variation of stratospheric ozone above Bern. Ozone trends observed by satellites have to be carefully corrected for sampling biases due to the diurnal ozone cycle.

Philippe Thalmann first Adjunct Researcher at the OCCR

Following a formal decision by the University Board of Directors, the OCCR is entitled to confer the status of an Adjunct Researcher to scientists who closely collaborate with OCCR Research Groups but are external to the OCCR. The OCCR scientific committee has appointed Prof. Dr. Philippe Thalmann as the first Adjunct Researcher. Philippe Thalmann is an economist and works at the Economics and Environmental Management Laboratory of ETH Lausanne. His research interest are: economics of climate change, costs of climate change, acceptance, economic instruments, mitigation and adaptation.

New OCCR laptops for rent

The OCCR has recently bought 18 brand new laptop computers, with Windows 7, standard office software and some scientific software packages preinstalled. The laptops are availabe for rent (free of charge) to all members of the OCCR, e.g. for computer workshops or field campaigns.

Call for PhD project funding

The Dr. Alfred Bretscher Fund offers a fully funded PhD position for 36 months in all fields of climate and climate impact sciences. The PhD is affiliated with one of the OCCR research Groups. Deadline for applications is 15 March 2012.

OCCR-ISSI-CSH Networking Event

Bern hosts three institutions that deal, among other topics with the Earth's atmosphere: the Oeschger Centre OCCR, the International Space Science Institute ISSI and the newly established Centre for Space and Habitability CSH. On11 June 2012, form 15.15 – 16.45 a joint OCCR-ISSI-CSH Networking Event will be organized followed by an Apero. The event aims at introducing the three institutions to each other and thus to explore potential synergies. (A detailed announcement will follow.)

Dominic Fleitmann receives the Chair of Palaeoclimatology in Reading

Dominic Fleitmann from the OCCR's group for Quaternary Climate Geology was elected professor in Palaeoclimatology at the University of Reading in the UK. He will start his new position in September 2012. He will officially be part of the Archaeology Department but nevertheless carry on his research with stalagmites and lake sediments.

New consultant for data services

The OCCR provides a new service for its members. We offer support and advice regarding the use and management of data and have created the position of a consultant for data services. Jörg Franke is currently setting-up an infrastructure to facilitate data access and an information portal on data sets within the OCCR. He is available for all questions regarding the handling of scientific data in your groups.

Layout for OCCR flyers available

Are you planning a conference or a workshop with support of the OCCR? Don't forget that we can offer you a layout template to create an attractive invitation flyer for your event.

Publications and profiles on OCCR website

Don't forget to mention the OCCR affiliation on your journal publications. It is perfectly ok to use a double affiliation including your institute and the OCCR. Remember we do not mention papers without affiliation on the publications list of the OCCR. You find a currently updated list on www.oeschger.unibe.ch. This website also comprises a section with profile stories of OCCR researcher that is currently enlarged.

Spectacular fieldwork on islands lost in the Pacific

The work of Krystyna Saunders, PosDoc at the Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group was recently featured in the University of Bern's unilink magazine. The story gives a good idea of Krystyna's challenging fieldwork on the Macquarie and Campbell Island and provides insight to her research project: analysing lake sediments to gain knowledge of the climate of the past on the southern hemisphere.

Planet earth and the global environment as indicators of social change

Christian Rohr from the OCCR's group for Environmental History and Historical Climatology is among the conveners of the conference Knowledge production about planet earth and the global environment as indicators of social change that will take place form 23–25 January 2013, at University of Bern. Confirmed speakers: Prof. Naomi Oreskes (University of California, San Diego), Ass. Prof. Deborah Coen (Barnard College, New York)?Keynote speaker: Prof. Dr. em. Joachim Radkau (University of Bielefeld). The conference aims to explore the social, cultural and political changes induced by earth scientists and the knowledge and institutions they have created over the last two centuries. Historians of the earth sciences and environmental historians are invited to identify starting points and ways of thinking about the issue of social change through the lens of earth matters. Call for Papers: Please send abstracts (200 words) and a short CV to Christian Rohr christian.rohr@hist.unibe.ch. Deadline for submission is 30 April 2012.

Climate Economics strengthens international contacts

The OCCR's group Environmental and Climate Economics has entered new co-operations. Gunter Stephan and his team are working together with Oliver Schenker from the Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung (ZEW Mannheim) as well as with Claudia Kemfert from the Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW Berlin).

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR

Carole Adolf is a new PhD student in the Terrestrial Paleoecology Group. She did a master thesis on Climatic Influences and Human Impact on Vegetation in Southern Ecuador – A New High-Andean Postglacial Record at the University of Berne. Her PhD project is called A novel technique to calibrate sedimentary charcoal accumulation rates with remote sensing data across Europe and its application under changing climate and vegetation.

David Finger is a new PostDoc in the Hydrology group. He did his PhD at EAWAG Kastanienbaum (Effects of hydropower operation and oligotrophication on internal processes in Lake Brienz). He then gained an SNF-Research fellowship to work as a PostDoc at the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences and worked as a PostDoc at ETHZ as well. His research interests are in interdisciplinary hydrological modelling.

Daniel Krämer is a new PhD student/assistant in the Environmental History and Historical Climatology group. He studied Swiss history, Media and Political Sciences at the University of Bern. His PhD project is on The hunger crisis of 1816/17 in Switzerland.

Ebbe Nielsen is a new member (scientific staff) of the Terrestrial Paleoecology Group. He works at the cantonal archaeology service in Lucerne. His research interests are: Prehistoric settlement and land use in connection with environmental conditions and landscape development, especially during the Stone Age. During the last 30 years his research was marked by a close cooperation with botanists, geologists, geographers and zoologists.

Tiziana Pedrotta is a new PhD student in the Terrestrial Paleoecology Group. She did a master in Biology, option Ecology and Evolution at the University of Fribourg on Non-target effects of a biological control agent against Rumex obtusifolius. Her PhD project is on Paleo-environmental and modeling insights into Mediterranean fire vegetation interactions in response to Holocene climate and land use change. Her research is focussed on lake sediments in the mediterranean area in order to reconstruct vegetational response to climate change and human impact (fire dynamics).

Claire Rambeau is a new member (scientific staff) of the Terrestrial Paleoecology Group. She did a PhD Thesis in the field of Sedimentology and Geochemistry at the University of Neuchâtel (Cadmium anomalies in Jurassic calcareous rocks (Bajocian – Oxfordian) in western and southern Europe). Then she worked as a PostDoc at the University of Reading, UK. She now is an SNSF Ambizione Researcher (project title: Arid Southern Levant: a joint environmental and human history for the Holocene, derived from new archives of climate change (Dead Sea edge, Jordan).

Gary Salazar is a new PostDoc at the Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA). He did his PhD in Biomedical (Bioanalytical) Sciences at the Hiroshima University in Japan and then worked in several PostDoc positions at the Department of Chemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA and at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, USA. His research interests are in Interests: radiocarbon analysis, AMS and instrumental development.

Melanie Salvisberg is a new PhD student in the Environmental History and Historical Climatology group. Her PhD project is called Der teuerste Wildbach der Schweiz – Die Umsetzung von Hochwasserschutzkonzepten vor Ort unter Einschluss ihrer vielfältigen Konsequenzen am Beispiel der Gürbe, 1848-2008. Her research interests are the history of flood control and natural disasters.

Ansgar Schanz is a new PhD student in the Atmospheric Processes Group at the Institute of Applied Physics. He did his MSc at the University of Karlsruhe (CP violating effects in ttbar-production in hadron collisions). His PhD project is on modeling of the stratospheric ozone distribution.

Sarina Steinmann is a new PhD student in the Environmental and Climate Economics group. She did a Master of Science in Economics at the University of Bern. Her thesis was called Fairness and Stability Conditions in the River Sharing Problem under Water Abundance and Water Scarcity.

Alexandra Vlachos Grünig is a new PhD student/assistant in the Environmental History and Historical Climatology group. She studied Contemporary History, Egyptology, Journalism and Communication Sciences at the University of Fribourg. Her PhD project is on: Der Lebensbaum (Thuja plicata) zwischen wirtschaftlicher Ressource und kultureller Identifikation. Ein Beitrag zur Kultur- und Umweltgeschichte von Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.

A big welcome to all of you!