September 2021

General News 





General News

The political economy of meat system transformation

The Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group has received a new SNIS grant (Swiss Network for International Studies) for a project entitled "The political economy of meat system transformation". The main objective of the project (PI Lukas Fesenfeld) is to investigate the socio-technical conditions, policy narratives, and feedback dynamics that stabilize or destabilize the current regime of meat production and consumption in the world's top three meat suppliers and demanders - China, the EU, and the US. The research team is international and interdisciplinary (e.g., OCCR, ETH Zurich, Princeton University, University of Bath, Exeter University, Cardiff University, Fudan University, NAHhaft Institute, University of Groningen). The team uses a comparative research design and mixed-method approaches from political economy, computational social science, environmental psychology, institutional sociology, and transition studies. The project also builds on transdisciplinary cooperation between various scientific disciplines and decision-makers from international (e.g., FAO, OECD) and non-governmental organizations (e.g., SYSTEMIQ/FOLU coalition, Heinrich Böll Foundation, WWF).

Project “Drilling Overdeepened Alpine Valleys" has started

Project “Drilling Overdeepened Alpine Valleys" has started
Drill rig in the forest of Basadingen-Schlattingen (left). PhD student Sebastian Schaller holding a one-meter long drill core (right)

The OCCR group Quaternary Geology and Paleoclimatology has started with the drilling operations of the "Drilling Overdeepened Alpine Valleys" (DOVE) project funded by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program ICDP and others partners. Using boreholes and geophysical methods, the DOVE project will explore the sediments infilled into glacially overdeepened valleys all around the European Alps.

The sediments of overdeepened glacial troughs contain invaluable but least explored terrestrial sedimentary archives of glacial-interglacial cycles of the Mid-to-Late Quaternary. They provide an excellent direct record of the repeated extensive glaciations in the European Alps during the last ca. 800’000 years. The planned boreholes are located along W-E and N-S transects to understand the topographic and paleoclimatic controls of glaciations on a glacial and interglacial time-scale. The current drill sites are located in the W and NE margin of the Rhine Glacier in Switzerland and Southern Germany and will be complemented with further drill cores from Isar-Loisach, Salzach, and Traun glacial catchments. The Basadingen drill site, drilled currently, is the first ICDP drill site on Swiss territory and is targeted to reach the bedrock below the glacial trough in ~240 m depth.

The first farmers of Europe

The first farmers of Europe
Lin 3, Lake Ohrid, Albania. Excavation situation in summer 2021.

A publication by the OCCR (Prehistory Archeology group) in the Journal of Archaeological Science was the subject of a recent media release by the University of Bern. The announcement is entitled “The first farmers of Europe” and reads: “A research team from the University of Bern has managed to precisely date pile dwellings on the banks of Lake Ohrid in the south-western Balkans for the first time: they came into being in the middle of the 5th millennium BC.

The region around the oldest lake in Europe played a key role in the proliferation of agriculture.”
Read the whole media release. See more press releases in connection with the OCCR.

OCCR members hit the news

As extreme weather events had catastrophic consequences in many parts of the world over the past summer, climate researchers were sought-after interviewees. This was also the case for OCCR members. Johnathan Buzan (Earth System Modelling - Atmospheric Dynamics group) was interviewed by BBC World News live broadcast on Tokyo Olympics and Climate Change as well as on Greece Fires and Climate Change. See recent articles referring to the OCCR.

Johnathan Buzan live on BBC World News
Johnathan Buzan live on BBC World News

Advertise yourself!

All members of the OCCR are asked to update their personal website - this also applies to PostDocs and Assistant Professors. It is important to make yourself visible. Therefore, include a short CV and a publication list on your website.


Bern Energy Economic Workshop

The first Bern Energy Economic Workshop took place on 25 and 26 August 2021. It was organized by Doina Radulescu (OCCR group Climate Economics: Energy, Technological Change and International Cooperation) and Mark Jacobsen (UC San Diego) and brought together leading national and international scholars who presented and discussed recent developments in the field of energy economics. The focus was on both theoretical and empirical research.

Integrated History and Philosophy of Climate Data

From 25 to 27 August, an international group of about 20 scientists from different disciplines met for the workshop "Integrated History and Philosophy of Climate Data". The event was co-organized by Dania Acherman (OCCR group Environmental History and Historical Climatology) and Julie Jebell (OCCR group Philosophy of science perspectives on the climate challenge). Among other things, the workshop explored the possibilities and limits of integrated history and philosophy of science for analysing the production and use of climate data.

Art and urban climatology

Art and urban climatology

Various members of the OCCR and the Graduate School of Climate Sciences were involved in the art project "Sealed Islands" in the scientific context of so called "urban heat islands". The event took place on Ansermet square in the west of Bern. Read the story in “Der Bund” (in German) about the event which included a talk about urban climatology and bike tour (“hotspots and cool spots”).

Swiss Climate Summer School 2022

In 2022, the Swiss Climate Summer School, entitled “Extreme Weather and Climate", will take place from 28 August to 2 September in Grindelwald, Switzerland. Swiss Climate Summer Schools are open to young researchers (PhD students and Postdocs) from all fields of climate research. The call will be launched in October 2021. As for the Climate Summer School 2023, it will be about the nexus of Climate, Food, and Energy. The responsible Principal Investigators of the OCCR will be Claus Beisbart (Climate ethics and philosophy of climate science group) Karin Ingold (Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group) and Ralph Winkler (Climate Economics: Energy, Technological Change and International Cooperation group).


New book by Christian Pfister and Heinz Wanner

New book by Christian Pfister and Heinz Wanner

OCCR members and professores emeriti Christian Pfister and Heinz Wanner are the authors of “Climate and Society in Europe – The Last Thousand Years”. For the first time, a historian and a climatologist with knowledge of climate history have worked closely together to create a unique book, combining climate reconstructions based on documented data in their human-historical context with temporally highly resolved analyses of climate and glaciers. The book has 400 pages  and contains 215 images. It is published by Haupt Verlag, located in Bern. The launch of “Climate and Society” took place on 2 September at the Natural History Museum in Bern. 

Read the extensive interviews (in German) with the authors in Der Bund and Die Zeit (paywall).

Martin Grosjean elected to PAGES SSC

OCCR director Martin Grosjean (Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group) is a newly elected member of the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) of the PAGES Past Global Changes project, starting in 2022. The SSC is the authority for all PAGES policies and activities. Members of the SSC are active scientists who represent the major disciplines in the paleosciences and provide geographical representation. Alongside expertise and nationalities, the SSC also aims to obtain a balance in gender and career stages.

Heli Huhtamaa receives Ambizione grant

Heli Huhtamaa (Environmental History and Historical Climatology group) has received an SNSF Ambizione grant. These grants are meant for young researchers who wish to lead an independent project at a Swiss higher education institution. Heli Huhtamaa’s project is called “Distal socio-economic impacts of big volcanic eruptions in 1500–1900 CE Switzerland and Sweden” (DEBTS). Heili investigates to which degree these volcanism-triggered climate anomalies influenced the everyday life and socio-economic prospects of the common people. The project also deals with the difficulties of attributing a societal event to climate variability, and to quantify the consequences of volcanic eruptions or other triggers for society. Hence, the outcomes of the project are expected to interest geoscientists and historians alike.

Lukas Fesenfeld receives SNIS Award

Lukas Fesenfeld (Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group) received the SNIS Award 2021 (Swiss Network for International Studies) for his dissertation with the title " The Political Feasibility of Transformative Climate Policy - Public Opinion about Transforming Food and Transport Systems". See further information here and here.

Aurea Chiaia awarded with SNSF PRIMA grant

Aurea C. Chiaia-Hernández (Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group) has been awarded the SNSF PRIMA (Professor) grant aimed at excellent women in research. Her proposed research project “TraPPP” aims to understand the transport and transformation of current-use plant protection products (PPPs) across essential compartments of the environment (at landscape scale) as well as their fate in lake sediments (i.e., from the sources to nearby or remote final sinks). The project will improve our understanding of pathways of organic contaminants from source to sink which is an indispensable foundation for informed decision-making, policy design, and the political debate.

Charlotte Laufkötter speaks at Collegium generale

Charlotte Laufkötter (Earth System Modelling – Biogeochemical Cycles group) is one of the speakers at the upcoming Collegium generale lectures series. The Collegium generale promotes interdisciplinary dialogue and networking within the University of Bern through events and seminars. Its events are aimed at audiences from all faculties and the general public. This autum the lecture series is entitled “Plastic: Magic Material and Global Burden“ (the program is in German only). Charlotte Laufkötter’s talk on 3 November 2021 is called “Eine Bouillon aus Plastik. Plastikverschmutzung im Ozean». Read a profile story on Charlotte on the OCCR Website.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

Susan Everingham is a new PostDoc with the Community ecology group. She completed her PhD at the University of New South Wales, Australia where she studied plant trait and phenological responses to climate change using historic data that were collected from stored seeds and herbarium specimens. In her new Postdoc position, funded by the OCCR, she is researching plant-insect and plant-pathogen interactions across broad geographic scales. She is a team leader in the new project BugNet, which includes multiple collaborators across the globe collecting data on insect, pathogen, and plant communities and the way the interact. The aim of the project is  to test how global change drivers, particularly climate, impact these relationships. As a part of this project, Susan has recently completed a large field campaign, where she sampled insects, plants and pathogens across Switzerland, Greece, and Romania.

Benedikt Janzen is a new PhD student with the Climate Economics: Energy, Technological Change and International Cooperation group. He did his master's degree in Economics at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. During his studies, he also stayed at Tsinghua University in China. His research interests are energy and environmental economics, public economics, and applied microeconomics.

Maiken Maier is a new PhD student with the Policy Analysis and Environmental Governance group. She has received her Master in Economics and Business at the University of Basel and will be part of the new SNIS (Swiss Network for International Studies) project "The political economy of meat system transformation", see above. Her research focuses on the intersection of environmental and food policy, especially on the political economy and psychology of meat (substitute) consumption.

Renuka Prakash Shastri is a new PhD student with the Climatology group. She studied Atmospheric Science at the Pune University in India and did a Master with a thesis entitled “Individual and combined Impact of Atlantic Nino and ENSO on Indian Summer Monsoon Rainfall”. Her current research focus is on climate extremes, urban climate, and climate modeling.

Eirini Boleti is a new PostDoc with the Mobiliar Lab and the Mobiliar Group for Climate Impact Research. Her studies started with a degree in Physics and a Master's in Computational Physics in Greece. After some years as a teacher, she did a Master's in Atmospheric and Climate Science at ETH Zurich. Her PhD, also at ETH, was focused on air pollutant concentrations and their interaction with meteorological conditions. After gaining experience as a consultant for air quality in a research institute in the Netherlands and as a natural catastrophe analyst in a reinsurance company in Zurich, she has now joined the Mobiliar Lab, where her research focus will be on hail and the derivation of vulnerability functions for car insurance losses.s.

A warm welcome to all of you!

Recent journal publications by OCCR members

See all the publications by OCCR members.