Oeschger News (November 2011)

Successful symposium on methane in lakes and wetlands

Participants from 8 different countries attended the one-day symposium sponsored by the Oeschger Centre on 12 September 2011. A total of 33 oral and poster presentations addressed different aspects of methane production, oxidation and uptake in lakes and other wetland components. At the event, discussions focused on the role of methane from wetlands during past climate change, methane fluxes from different parts of lakes and wetlands such as the open water and littoral vegetation, and upscaling of methane flux measurements to landscape or even global estimates of the methane production from lake and wetland ecosystems. Several presentations described how methane production and oxidation in lakes can be traced with biogeochemical approaches and isotopic analyses of different ecosystem components. A final set of talks demonstrated that methane can provide an important carbon source for foodwebs, both in lakes and rivers, and presented new approaches for reconstructing past changes in methane availability and production in lakes.

What's the age of the ice on Mount Kilimanjaro?

The age of the plateau glaciers on Kilimanjaro's highest peak, Kibo, is currently debated. While Thompson et al. (2002) regard them as a persistent feature of the Holocene disappearing due to rising 20th century temperatures, Kaser et al. (2010) suggest typical 'life cycles' of the ice of only a few hundred years caused by precipitation changes. In order to date Kilimanjaro's ice with a new radiocarbon method, members of Margit Schwikowski's analytical chemistry group from Paul Scherrer Institut collected horizontal ice samples from a 30 m high vertical ice wall of the Northern Ice Field. 24 horizons characterised by different particle contents were selected and two short cores were obtained from each horizon using a battery drill operated by two scientists belayed by top rope. The ice was transported frozen, is now being analysed and first results are expected soon. The expedition was conducted in collaboration with Douglas Hardy, University of Massachusetts, who measured mass balance stakes and serviced the weather station on the Northern Ice Field.

New Scenarios for Climate Change in Switzerland - CH2011

On 28 September the results of the Climate Change Scenarios initiative CH2011, which was initiated and sponsored by the NCCR Climate, were presented at ETH Zurich. The project, a joint initiative of C2SM, ETH, MeteoSwiss, OcCC and the NCCR Climate, lasted several years. The new findings confirm that Swiss climate will get warmer and dryer in summer. Moreover, an increase of extremes such as more frequent and longer heat waves and dry spells in summer are expected. The new scenarios were developed under the umbrella of the Center for Climate Systems Modeling (C2SM). They are based on a new generation of climate models as well as novel statistical methods. The documentation (the full report in English and the summary in English, German, French and Italian) as well as the climate scenario data in digital form can be obtained on ch2011 Website.

Take advantage of the OCCR's funding opportunities

The Oeschger Centre supports its members for the following activities:

  • Conferences and Workshops
  • Visiting Scientist Programme
  • Matching Funds for Infrastructure and Equipment
  • Publications
  • Graduate School of Climate Sciences
  • Fast Track
  • Start-up grants

Active involvement of students at WP3 meeting

On 20 October 2011, OCCR WP3 held its annual meeting at the Inforama Rüti in Zollikofen. In the morning, group leaders and senior scientists presented new research projects and ongoing collaborations among work package members. PhD students joined the meeting after lunch and presented their research at a poster session. Congratulations to Renate Auchmann (Climatology Group) and Christoph Schwörer (Paleoecology Group) who were awarded prizes of 100 CHF for the best posters. In the light of the enthusiastic involvement of students, participants agreed that MSc and PhD students should be included in future meetings. This would certainly facilitate the collaboration among groups.

OCCR plenary meeting - save the date!

The annual meeting of all OCCR members will take place on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 form 14:00 to 18:00. The venue is UniS room A 003. The plenary meeting will be followed by an apéro. A detailed program will be sent out at a later date.

Krystyna Saunders receives Ambizione grant

Geographer and OCCR Member Krystyna Saunders from the group for Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology at the Institute of Geography was awarded a personal Ambizione grant by the SNFS to promote junior researchers. Her project "High resolution reconstructions of climate variability in the sub-Antarctic during the last two millennia" will last form 2012 to 2014 and is based on field work on Macquarie Island in the South Pacific. By the way: Krystynas spectacular field work was featured in the last edition of unilink magazine.

Andreas Türler is a new member of the OCCR's scientific committee

The University of Bern's management board has appointed Professor Andreas Türler as a new member of the scientific committee of the Oeschger Centre. Andreas Türler heads the Laoboratory for Radiochemistry at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Bern as well as the Laboratory of Radiochemistry and Environmental Chemistry at the Paul Scherrer Institute. As member of the OCCR?s scientific committee, he replaces Prof. Heinz Gäggeler.

Rixt de Jong is mother to a newborn son

Rixt de Jong, fellow of the group for Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology at the Institute of Geography gave birth to a baby boy on 14 August 2011. His name is Floris. Congratulations and our best wishes!

PLANAT research award 2011

PLANAT is an extraparlamentary commission dealing with natural hazards in Switzerland. The commission encourages research in the field of prevention against natural hazards and offers 5000 CHF for outstanding research projects in this field. The deadline for entries is 16 December 2011.

Seed funding for research-oriented start-ups

The private funding initiative venture kick aims for an early detection and promotion of promising business ideas at Swiss universities. The goal is to double the number of spin-offs by accelerating the founding process and by making the start-ups attractive for professional investors. The initiative supports potential entrepreneurs with start capital up to CHF 130'000. As well as hands-on execution support and access to a nationwide network off investors and experts in the start-up field. For more detailed information and support contact Christoph Raible with the OCCR management centre.

Associated researchers now welcome at the OCCR

The University's management board has agreed for the OCCR to bestow the status of associated researchers. This will allow strengthening the co-operation with outstanding research groups outside from of the University of Bern in fields of strategic importance. Now the respective criteria and guidelines are being developed.

Ulf Büntgen has habilitated

Ulf Büntgen from the Dendro-Climatology group at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research has habilitated on 6 October 2011. His lecture, the audience found unanimously, was outstanding. Congratulations!

NCCR Climate Summer School - register now!

The 11th International NCCR Climate Summer School takes place at the Monte Verità, Ticino from 9 - 14 September 2012 The Summer School is focusing on the theme "the water cycle in a changing climate". This theme has been chosen due to its paramount importance in terms of both scientific challenges and pressing societal concerns. The specific topics to be addressed include:

  • Observed variations of the water cycle
  • Physical processes governing the hydrological response to climate change
  • Scenarios of the water cycle in a changing climate
  • Anticipated impacts.

OCCR members are kindly invited to attend (all fees covered), but don't forget you have to register until 20 December 2011.

EFS conference on Modes of Variability in the Climate System

OCCR member Hubertus Fischer of the Department of Climate and Environmental Physics is among the organizers of the European Science Foundation (ESF) Conference "Modes of Variability in the Climate System: Past - Present - Future" which is sponsored by the OCCR. It takes place from 27 May - 1 June 2012, in Obergurgl, Austria. The conference includes lectures by invited high level speakers, short talks by young & early stage researchers, poster sessions, round table and open discussion periods as well as forward look panel discussion about future developments. The conference is open to everybody interested in the topic. Participants will be selected on a competitive basis. The deadline for application is 22 January 2012.

Workshop for young researchers on environmental economics

The Group of Climate Economics at the Department of Economics organizes a workshop for young researchers on "Umwelt- und Ressourcenökonomie" for German speaking scientists. The workshop takes place on 6 - 7 February 2012, and the deadline for application and contributions is 21 November 2011.

The great Climate Poker

The OCCR made a well noted appearance at the first ever Night of Science at the University of Bern on 23 September 2011. Under the catchy title of The great Climate Poker the audience was invited to engage in a poker game with high-tech dices that were developed in co-operation with the Bern University of Applied Sciences. The wireless dices thrown by the public provided the data for a re-enactment of the last 150 years of climate history. The game was part of an interactive lecture held by OCCR members Stefan Brönnimann from the Climatology Group at the Institute of Geography and Matthias Bigler of the Department of Climate and Environmental Physics. The set of five electronic dices that help to explain the forcing factors of the climate system in a playful way are available for lectures, events etc. at the OCCR Management Centre.

The influence of Climate Change on hydro power production

The Hydrology Group at the Institute of Geography organized a conference on The Influence of Climate Change on Hydro Power Production on 8 September 2011 in Brig. The event was realised together with the Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and the Netzwerk Wasser im Bergebiet (NWB). More than 100 participants attended the conference which was the final event of the research project Climate Change and Hydro Power.

Easy access to data of IPCC global climate simulations

An impressive amount of data of global climate simulations is currently produced for the next IPCC assessment Report as part of the CMIP5 project. In total several petabytes of data will be produced. The Center for Climate Systems Modeling (C2SM) makes these data available for all interested researchers.

Political scientist Karin Ingold joins OCCR

Karin Ingold of the Department of Social Sciences has joined the OCCR. The political scientist who has recently been appointed an assistant professor (tenure track) is a former NCCR Climate Ph.D. and has worked at the Institute for Environmental Decisions at ETH Zurich. She now holds the new chair for Policy Analysis with a special focus on Environmental Policy at the University of Bern which is partly sponsored by the aquatic research institute Eawag.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR

Jörg Franke is a new PostDoc in the Climatology Group. He did his PhD in Geosciences at the University of Bremen, Germany on "Modeling the spatial and temporal variability of radiocarbon reservoir ages in the late Quaternary"

Ole Rössler is a new PostDoc in the Hydrology Group. He did his PhD in Geography at the University of Bonn, Germany. His research interests include impacts of Climate Change and Land Use on treelines.

Benjamin Amann is a new PhD student in the Paleolimnology and Palaeoecology Group. He gained his diploma in Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Toulouse, France in 2010.

Michael Battaglia technical staff Gruppe Szidat

Federico Cossu is a new PhD student in the Group for Microwave Physics at the Institute of Applied Physics. He did his MSc in Astrophysics at the University of Torino, Italy in 2008 on "Physical properties of the galactic open cluster Stock 2 from astrometric and photometric data". In 2009 he did a 2nd level Master in Space and communication Systems, at the University of L'Aquila, Italy on "Model and analysis of the photometric performence of the PLATO mission".

Paul Froidevaux is a new PhD student at the Climate Impact Group. He did a MSc in Atmospheric and Climate Sciences at ETH Zurich in 2011.

Manuela Milan PhD student at the Group for Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology. She did her MSc in Natural Science at the University of Padua, Italy in 2007

A big welcome to all of you!