Oeschger News (April 2015)

As of this issue of the Oeschger News we welcome the master students of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences among our readers.

Closer ties between OCCR and Graduate School

The Oeschger Centre wants to better integrate the master students of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences in its activities. Students will automatically become OCCR members as soon as they are part of a research group. This is the outcome of the first general assembly of the Graduate School where all MSc und PhD students met. Further concerns voiced include the curriculum development. The students wish more seminars and discussion groups rather than lectures and would like the teaching on topics such as mitigation, adaptation, and impacts to be expanded. At the general assembly, a student council was elected. It was created in order to improve the communication between the management of the OCCR and the students of the Graduate School.
The Graduate School of Climate Sciences will be evaluated by the University of Bern’s management in 2015. The Faculty of Sciences by which the OCCR is administered has decided to reimburse examination fees of Graduate School students to the Oeschger Centre. The OCCR’s scientific committee will decide on how to make students benefit from these funds.

New research group at the OCCR

The group for Climate, Landscape and Carbon Sequestration is the latest newcomer to the Oeschger Centre. The group of Prof. Dr. Roland Zech is based at the Institute of Geography and focuses on innovative geochemical analyses to investigate past climate and environmental changes, the carbon cycle and stabilization of soil organic matter, and geomorphological processes. Leaf waxes, for example, serve as lipid biomarkers, which can be extracted from loess-paleosols and lake sediments. They provide information about past changes in vegetation. Moreover, compound-specific stable isotope and radiocarbon analyses on leaf waxes allow insights into changes in paleohydrology, and age and stability of specific organic compounds in soils and paleosols.

A warm welcome to Roland Zech and the members of his group!

Memorandum of understanding with MeteoSwiss

The OCCR has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss. The two institutions have committed themselves to cooperate in the areas of research and innovation as well as education and the promotion of young scientists. The planned cooperation should, among other goals, lead to the identification of new strategic research topics and provide the bases to develop future services.

For further information contact Christoph Raible, raible@climate.unibe.ch

Public panel discussion on the Tambora eruption in 1815

It’s been 200 years since the last major famine affected Switzerland and many other parts of Europe. The main reason was the eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia, which caused a temporary cooling of the climate. To mark this event, the Oeschger Centre has organised a public panel discussion on April 8, 2015 at 19:30 at the UniS Building. The experts will discuss whether today’s world is prepared for such a disaster.

For details see the invitation flyer (in German)


People were eating grass in eastern Switzerland during the
hunger crisis that followed the eruption of the Tambora volcano
in the “Year without a summer” in 1816.

This event is part of the International Conference on Volcanoes, Climate, and Society supported by the OCCR from 7 -10 April, 2015 in Bern.
For the conference programme see the conference website

Sam Fankhauser of the LSE talks at the OCCR

The renowned economist Sam Fankhauser from the London School of Economics and Political Science will hold a series of lectures at the OCCR on 18 and 19 May, 2015. The lectures are open to all OCCR members. Sam is Co-Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Deputy Director of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, member of the Committee on Climate Change an independent body that advises the UK government on carbon targets and he is member of the editorial board of the journal Global Environmental Change. Before joining the Grantham Research Institute, Sam served as Deputy Chief Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). He has also worked at the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and in the private sector. He has studied economics at the University of Bern, the London School of Economics and University College London.

On Monday, 18 May, 16:15, Sam will talk on “The dynamics of passing climate change legislation” as part of the Oeschger Seminar Series (Room B5, Physics Institute, Sidlerstrasse 5)

On Tuesday 19. May, 10:00, Sam’s lecture is on “How do decarbonise an economy”. This talk is within the Graduate School’s Colloquium (for venue contact Michael Riffler, michael.riffler@oeschger.unibe.ch). And over lunch he will give a talk at Department of Economics (for venue and time contact Gunter Stephan, gunter.stephan@vwi.unibe.ch)

Workshop on European Storms: Impacts and Predictability

The OCCR is the co-organizer of the 5th Workshop on 31 August – 2 September 2015 at the University of Bern. The aim of the workshop is to bring together scientists from dynamical meteorology, climatology, and impacts with stakeholders from insurance industries and engineering consultant companies to share recent research ideas. The workshop is a continuation of a series of European storm workshops (first in 2011). It is a unique opportunity to combine the strong Swiss research in this field with international research activity and the experience of insurance industries and engineering consultant companies, both strong pillows of the Swiss economy. The workshop further facilitates the cooperation between science and industry and will help in the design of end-to-end projects, i.e., from scientific understanding to implementation in practice.

Climate Impact Science with Citizens

On 1 March the Swiss citizen science website www.OpenNature.ch was launched. Led by the OCCR’s Climatology group, the website aims at building awareness for science-based climate impact knowledge, collecting scientifically sound phenology and seasonality observations and understanding environmental change. The project features climate change impacts on plants, animals, mushrooms, landscapes, and climate extremes. OpenNature.ch includes a news section presenting new scientific findings and shares the results on social media network such as Facebook (www.facebook.com/OpenNature.ch). Input from all Oeschger members are very welcoe.

Contact: This Rutishauser, rutis@giub.unibe.ch

Annegret Thieken talks at the Mobiliar Lecture 2015

Annegret Thieken, Chair of Geography and Natural Hazards Research at the University of Potsdam will hold the traditional Mobiliar Lecture on April 27, 2015 at 17:30 at the University of Bern’s main building. The title of her talk is “Damage makes you clever: Learning from incidents and adapting to new risks”. Steps of Annegret Thieken’s scientific career include the Climate Service Center of the Helmholtz-Zentrum, Geesthacht, Hamburg (deputy director) and the University of Innsbruck (professor for natural risks and risk management). In 2013, she was appointed chairperson of scientific board of the Deutsche Komitee Katastrophenvorsorge.

For details of this event see the invitation flyer (in German)

Michael Riffler leaves the OCCR Management Centre

The OCCR’s Science Officer, Michael Riffler leaves the Management Centre. Michael has accepted a new position with the company GeoVille (specialized in Remote Sensing, Earth Observation Systems and GIS) in Innsbruck, Austria. He will be leaving the OCCR MC by the end of June 2015. We would all like to congratulate Michael and thank him for his extraordinarily valuable work and enthusiasm for the OCCR and the Graduate School in the past three years. Michael, we will miss you!

New visiting researchers at the OCCR

Several OCCR groups will host guest researchers in the coming months.
Gilles Delaygue from the University of Grenoble, France will stay at the Climatology group for six months. He is on a sabbatical to work on the climatic impact of solar activity, especially looking to signal in weather regimes. (Contact: Stefan Brönnnimann, stefan.broennimann@giub.unibe.ch)

Susan Kaspari from Central Washington University, Ellensburg, USA will stay with the Analytical Chemistry Research group. Her research interest is in investigating the role black carbon plays in current and past climate change by analysing the chemical composition of snow samples and ice cores. (Contact: Margit Schwikowski, margit.schwikowski@psi.ch)

Mike Evans from the University of Maryland, USA has been invited by the Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group. His research interests are in high resolution multiproxy paleoclimatology of the late Holocene, with special emphasis on tropical processes, hydrometeorological variations, and global climate change. He is also interested in forward modelling of the processes by which environmental forcing is represented in observations collected from paleoclimatic archives. (Contact: Martin Grosjean, grosjean@oeschger.unibe.ch).

Apéro series for young OCCR scientists at the Institute of Geography

The next edition of the so-called OCCR Apéro series is hosted by the Climatology group and will take place on 24 April, 2015, 16:00 at Institute of Geography, Hallerstr. 12. The event runs under the title of “Climatology from Ground to Space”. After the scientific presentations drinks and snacks will be served. If you haven’t registered yet, please do so by sending an e-mail to meuli@oeschger.unibe.ch

Christian Rohr elected as an ISCAR delegate

Christian Rohr, PI of the OCCR’s Environmental History and Historical Climatology group was elected a delegate to the International Scientific Committee on Research on the Alps (ISCAR) by the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Water forum at the Expo Milano 2015

The OCCR’s Hydrology group organises a public event on future challenges of water management in the Alps at the Swiss pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. It takes place on 4 May, 2015 (afternoon).

For details see the invitation flyer

Romanian lakes and past climatic change

Dr. Mónika Tóth from the Balaton Limnological Institute, Tihany, Hungary, joins the Aquatic Palaoecology group until June 2015 to work on chironomid assemblages from archaeological settings and to interpret microfossil data from Lateglacial and Holocene lake sediment records from Romania. Aim of the latter project is to understand how biotic assemblages in Romanian lakes reacted to past climatic change and to provide new insights on the past temperature development in south eastern and central eastern Europe.

Contact: Oliver Heir, oliver.heiri@ips.unibe.ch

Award for young hydrology researcher

Simon Schick, a PhD student at the OCCR’s Hydrology group, got the “Nachwuchspreis Hydrologie” by the German Federal Institute of Hydrology. He was awarded this prize for outstanding publications in hydrology by young researcher for his paper “Saisonale Abflussprognosen für mittelgrosse Einzugsgebiete in der Schweiz – Möglichkeiten und Grenzen hydrologischer Persistenz". The study will soon be published in the journal Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung.

Details of Simom Schick’s research can be found on http://www.sro.giub.unibe.ch/

Special journal issue on Climate and beyond congress

In January 2013 the OCCR co-organised the congress Climate and beyond - Knowledge Production about Planet Earth and the Global Environment as Indicators of Social Change. Now, the proceedings of this conference have been published in a special edition of the journal Historical Social Research.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

  Ishaq Ahmad Mian is a new scientific staff member in the Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group. He is an assistant professor at the University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Inida and has been selected for Switzerland Government Excellence PostDoc Scholarship (ESKAS). His research interests are in Biogeochemical carbon and nitrogen cycling, Phosphorous towards food security, soil and water erosion, climate change and sustainable agriculture. His current research project is on A comprehensive assessment of the biodiversity-N cycle relationship in grass-lands with the help of 15N tracer experiments in Jena.
  Sandra Brügger is a new a PhD student in the Terrestrial Paleoecology group. She did her MSc at the University of Bern’s Institute of Geography. Her research interests are in fire and vegetation history, paleoecology, palynology, climate change and ice cores. Her PhD thesis is part oft the Sinergia project Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores.
  Olivier Cartapanis is a new PostDoc in the Paleoceanography and marine biogeochemistry group. He did a MSc in Environmental Sciences and gained a PhD in Environmental Geosciences at Aix Marseille University, France. He then worked on a PostDoc position at McGill University, Canada. His research interests are in Paleoceanography, Paleoclimatology, Marine Chemistry, Marine Carbon Cycle and Ocean Oxygenation.

Christoph Dätwyler is a new a PhD student in the Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group. He did his MSc at the Department of Mathematics at the ETH Zurich. His PhD thesis is part oft the Ambizione project Detection of human and natural influences on the climate system: regional insights from the past Millennium.

  Ezequiel Garcia Morabito is a new PostDoc in the Climate, Landscape and Carbon Sequestration group. He did his PhD in Geology at the Laboratory of Andean Tectonics at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina on Tectonics and structure of the andean retro-arc area between 38.15’ and 40.00’S. He now works in a SNFS project called Late Quaternary glacier and climate reconstruction in southern Siberia using 10Be surface exposure dating Tectonics in active convergence zones. His research interests are in Structural Geology, Neotectonics, Tectonic Geomorphology and Cosmogenic nuclides.
  Alexandra Gavilano is a new a PhD student in the Environmental Policy Analysis group. She did her MSc in Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich on the consequences of illegal gold mining in Peru. Her research interests are in Climate Change, Mitigation /Adaptation, Political Instruments for Climate Change Adaptation, Raw Material Removal, World Market, Divestment of the Fossil Sector, Environmental Education, Sustainable Lifestyle, Permaculture and Agroforestry. Her PhD thesis is part oft the Sinergia project Climate change extremes and adaptation strategies considering uncertainty and federalism (CCAdapt)
  Sina Lenggenhager is a new a PhD student in the Mobiliar Group for Climate Change Impact Research group. She did her MSc OCCR’s Graduate School for Climate Sciences.
  Imke Schäfer is a new a PhD student in the Climate, Landscape and Carbon Sequestration group. She got her diploma in Geology/Palaeontology at the University of Hamburg, Germany. Her PhD project is on Leaf wax biomarkers: proxy evaluation and development.
  Carla Terrizzano is a new PostDoc in the Climate, Landscape and Carbon Sequestration group. She did her PhD in Geology at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina on Neotectonics of the Barreal – Las Peñas Belt, Precordillera Sur, Argentina. She now works on a SNSF Marie Heim-Vögtlin Postdoctoral position on Climate versus tectonic control of landscape evolution: an approach from alluvial fans in the Southern Central Andes. Her research interests are in Neotectonics, Tectonic Geomorphology, Cosmogenic nuclides and Landscape Evolution.

Helga Weber is a new a PhD student in the Climatology group. She did her MSc at the University of Bern’s Institute of Geography, working on the retrieval of lake ice phenology dates from AVHRR satellite images. She has now changed her research focus from ice to fire and works on long-term fire products retrieved from satellite data in different regions of the world. Her PhD project is part of the Sinergia project Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores.

  Lorenz Wüthrich is a new a PhD student in the Climate, Landscape and Carbon Sequestration group. He did his MSc in Geology at the ETH Zürich on Dating glacial deposits in the western Swiss lowlands using cosmogenic 10-Be. His PhD project is on Lipid biomarkers for palaeoclimate reconstruction

A warm welcome to all of you!

Researchers who have recently left the OCCR:

Rixt de Jong who was a PostDoc in the Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology group has taken a new job at Statistics Netherlands (The Hague, NL) in the group of Environmental Accounts. Rixt joined the OCCR in 2008. First she was awarded a Marie Curie FP6 Fellowship to work on winter temperature reconstructions from lake Silvaplana. Afterwards she continued with a SNF Ambizione Fellowship working on Chrysophyte stomatocysts and paleoclimatology in Chile, South America.

All the best to you!