Oeschger News (May 2013)

Mobiliar Lab for climate risks and natural hazards

The Swiss Mobiliar cooperative insurance company has decided to substantially expand its existing collaboration with the Oeschger Centre for Climate Research (OCCR) of the University of Bern. A "Mobiliar lab for climate risks and natural hazards" is to be established as part of the Mobiliar Chair for Climate Impact Research in the Alpine Region at the OCCR. The research conducted by the Mobiliar lab will concentrate on quantifying climate risks and natural hazards, particularly wind, hail, water and mass wasting with very high spatial resolution. The planned research projects will study the recent past, for which instrumental measurements are available, the present and the next few decades. Extreme events from the last millennium, which are of great importance for the present and the future, will also be investigated. In conjunction with the Mobiliar Chair and other research groups both inside and outside the OCCR, the Mobiliar lab is to combine pure research, interdisciplinary practical research and implementation projects. Financing for the Mobiliar lab is initially secured until 2020. The lab will come into operation in autumn 2013.

New radiocarbon dating system officially inaugurated

The new 1.8 million franc 14C laboratory known as MICADAS (MIni radioCArbon DAting System) was inaugurated in a formal ceremony on 3 May 2013. Part of the event was a scientific symposium that was attended by approximately 140 scientists and practitioners interested in the new possibilities offered by the accelerator mass spectrometer. Among other things, MICADAS is to be used for radiocarbon dating, for tracing environmental radioactivity and for analysing CO2 emissions. The new laboratory is open not only to researchers attached to the Oeschger Centre, but also to any other interested party. For example, archaeologists require dating that is as accurate as possible, and in the field of arts 14C analysis is common practice. "The MICADAS project is a prime example of the way in which the Oeschger Centre can pool strengths, exploit synergies and implement major projects," OCCR director Martin Grosjean said at the ceremony. The new facility is operated by the Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA). The MICADAS inauguration was widely covered in the media.

Dietmar Wagenbach invited as a visiting scientist

Dietmar Wagenbach is a renowned scientist in the field of ice core aerosol records from the University of Heidelberg. He has been collaborating for a long time with the OCCR's Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group and he will now join the OCCR as a visiting scientist from September 2013 to January 2014. Dietmar Wagenbach will teach a course in glaciology as part of the Oeschger Lectures in the fall semester 2013. Among other planned joint research activities, Dietmar Wagenbachs experience with tritium deposition in coastal Antarctica should lead to a joint publication with his host Hubertus Fischer and colleagues at the OCCR.

New OCCR position for regional modelling

As a response to internal discussions at the OCCR about our strengths and weaknesses as well as future avenues to be developed, the OCCR Board has decided to open a postdoctoral position for "Regional Climate Modelling" (2 + 2 years). Concept and job announcement will follow shortly.

Urs Feller steps down form the OCCR Scientific Board

Urs Feller (Plant Nutrition and Ecophysiology group) has stepped down as the representative of biological sciences in the OCCR Scientific Board where he had been serving since 2007. We thank him warmly for his contribution and support of the OCCR. The University Board of Directors has approved Willy Tinner (Terrestrial Paleoecology group) as the new member of the OCCR Scientific Board.

A record audience at the "Tag für Hydrologie" conference in Bern

Over 300 researchers and practitioners met for the 15th "Tag der Hydrologie", the yearly conference of the Deutsche Fachgemeinschaft Hydrologische Wissenschaften. This conference, co-sponsored by the OCCR, is an annual meeting for hydrologists (and related scientists) from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. For the first time in its history the conference took place in Switzerland. The 2013 edition of the TDH, mainly organized by the OCCR's Hydrology group, caused more interest than ever. More than 100 different research projects were presented and some 30 presentations were held in 3 parallel sessions. The conference proceedings can be downloaded from the permanent website of the THD 2013.

Well attended side events at Bern Hydrology Conference

The German hydrological society (DHG) awarded, on the occasion of the conference "Tag der Hydrologie", three posters in the categories "best design", "most innovative study" and "best thematic link". They can be downloaded from the permanent website of the event. On the third and last day of the conference, over 40 persons attended an excursion in the region of Thun about "flood prevention in the Bernese Oberland". The consequences of the Kander deviation into the lake of Thun 300 years ago as well as the functionality of the new flood tunnel under the city of Thun were highlighted. A team of the Swiss television accompanied the group and reported on the above-average snow heights in the Bernese Oberland and possible floods in the case of rapidly increasing temperatures and heavy precipitations. The link to the video is on the website.

Apero series for young OCCR scientists successfully launched

On 26 April 2013 the first edition of the so called OCCR Apero series took place at the ExWi building. The aim of this new form of get-together is to introduce young scientist across all OCCR-fields to one another and it was perfectly met as some 30 PhDs and PostDocs followed the invitation of the KUP groups (Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores, Earth System Modeling - Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles, Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics). After an hour of lab visits and research presentations, animated discussions followed over beer and snacks. After the event participants were unanimous: This exciting first edition of young researchers Apero should be followed by many more! The next event is already scheduled. Hosted by the Environmental History and Historical Climatology group, it will take place in September 2013.

OCCR Plenary Assembly on 20 August 2013

Up to now the OCCR's plenary assembly took place just once a year. In order to stay in closer contact OCCR members decided to meet twice this year. The next plenary meeting will take place on 20 August 2013. Please save the date.

IGBP SSC meeting took place in Bern

The OCCR, the IGBP-Past Global Changes PAGES programme (co-chaired by Hubertus Fischer of the Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group) and ProClim of the Swiss Academy of Science jointly hosted the annual Scientific Committee meeting of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme. IGBP was launched in 1987 to coordinate international research on interactions between Earth's biological, chemical and physical processes and their interactions with human systems. The main topics of the meeting on 16 - 19 April 2013 in Bern were reviewing the last 25 years of IGBP Global Change research and gearing up for the new follow-up programme "Future Earth", a new 10-year international research initiative about global environmental change. The key issue for the future is to better involve and build capacity in research on Human Dimensions of Climate/Global Change (economy, sociology, humanities etc.) - a topic which will be most relevant for the Oeschger Centre as well.

The Water Cycle in a Changing Climate

Bruno Schädler (Hydrology group) is one of the keynote speakers at a symposium about the effects of climate change on the Earth's water cycle organised by the Center for Climate Systems Modeling (C2SM) on 1 - 2 July 2013 at ETH Zurich. The goal of the symposium is to review the current understanding of the processes governing the water cycle, and to explore new frontiers in using climate change information towards coping with emerging challenges. The symposium will feature both invited keynote lectures and contributed oral and poster presentations. C2SM invites the submission of abstracts for oral or poster presentations to one of the following themes: global aspects, regional to local scales, and impacts. Contributions from PhD students are particularly welcome.

Samuel Jaccard is a new member of the OCCR

Samuel Jaccard has gained an SNSF professorship with his project "SeaO2 - Past changes in Southern Ocean overturning circulation - implications for the partitioning of carbon and oxygen between the ocean and the atmosphere". He is a specialist for climate geology and has worked as a research assistant at ETH Zurich. He now joins the University of Bern and will build up his own research group.

Flavio Anselmetti is a new member of the OCCR

Flavio Anselmetti who was appointed as a full professor for Quaternary Geology and Paleoclimatology at the University of Bern last year did his diploma in geology at the University of Basel and then gained his PhD at ETH Zurich and the University of Miami. Before joining the University of Bern and the OCCR, he was head of the Sedimentology group at EAWAG Dübendorf, and titular professor at ETH Zurich.

Albert Hafner is a new adjunct researcher at the OCCR

Alber Hafner was appointed a full professor for Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Bern last year. In his last position he was responsible for the underwater archaeology of the Archaeological service of the Canton of Bern. His research interests are in Holocene climate events and climate evolution in relation to prehistoric societies, wetland and alpine sites, dendrochronology and palaeoecology.

Isotopes conference to take place in Bern in August

The Oeschger Centre and the Community Earth System Model (CESM) Paleoclimate Working Group of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder jointly organise the conference "The Isotopes of Carbon, Water, and Geotracers in Paleoclimate Research" in Bern from 26 to 28 August 2013. The conference will reach across the disciplines to bring together scientists who work on different climate archives and focus on physical or biogeochemical processes and couplings.

Funding Opportunities and support

Don't forget! The Oeschger Centre supports its members for activities such as conferences and workshops, visiting scientists programmes and publications. Besides we provide funding for selected high-profile conferences and workshops.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

Lena Hellmann is a new PhD student with the Dendroclimatology group. She gained a M.Sc. in Geography at the University of Würzburg in Germany and did her master thesis at the WSL in Birmensdorf on Arctic driftwood. Her PhD project is about the potential and limitation of arctic driftwood as an environmental archive.

Stefan Klesse is a new PhD student with the Earth System Modeling - Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles group. He gained a diploma in Geography (Dendroclimatology) at the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany. His PhD project is about annually resolved changes in forest growth and productivity.

Kuno Strassmann has joined the OCCR Management Centre as a project coordinator for the CH2014 study. He did his PhD in the OCCR's Earth System Modeling - Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles group and then worked for the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan.

A warm welcome to all of you!

Researchers who have recently left the OCCR:

Valentina Cocco who finshed her PhD in the Earth System Modeling - Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles group.

Nina Köplin who was a PostDoc in the Hydrology group has moved to the University of Umea in Sweden.

Jérémy Lucchetti who was a PostDoc in the Environmental and Climate Economics has moved to the University of Geneva.

Stefan Ritz who was a PostDoc in the Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group now works in the private sector.

Harald von Waldow who was a PostDoc in the Climate Impact Group is now with the C2SM at ETH Zurich.

All the best to you!