Oeschger News (November 2013)

Performance mandate for the OCCR extended

OCCR President Fortunat Joos and Director Martin Grosjean got a very positive feedback when they discussed the work of the Oeschger Centre at the annual strategy talks with the senior management of the University of Bern in October. The Executive Board put a particular emphasis on existing co-operations between research groups within the OCCR, they would like them to develop even further in the future. Most importantly, the Executive Board let the OCCR representatives know that the performance mandate (Leistungsauftrag) for the Oeschger Centre will be extended from 2014 to 2017.

Release of IPCC report creates huge media attention

OCCR members played a central role in the new IPCC report. When the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was presented in Stockholm on 27 September 2013, Thomas Stocker, a founding member of the Oeschger Centre, generated global public attention. Thomas has been leading the IPCC's 'science' working group as its co-chair since 2008. Authors of the AR5 include other OCCR researchers as well. Lead Authors were: Stefan Brönnimann and Baris Karapinar. Heinz Wanner was working as a reviewer on the report. A press release on the release of the AR5 by the University of Bern's media desk was extensively quoted by national and international print and online media. Nathalie Matter who is responsible for the University's PR said: "We do an annual ranking of the press releases that got most attention. The one on the University of Bern's role in producing the IPCC report will certainly be Nr. 1 in 2013."

OCCR researcher plays leading role in search for oldest ice

Hubertus Fischer (head of the Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group) is one of a handful of leading climate scientist who are currently preparing the ground for a new major ice core drilling campaign in Antarctica. In a paper, just published in Climate of the Past, they identified regions that could store information about Earth's climate and greenhouse gases extending as far back as 1.5 million years, almost twice as old as the oldest ice core drilled to date. To actually set up a drilling campaign, geophysical reconnaissance studies must be conducted in the near future to identify the area best suited. These preliminary studies, in which a novel fast drilling technology currently developed in Bern would play a pivotal role, might ideally be realized over the next 3-5 years. The ice core drilling project itself could then start at the end of this decade. To find the "oldest ice on earth" a budget of 30 to 50 Million Euros will be needed according to Hubertus Fischer.

Working groups 1 and 2 meet for discussions

On 8 November 2013 the working groups 1 and 2 of the Oeschger Centre met at the OCCR's management centre. The about 30 participants of this annual meeting discussed topics such as:

  • Tetrafluormethan (CF4) in ice cores
  • STALCLIM Switzerland - how precise works the Swiss natural clock?
  • The atmospheric water cycle in the WRF model and in observations
  • Tree-ring amplification of the early-19th century cooling
  • Volcanic eruptions and European summer precipitation
  • Evolution of peatlands and land carbon stores over the last 20 ka
  • Climatic control of the millennial-scale fire variability in wet and dry savannas of equatorial East Africa
  • Climate reconstructions by lake sediments: Contributions to PAGES2k

Growing activities in the field of conferences

One of the Oeschger Centre's major roles is to foster scientific exchange - among its research groups as well as within the scientific community. The number of conferences that are organized with the support of the OCCR is constantly growing. Over the past months several new conferences or innovative formats proved to be highly successful. From 26 to 28 August 2013 the OCCR and the Community Earth System Model (CESM) Paleoclimate Working Group of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, jointly organized the conference The Isotopes of Carbon, Water, and Geotracers in Paleoclimate Research. The event brought together more than 80 scientists who work on different climate archives and focus on physical or biogeochemical processes across the disciplines. The response to the conference was so positive that a follow-up will take place in 2015 in Paris. On 11 and 12 October 2013 the OCCR organized a conference under the title Probabilistic Modeling in Science and Philosophy that was attended by around 50 natural scientists and humanists to address methodological and philosophical questions about probabilistic models, their targets, purposes, and limitations. Planned conferences for 2014 include Remote Sensing of Snow, Glaciers and Ice Caps: Monitoring the Cryosphere in near-real time and for climate studies from 3 - 6 February 2014, Culture, Climate and Environment Interactions at Prehistoric Wetland Sites from 11?-?14 June, and the First European Hail Storms Workshop on June 25 and 27. For details of past and future OCCR conferences

Climate and famine in the far North

Heli Huhtamaa is a historian of the climate - an extremely rare species in Finland. She realized she would have to go abroad to break out of her isolation and progress as a scientist. "My first choice was Bern, because this is a place where I can exchange ideas with the pioneers of historical climatology," she explained. "When people in Bern try to tell me how small the city is", she said in an interview, "I think to myself: Just come and take a look at us in Joensuu! I come from a very sparsely inhabited area." Read the full story on the Finish historian who is writing part of her doctoral thesis on climate and famine in the far North at the OCCR.

Make the Graduate School of Climate Sciences grow!

The Oeschger Centre is not only about research. An important part of its mandate is teaching. Thus, the success of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences is a crucial element of the OCCR's evaluation by the University of Bern's Executive Board. That's why it is so important that all young scientists doing a Ph.D. in one of the OCCR's research groups are part of the Graduate School. Insist on being part of this program, if you are a Ph.D. student yourself. And if you are a supervisor, do register your Ph.D. students! Contact: michael.riffler@oeschger.unibe.ch. The Graduate School consists of both, a Ph.D. and a M.Sc. program, which, by the way, is doing very well. This September, 19 new students (11 male, 8 female) have started their master studies - more than ever before since the program was initiated in 2007. 4 of the new arrivals joined from abroad, 5 from the University of Bern and 10 from other Swiss universities. Currently the Graduate School counts a total of 38 master and 49 Ph.D. students.

OCCR Plenary Meeting on 10 February 2014

The next OCCR Plenary Meeting will take place on 10 February 2014 (14 ? 17h).

The Scientific Board will meet in the morning of the same day. Please save the date!

Talk by Mathis Wackernagel, Global Footprint Network

Mathis Wackernagel, the president of Global Footprint Network, will give a talk on Ecological constraints and competitiveness on 20 November 2013 (12:15 - 13:15) at the World Trade Institute, Hallerstr. 6, Bern. The Global Footprint Network is an international sustainability think-tank bringing ecological limits to the center of sustainable decision-making.

Conference for MICADAS users

MICADAS, the Oeschger Centre's new 14C dating facility is becoming ever more busy. Users of the MIni radioCArbon DAting System will meet on 17 December 2013 at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Anybody interested to attend should contact Sönke Szidat soenke.szidat@dcb.unibe.ch.

CH2014-Impacts study to be presented in March

More than 20 groups from all over the country were involved in this common effort of the Swiss climate research community. Now the study that was initiated and coordinated by the OCCR is being finalized for its presentation. ?CH2014-Impacts - Towards Quantitative Scenarios of Climate Change Impacts in Switzerland" will be launched on 14 March 2014 (afternoon) at the University of Bern. Save the date!

Flexible climate and agricultural models for policy makers

Jürg Fuhrer (head of the Air Pollution/Climate group) was interviewed on agricultural adaptation to climate change by International Innovation, "the leading global dissemination resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities" in its own words. In an additional report the magazine presents studies at Agroscope Research Station in Zürich, where Jürg Fuhrer is based, that develop "highly flexible climate and agricultural models for use by policy makers which could herald enormous economic and environmental benefits".

New specialist for regional climate modelling

As stated earlier, the OCCR has created a PostDoc position in the field of regional climate modelling. Juan José Gómez-Navarro, who was chosen for this job, has recently started work. He studied physics (B.Sc.) at the University of Murcia in Spain, then he did a master in quantitative finances in Madrid and finally got a Ph.D. in Science 2012 on a fellowship funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education. Before joining the OCCR's group for Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics, Juan José worked at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht in Germany. He currently works on the use of regional climate models in high-resolution simulations for the Alpine area focusing on extreme precipitation events. Besides, he is involved in several scientific projects such as SPEQTRES, PRIME2, SALVÁ-SINOBAS, ESCENA or EOLMAP. When asked why he wanted to join the OCCR, Juan José said: "I came to Bern because of the cheese and chocolate. Haha, well, not only that. Here I have the opportunity to work in a large, widely known and multidisciplinary group of people. The research and networking possibilities here are incredible." Don't hesitate to take advantage of Juan José expertise and contact him gomez@climate.unibe.ch if you need any assistance regarding regional climate models.

Young researchers visit the state archives and meet for drinks

The second edition of the "OCCR Apéro series" was organized by the Environmental History and Historical Climatology group. The aim of this new form of get-together is to introduce young scientist across all areas of OCCR research to one another. This goal was perfectly met when some 30 PhDs and PostDocs met at the archive of the Canton of Bern on 27 September to be introduced to the work of climate historians. After the presentation of historical sources and the role the play in different fields of climate research, the joyful group of young OCCR researchers continued more personal discussions over drinks and snacks. The next edition of the Apéro series will be hosted by the Hydrology group and will take place in spring 2014.

Applications for Mercator Professorship are invited

The Department of Economics of the University of Bern invites applications for a full-time Assistant-Professorship (tenure track) in environmental and climate economics which is jointly founded by the Mercatorstiftung and the University of Bern. The advertisement stresses a research interest in environmental and climate economics with a strong focus on empirical and/or experimental research in particular and underlines that close cooperation with the Oeschger Centre of Climate Research (OCCR) is expected.

NCCR Climate Summer School 2014 - register now!

The 13th International Swiss Climate Summer School will take place from 31 August - 5 September 2014 in Grindelwald. It is focusing on the theme "Linking land use, land cover, and 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:

  • Land cover dynamics and interactions with the atmosphere
  • Linking disparate systems: from climate to impacts
  • Rapid climate change and biotic responses
  • Climate change and "safe operating space" of the planet

The summer school is open to young researchers (PhD students and young PostDocs). OCCR members are kindly invited to attend but preference is given to students of the OCCR's Graduate School of Climate Sciences. For them, all fees covered. Please don't forget to register until 20 December 2013.

New Ph.D. thesis funded by Bretscher-Fonds

Martina Messmer has just started work the OCCR's Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group. She has received a fellowship from the Dr. Alfred Bretscher Fund for Climate and air pollution research to study the effect of Vb weather conditions on precipitations in the alpine area. Before joining the OCCR she studied at ETH Zurich and wrote a master thesis on Atmospheric Teleconnections Related to Regional Anomalous Arctic Sea Ice.

Young Researchers Meeting 2014 - save the date!

On 19 and 20 June 2014, the OCCR's Young Researchers Meeting will take place at the Hotel Aeschi Park located above the Lake of Thun. The focus of the upcoming meeting is on science and communication. Besides workshops, there will be ample time for informal exchange of ideas between young climate researchers. The Young Researchers Meeting is open to PhD students and PostDocs. The official announcement will follow soon.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

Gianna Battaglia is a new PostDoc with the Earth System Modeling - Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles group. She did a Master thesis in Marine Biogeochemistry at ETH Zurich on Empirical Relationships for Chlorophyll and Primary Production in the Global Oceans. She is now writing her Ph.D. thesis entitled Probability Assessment of Carbon Cycle Aspects for the 21st Century, Calcium Carbonate Cycling.

Daniel Burkhard is a new PhD student with the Environmental History and Historical Climatology group. His research interests are history of agriculture, and social and economic impacts of climatic extremes in the 20th century in Switzerland.

Juan Carlos Chang is a new PhD student with the Climatology group. He studied atmospheric science at La Molina Agricultural University in Lima, Peru and did a MSc at the University of Missouri, USA on using expert system technology for crop yield assessment. Within the framework of the CLIMANDES Project, he will investigate ways to improve the downscaling accuracy in mountainous zones by using reconstructed data. The focus here is to face a problem in developing countries: data scarcity, especially in mountainous areas.

Tobias Erhardt is a new PhD student with the Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group.

Juan José Gómez-Navarro is a new PostDoc with the Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group. He is the OCCR's new specialist for regional climate modelling (see article above).

Heli Huhtamaa is a new visiting PhD student with the Environmental History and Historical Climatology group. Her research focus is on the interrelationships between climate, food systems, and human well-being in northern Europe prior to the modern era. Heli is visiting for a year from the University of Eastern Finland (see article above).

Stefan Hunziker is a new PhD student with the Climatology group, his research interest is in the CLIMANDES project.

Gian Lieberherr is a new PhD student with the Climatology group. His research interests are remote sensing of lake surface temperature and lake ice detection, and his Ph.D. project is called A European Lake Surface Water Temperature data set derived from NOAA/Metop-AVHRR (1983 - 2013) - a proxy for climate change.

Abdul Malik is a new PhD student with the Climatology group. His fields of research are: Effects of Solar Forcing on Climate, and Solar Irradiance Variability and South Asian Monsoon. His PhD project is called Role of Solar Activity in Enhancing the Prediction Skill of Climate on Seasonal to Decadal Time Scale.

Andrey Martynov is a new PostDoc with the Mobiliar Group for Climate Change Impact Research. He got his degree as engineer-physicist at the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute, he did a Ph.D. at ETH Lausanne and he got a Diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées en meteorology at the Université du Québec in Montreal. His research interest are hailstorms, extreme events, floods, Regional Climate Modelling and WRF. Besides, Andrey is the responsible person for IT in the Mobiliar Group.

Martina Messmer is a new PhD student with the Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group. She studied at ETH Zurich and wrote a master thesis on Atmospheric Teleconnections Related to Regional Anomalous Arctic Sea Ice. She does her PhD project called The effect of Vb weather conditions on precipitations in the alpine area on a fellowship from the Dr. Alfred Bretscher Fund (see article above).

Fabian Rey is a new PhD student with the Terrestrial Paleoecology group. His research interest are paleoclimatology, paleoecology, climate change in polar regions, and polar research.

Marco Rohrer is a new PhD student with the Climatology group. He obtained his Master degree at ETH Zurich and wrote his Master thesis about circulation types and climate change in the Alpine region at MeteoSwiss. His current research focus is on the analysis of extreme events in the past 400 years using observational as well as model data.

Adrian Schilt is a new PostDoc with the Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group Research. He did his Master and Ph.D. studies in Physics at the University of Bern and then went for a PostDoc to Oregon State University. His research interests are past climate change reconstructions, concentration and isotopic composition of greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide, methane, and ice core analyses.

Melanie Ruosch is a new PhD student with the Earth System Modeling - Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles group.

Simon Schüpbach is a new PostDoc with the Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group. He did a Ph.D. on Development of a method for continuous flow analysis of methane and its application to polar ice cores. His current research interests are continuous flow analysis of aerosols and greenhouse gases on ice cores, and past climate change reconstruction from natural archives, especially polar ice cores.

Bruno Wilhelm is a new PostDoc with the Quaternary Geology and Paleoclimatology group. He got a Ph.D. degree in Earth, Universe and Environmental Sciences at CNRS-University of Savoie, Le Bourget-du-Lac, France (title: Sedimentological reconstitution of hydrological extremes ). His current research is on European Alps: a millennium-long perspective (AXA postdoc fellowship). A warm welcome to all of you!

Researchers who have recently left the OCCR:

Tommy Klein who did his PhD at the Air Pollution/Climate group now works for a private company in California (Silicon Valley).

Matthias Baumgartner who finished his PhD at the Earth System Modeling - Atmosphere Ocean Dynamics group.

Simone Studer, who did her PhD at the Atmospheric Radiometry and Processes group, now works as a high school teacher.

All the best to you!