Oeschger News (May 2014)

Huge public attention for CH2014-Impacts 

CH2014-Impacts, the report on the quantitative consequences of climate change for Switzerland that has been produced under the direction of the Oeschger Centre over the last two years was successfully launched on 14 March 2014. Two of the many statements from the report are: Southern Switzerland emerges as a hotspot of the effects of climate change. And the bark beetle is putting spruces all over Switzerland under increasing pressure, because an additional generation of pests could hatch each year due to the rising temperatures. The results of CH2014-Impacts were extensively quoted by Swiss and international media. You can download the report or order your free printed copy.

Funds for interdisciplinary flood reconstruction projects granted

Christian Rohr (head of the Environmental History and Historical Climatology group) and Rolf Weingartner (head of the Hydrology group) have been granted funds by the SNSF for their project Reconstruction of the genesis, process and impact of major pre-instrumental flood events of major Swiss rivers including a peak discharge quantification. The project team that includes a new PostDoc researcher and a Ph.D. student will start work in autumn 2014. The main goal of the project is the reconstruction of extreme hydrological events of the period before the onset of national hydrological gauge measurements (pre-instrumental period). This will include an emphasis on the long-term series of reconstructed peak discharges of pre-instrumental flood events of main Swiss rivers (Aare, Limmat, Reuss, and Rhine Rivers). Another output will be the reconstruction of flooding areas. Furthermore, the reconstructed pre-instrumental peak discharges shall be homogenised to the actual hydrological regime so that they become comparable with floods under present day conditions. In the long term, a historical hydrological database, specially designed for the needs of research and (federal or private) institutions being interested in flood risk assessment and/or flood protection measures, should be set up.

Up to 800,000 years of Indo-Pacific climate history to be drilled in 2015

Lake sediments hold invaluable records of past climate change, their recovery, however, requires deep drilling initiatives. The multinational Lake Towuti Drilling Project (TDP), with OCCR member Hendrik Vogel (Quaternary Geology and Paleoclimatology group) as co-PI, recently received funds to move forward with the planning and execution of drilling operations at Lake Towuti, Indonesia in 2015. Funding for this logistically challenging project is provided through the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), national funding agencies from Indonesia, USA, Germany, Australia, Canada, and Switzerland (SNSF), and industrial partnership with Vale Base Metals. One of the ultimate aims of the project is to produce a continuous and temporarily highly resolved record of hydroclimate variability spanning multiple glacial-interglacial cycles in a crucially important yet understudied region- the Western Pacific warm pool, heart of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The enormous promise of Lake Towuti’s sediment record for reconstructions of the regions hydroclimate history has recently been documented in form of a study on short (~10 m long) piston cores recovered from the lake in 2010. The study Glacial forcing of central Indonesian hydroclimate since 60,000 y B.P.  co-authored by Hendrik Vogel was recently published in the journal PNAS. One of the key findings of the study shows that northern Hemisphere Ice Sheets appear to exert a strong influence on Indo-Pacific hydroclimate with dry periods in Indonesia closely tied to periods of maximum ice volume. Deep drilling in 2015 eventually will unravel how these teleconnections in the global climate system acted on a timescale covering multiple glacial-interglacial cycles.

Adaptation strategies to cope with low flood periods

In January, a new project with participation of the OCCR has started. It is called "Klimaanpassung Oberaargau" and deals with the development of adaptation strategies to cope with the effects of climate change on low flow periods in Swiss lowlands. It is part of the new Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) pilot study on adaptation strategies to climate change. The project is co-financed by the WWF and the Canton of Berne and will be conducted in the Smaragd region Oberaargau. Smaragd regions are regions of national interested in terms of valuable landscapes and species diversity. Ole Rössler (Hydrology group) and two Master students will contribute to this study by providing the hydrological background for the development of adaptation strategies. Both multi-model simulations and extended fieldwork will be conducted to provide a spatially differentiated assessment of low flows, water levels, and water quality. Water levels and water quality – especially temperature – are of major importance for the biodiversity of the Smaragd region and shall be managed under climate change conditions.

Fieldwork at Jungfraujoch to study rain-on-snow events

The rain-on-snow event in 2011 in Switzerland was in some senses extraordinary. Therefor two OCCR groups conducted major investigations to understand this event. But this research raised some additional questions such us: How does the rainfall water moves in the snow pack? What influences the liquid water holding capacity? And what role does rainfall intensity play? Unfortunately, little data exists today to answer these questions. Therefore, based on an idea of Czech geomorphologists, a new measuring device was developed by the Hydrology group of OCCR, a mobile irrigation device that continuously measures rainfall, runoff, temperature, and weight. To test and further develop this device, Sabine Probst and Ole Rössler will conduct a series of experiments at Jungfraujoch where the High Altitude Research Station Jungfraujoch provided comprehensive infrastructural support.

Sculpture of the Zytglogge Tower “Hans von Thann” younger than expected

Hans von Thann is a 2.5m-high wooden sculpture on top of the Zytglogge Tower in Bern. It has been striking the hour for several centuries. In spite of a first documentary evidence from the 15th century, however, the exact age of this figure is not known due to a variety of poorly specified conservation measures since then. During the latest restoration of the figure this spring, the Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA) collected wood samples from different parts and determined that the head originates from the late 16th / early 17th century, whereas the body is not older than ~200 years. Among other media, the TV programme Schweiz Aktuell did a news feature on the restoration work and the contribution of the OCCR’s 14C dating facility.

Jungfrau Climate guide to be re-launched

In 2009, the OCCR has developed the so-called Jungfrau Climate Guide, a comprehensive outreach project that was realized on the occasion of the 175th birthday of the University of Bern. The aim of this innovative project was to provide facts and research results on the spot in the Jungfrau area, where the effects of climate change can clearly be seen. For this purpose, an early form of an application for iPhones was developed. In June, the Climate Guide 2.0 will be launched as a (almost) free app. Funding for this re-launch could be obtained from the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Gebäudeversicherung Bern (GVB) and the University of Bern.

Special Session International Symposium on Eastern Mediterranean Geology

Claire Rambeau (Terrestrial Paleoecology group) organises a session at the 8th International Symposium on Eastern Mediterranean Geology, ISEMG, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Turkey, from 13 to 17 October 2014. She is responsible for the Special Session [SeS08] – Levantine palaeoenvironments, palaeoclimates and ancient human populations – Pleistocene-Holocene. Deadline for abstracts: 15 May 2014.

Apéro series for young OCCR scientists hosted by Hydrology group

The third edition of the so-called OCCR Apéro series took place on 4 April 2014 at Institute of Geography, where members of the Hydrology group welcomed some 30 PhD students and PostDocs. In the courtyard of the institute, they used a working model of the water cycle to explain their work with computer models in hydrological research. The aim of the biannual get-together is to introduce young scientist across all OCCR-fields to one another. Thus, after one hour of research presentations, animated discussions followed over beer and snacks. The next event will be hosted in September 2014 by the Terrestrial Paleoecology group.

OCCR members win poster awards at Swiss Global Change Day

Two OCCR PhD students were among the winners at the Swiss Global Change Day poster session that took place in Bern on 2 April 2014 in Bern. At this annual get together of the Swiss climate science community the best posters in the fields of WCRP, IGBP and IHDP are selected by a jury and honoured with a travel award of 1000 CHF each. Niklaus Merz (Earth System Modeling – Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group) was awarded for his poster North Atlantic eddy-driven jet in interglacial and glacial winter climates (Poster, 872 KB), Marina Morlock (Aquatic Paleoecology group) was awarded for Can water fleas (Daphnia) provide insights into lake water methane concentrations? (Poster, 1.2 MB), and Peter Stucki (Climatology group) for A catalog of high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859 (Poster, 2.6 MB)

The OCCR is part of the Science Night

On 6 September 2014, the University of Bern is organizing its second Science Night. The first edition in 2011 was attended by more than 7’000 people. 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 at the ExWi building. Save the date!

Quantitative and large scale estimates of past changes in ocean circulation

Jörg Lippold (Paleoceanography and Marine Biogeochemistry group) has been granted a Marie Curie Action and has started his project OCEAN-QUANT in March. The project aims at providing, for the first time, quantitative and large scale estimates of past changes in ocean circulation enabling more reliable large scale climate predictions. This study opens a new aspect in the on-going research on paleoclimatology at the OCCR. Jörg holds a PosDoc position and will apply a multidisciplinary approach that combines the generation of new (paleo) circulation records from sedimentary archives recovered from the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific ocean basins with the use of ocean circulation models. The methods he applies will embrace techniques and expertise from the research fields of climatology, geochemistry, climate modelling, mass spectrometry, micropaleontology, paleoceanography, radiochemistry, and environmental physics.

OCCR Plenary Meeting on 11 September 2014

The next OCCR Plenary Meeting will take place on 11 September 2014 (afternoon). Please save the date.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

Christine Aebi is a new PhD student with the Atmospheric Radiometry and Processes group. She did her master studies in Climate Science at the University of Bern and wrote a thesis on Climatological analysis of the link between 
potential vorticity streamers and warm conveyor belts in the winter months 1989-2009. Her PhD project is on Comprehensive Radiation Flux Assessment (CRUX).

Takuro Kobashi is a new PostDoc with the Environmental Isotopes and Gases group. He studied in Hokkaido, Japan and at the University Texas A&M, and did his PhD at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, USA. His last employment was with the National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo where he was a project assistant professor. He investigatet Greenland temperature variations over the Holocene and analysed firn air and borehole temperature from Dome Fuji, Antarctica. His research interests are in climate change, Holocene, ice cores, and human society.

Jörg Lippold is a new PostDoc with the Paleoceanography and Marine Biogeochemistry group. He got a diploma in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tübingen, Germany and did a PhD in Environmental Physics at the Academy of Sciences, Heidelberg. He is now a Marie Curie Fellow. His research interests are in ocean circulation, radiogenic isotopes, and paleoclimatology.

Mikhael Schwander is a new PhD student with the Climatology group. He obtained a M.Sc. in Climate Sciences at the University of Bern with a thesis entitled Historic winter storms in Switzerland - Analysis of weather classes. His PhD project is on 250 years weather type classification and solar activity influence on past climate (FUPSOL project). His research focus is on early instrumental data and on the solar influence on past climate.

Lena Thöle is a new PhD student with the Paleoceanography and Marine Biogeochemistry group. She did a Bachelor in Biological Sciences at the University of Konstanz, Germany and gained a Master in Climate Sciences at University of Bern with a thesis on the Reconstruction of Holocene Vegetation Dynamics at Lac de Bretaye, Switzerland. Her PhD project is on Southern Ocean Paleoceanopgraphy and Glacial - Interglacial Changes in the Global Efficiency of the Biological Pump.

A warm welcome to all of you!

Researchers who have recently left the OCCR:

Adrian Schilt who was a PostDoc with the Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean group is now with Federal Office for the Environment FOEN. He works in the climate division in the field of climate reporting and adaptation to climate change.

Raphael Roth who was a PhD student with the Earth System Modeling - Bio-Geo-Chemical-Cycles group is on travels.

All the best to you!