September 2020

General News

New professorship in Climate Change Scenarios in Vulnerable Regions

The OCCR is associated to the newly founded Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern. Focusing on interactions between people, land, biodiversity, and climate change, the Wyss Academy will produce knowledge for transformation and actively build partnerships between science, policy, civil society, and the private sector to generate concrete solutions from local to global levels. To this goal, the Wyss Academy is establishing six new open-rank professorships. One of them is in “Climate Change Scenarios in Vulnerable Regions” and will be associated to the OCCR. On 27 October 2020, four applicants for this professorship will give a lecture in a public symposium. Details about time and location are to be announced

OCCR members hit the news

The work of several OCCR members was prominently featured by the media over the past months. Michael Sigl (Past volcanism and climate impact group), Christoph Raible and Woon Mi Kim (Earth System Modelling - Atmospheric Dynamics group) have found evidence in polar ice cores connecting a hitherto unexplained period of extreme cold in ancient Rome with a massive eruption of Alaska's Okmok volcano. News stories on the discovery appeared in news outlets including CNN, The New York Times, NZZ, Tagesanzeiger, Deutschlandfunk, FAZ and others.
Eri Amsler (Paleoceanography and marine biogeochemistry group) was profiled by Berner Zeitung as part of a series called “My job”.

OCCR members hit the news

Karin Ingold (Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group) was extensively interviewed by the Swiss radio news program Echo der Zeit.
And Doina Radulescu (Climate Economics: Energy, Technological Change and International Cooperation group) has published a comment in Der Bund on the amendments of the energy law and the implications for achieving the 1.5° target.

See all these and many more appearances of OCCR members in the media in the Press Coverage section of the OCCR website.

OCCR Review 2021: Working Group to be established

In 2021, the Oeschger Centre will prepare a review Report (self-evaluation) in the process of renewing its mandate by the University of Bern for the period 2022 – 2026. This report will review the achievements of the past four years and propose potential new avenues for further development of the OCCR research portfolio. For this purpose, a working group will be established which will be composed of all the OCCR Research Group leaders and of representatives of PostDocs, PhD and MSc students at the OCCR. The main task of this group is to conduct a SWOT analysis on matters of research, education and governance. Moreover, the group will establish 3-5 topics or priority areas for the future of the OCCR. The working group will meet on 27 January 2021 for a one-day retreat.
Save the date:

OCCR Retreat 27 January 2021

  • All OCCR Research Group leaders
  • Working group with representatives of Postdocs, PhD and MSc Students

Sinergia project Radiocarbon Inventories of Switzerland approved

The SNSF has approved a Sinergia project called Radiocarbon Inventories of Switzerland (RICH) including Sönke Szidat (Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA)) as one of the Principal Investigators. RICH is a first-of-its-kind project at a national level to use radiocarbon for constraining carbon cycle processes. It interweaves radiocarbon measurements of major carbon pools - the atmosphere and terrestrial biosphere (PI: S. Szidat, University of Bern), the pedosphere (PI: F. Hagedorn, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, WSL), and the aquatic continuum (PI: T. Eglinton, ETH Zürich), with modeling activities (PI: H. Graven, Imperial College London, ICL) - to shed new light on the mechanisms and dynamics of regional-scale exchange between carbon reservoirs. The project will start in October 2020 and has budget of 3 Mio CHF. Besides Sönke Szidat, RICH involves OCCR members Markus Leuenberger (Environmental Isotopes and Gases group) and Franziska Lechleitner (Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA)).

Electric Vehicles and Electricity Demand

Doina Radulescu (Climate Economics: Energy, Technological Change and International Cooperation group) will start a new project entitled “Household Preferences for Electric Vehicles and Renewable Energy and the Effect of These Technologies on Electricity Demand”. The SNSF has approved funding of 211'799 CHF.

Training program for young researchers working on climate change in Antarctica

The OCCR is part of the European project DEEPICE (Research and training network on understanding Deep icE corE Proxies to Infer past antarctiC climatE dynamics). Hubertus Fischer (Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores group) is the Swiss PI of the project. It aims to train a new generation of European researchers working on scientific issues related to climate change in Antarctica. DEEPICE takes advantage of the unique scientific dynamic of the new European ice drilling project "Beyond EPICA" which started in 2019 to extract a 1.5 million years old Antarctic ice core. DEEPICE will set up an innovative training program allowing the trained to acquire essential core and additional skills in instrumentation, ice core analysis, statistics and modelling, as well as a wide range of soft skills fostering their career perspectives. Especially, a thematic school will allow students to get in touch with different scientific mediators, publishers, journalists and political advisers.

Networks in Swiss and German Climate Mitigation Policy

The OCCR group Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance has started a new SNSF funded project called “Same, same but different? Multiplex networks in Swiss and German Climate Mitigation Policy”. The project description reads: “When formulating and implementing climate policy, the responsible decision-makers necessarily coordinate with a wide range of stakeholders. These can be administrative entities from different sectors, political parties, interest groups, civil society organization, or science institutions. These actors participate in formal political events, informal meetings, express their opinions publicly in the press, or actively launch political initiatives to advocate their interests and to coordinate their activities with likeminded alters. In this project, we aim to disentangle this complexity, by identifying the stakeholders, analyzing their beliefs and interests, and studying factors that influence their coordination behavior at the different arenas of policymaking. (…) This should then finally translate in effective and efficient solutions to tackle the climate change dilemma.” The project is part of the Compon Project.

Pilot project for Large Eddy Simulation

The scientific committee of the OCCR has accepted a proposal for a pilot project for Large Eddy Simulation (LSE). In simple terms, LSE is a weather model which allows the simulation of circulation on a small scale (the bottom of mountain valleys, urban canyons etc.). At the OCCR, this new tool – based on a PALM model – might be used in the fields of Urban Climatology, Climate and Human Health as well as Climate Risks, Extreme Events and other Climate Impacts. The pilot project will show the feasibility and substantiate potential fields of application of LSE.

OCCR hosts Girls on Ice program

girls on ice

The OCCR is the new partner of Girls on Ice Switzerland. This organization was founded in 2016 to promote access to science, art and nature through tuition-free glacier expeditions, and peer-to-peer science communication at schools. With expeditions, which are led by professional female scientists and a female mountain guide, Girls on Ice provides an environment that fosters the critical thinking necessary to all scientific inquiry.

Exposure to the wilderness and being part of a single gender team inspires young women’s interest in science and provides a challenging environment that increases their physical and intellectual self-confidence. Between 2017 and 2020, the program was funded by a SNF Agora grant called “Girls on Ice: Using Immersion to Inspire Interest in Science”, hosted by OCCR member Margit Schwikowski (Analytical Chemistry Research group).

COST Action on models for climate impact attribution across sectors

Andreas Zischg (Mobiliar Group for Climate Impact Research) is part of a newly approved COST Action. COST Action is a network dedicated to scientific collaboration, complementing national research funds. CA19139 is called “Process-based models for climate impact attribution across sectors” and aims to develop common protocols, harmonized datasets and a joint understanding of how to conduct cross-sectoral, multi-model climate impact studies at regional and global scales. This allows for attribution of impacts of recent climatic changes and robust projections of future climate impacts.

COST Action “European network for Mediterranean cyclones in weather and climate”

Olivia Romppainen (Mobiliar Group for Climate Impact Research) and Christoph Raible (Earth System Modelling - Atmospheric Dynamics group) participate in the newly approved COST Action 19109 “European network for Mediterranean cyclones in weather and climate”. This Action will coordinate the activities of researchers in meteorology and climatology and scientists from weather and climate services. The aim is to provide a deeper understanding of Mediterranean cyclones and to improve the European capacity to predict their environmental and climate impacts. In this context, the network will involve relevant stakeholders with different backgrounds (e.g. civil protection, re-insurance companies) and co-develop cyclone prediction products tailored to their needs.

Change of personnel at the OCCR management center

Ursula Widmer

Ursula Widmer is a new member of the OCCR’s management center. She is part of the administration team and replaces Jessica Ochsenbein who had joined the OCCR in 2018 and now moves on to the private sector. Welcome, Ursula, and all the best, Jessica!


Successful workshop on impacts of large volcanic eruptions

The OCCR was part of the workshop “Impacts of large volcanic eruptions on climate and societies: proxies, models and solutions for the future” which took place from 11 – 15 August 2020 in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. The 4-day event was jointly organized by the University of Geneva, Switzerland, Institut Pierre et Simon Laplace (IPSL), France, the University of Oslo, Norway and the OCCR. The workshop was attended - predominantly remotely - by 40 participants who summarized and discussed ongoing efforts to assess, quantify and project the influence of volcanic eruptions on climate and human societies.
The workshop program and additional information can be found at

Online Conference ‚Adventure of Science: Women and glacier in Central Asia‘

Adventure of Science program

Helga Weber (Climatology group) was part of the team that organized an online conference by The Adventure of Science - Women and glaciers in Central Asia, in co-operation with the UNESCO Almaty cluster office. The goal of the conference was to wrap up this years' Adventure of Science program. The event saw some 100 registered participants and over 900 followers on a Facebook livestream.

The conference included a summary of the Adventure of Science at home program by participants as well as international female speakers. Among them, OCCR member Margit Schwikowski (Analytical Chemistry Research group) gave insights into her research domains. The speakers addressed topics ranging from gender equality to climate change, environmental protection and citizen science. The great success of the event highlights the potentials and the impact of online conferences.

Swiss Climate Summer School 2021

In 2021, the Swiss Climate Summer School entitled “Vegetation, Land surface and Climate Interactions" will take place from 29 August to 3 September in Ticino, Southern Switzerland. Swiss Climate Summer Schools are open to young researchers (PhD and Postdoc) from all fields of climate research. The call will be launched in October 2020.

Plenary meeting on 18 February 2021

The next OCCR Plenary Meeting Spring 2021 will take place on 18 February 2021, 14 – 17 h. Save the date! Details on time and location are to be announced.


Ana Vicedo becomes IPCC AR6 contributing author

Ana Maria Vicedo-Cabrera (Climate Change and health group) has been invited as contributing author of the in Working Group II in the Chapter 16 on “Key Risks across sectors and regions” of the upcoming 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC. She will contribute on the health-related key risks, and in particular on heat-related mortality.

Margit Schwikowski elected to the OCCR’s scientific committee

Margit Schwikowski (Analytical Chemistry Research group) has been elected to the scientific committee of the OCCR. Together with the president and the director, the scientific committee is the strategic governing body of the Oeschger Centre and represents the participating faculties and institutes. The committee counts nine members.

Sam Jaccard elected associate professor at the University of Lausanne

Sam Jaccard (Paleoceanography and marine biogeochemistry group) was elected associate professor for marine geology and biogeochemistry at the University of Lausanne as of 1 August 2020. He will remain attached to the OCCR as an adjunct researcher.

Hendrik Vogel leads an international drilling team

The International Continental Scientific Drilling Program recently awarded funding in the amount of 1.5 M USD towards realizing scientific drilling at Lake Nam Co on the Tibetan Plateau. Hendrik Vogel (Quaternary Geology and Paleoclimatology group) is part of the PI team leading the multidisciplinary project which comprises more than 60 scientists from 16 countries. The ultimate goal of the Nam Co endeavour is to recover a sedimentary record that spans the past 1 Myr continuously to inform on past changes in rainfall amount and sourcing on the Plateau. A better understanding of the response of rainfall patterns to different boundary conditions on the Tibetan Plateau is important given its role as ‘water tower’ for over 2 billion people in East and Central Asia. Drilling at this challenging high altitude (4’700 m asl) site is scheduled to take place in 2022 pending on successful drilling and research matching funds applications.

Gunter Stober has completed his habilitation

Gunter Stober (Atmospheric Processes and Radiometry group) has successfully completed his habilitation. He will now lead his own research group called Atmospheric Dynamics and Meteor Physics.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

Jack Baker is a new PhD with the Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group.  He did a Master in Climate Sciences with Special Qualification in Social Sciences at the University of Bern. His PhD project starts in January 2021 and will evolve around the topic “What international negotiators promise and domestic policymakers adopt: Policy and politics in the multi-level climate change regime”.

Christoph Dätwyler is a new PostDoc with the Atmospheric Processes and Radiometry group. He will work on a project funded by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) which is about rain rate estimation using ground-based microwave radiometers. Christoph studied Mathematics at ETH Zurich before moving to the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern where he wrote a PhD thesis focused on studying variability and teleconnections of large-scale modes of climate variability over the past millennium. Thereafter he worked as a PostDoc within the School of Earth and Sustainability at Northern Arizona University in United States and the Paleolimnology research group at University of Bern.

Lukas Fesenfeld is a new PostDoc with the Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group. He did a PhD at ETH Zurich (Chair of International Political Economy and Environmental Politics) and has worked as a PostDoc at the Energy Politics Group of ETH. He holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the Hertie School of Governance (Berlin) with a focus on Political Economy and Policy Analysis.

Benedikt Janzen is a new PhD with the Climate Economics: Energy, Technological Change and International Cooperation group. He holds a Master in Economics from Vienna University of Economics and Business. His research interests are in Energy and Environmental Economics, as well as in Applied Econometrics..

Jérôme Kopp is a new PhD with the Mobiliar Group for Climate Impact Research he did a Master in Physics at EPFL Lausanne and is about to finish his Master in Climate Sciences at the University of Bern. His research interests are in temporal clustering of heavy precipitation, atmospheric dynamics, data analysis, and hail nowcasting.

Andrej Maczkowski is a new PhD with the Prehistory Archeology group. He did a Master in Quaternary and Prehistory at the University of Ferrara, Italy with a thesis entitled “New data from the Balkans: assessment of the post-depositional modifications and the technological variability of the lithic industries of Uzun Mera, Republic of Macedonia”. The working title of his PhD thesis is: “Dendroarchaeology of the prehistoric pile-dwellings in the Southwestern Balkans”.

Wenyue Wang is a new PhD with the Atmospheric Processes and Radiometry group. She did a Master in Cartography and Geographic Information Engineering at the China University of Mining and Technology with a thesis entitled "Ionospheric tomography method via image reconstruction based on hybrid grids". Her current research focus is on the rain rate retrieval of ground-based microwave radiometers and the time series analysis of rain rate at Bern.

A warm welcome to all of you!

Recent journal publications by OCCR members

See all the publications by OCCR members.