Oeschger News (August 2012)

Cooperation in research and education goes on

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the OCCR, C2SM, MeteoSwiss, and ProClim in July. The Memorandum is about the cooperation of these institutions in research and education in the post-NCCR Climate period. This includes the organization of the Summer Schools and the Young Researchers Meetings.

The NCCR Climate crosses the finish line

After eleven years of existence the NCCR Climate comes to its end. Although the last research projects will only be completed by spring 2013 we want to highlight the achievements of the programme this autumn with a one-day public event. We invite the climate research community and the general public to a festive event called Finish Line - all OCCR members are kindly invited to attend! This conference to mark the end of the NCCR Climate takes place on Friday, 12 October 2012 from 8.30 to 17.00 at the University of Bern. The venue is the UniS building, Schanzeneckstr. 1, 3012 Bern. Speakers include NCCR Climate researchers and members of the NCCR Climate Review Panel.

Successful modeling workshop on Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles

Research teams from the University of Sidney, London, Exeter, Utrecht, and Bern gathered in May 2012 in Bern to advance the development of the Land-surface Processes and eXchanges (LPX) Dynamic Global Vegetation Model. The workshop was organized by Renato Spahni and Fortunat Joos from the group Earth System Modeling - Bio-Geo-Chemical Cycles. A key focus of the 16 participants is to represent interactions of the land biosphere with the physical climate system and the whole Earth System under past, present, and future conditions in a consistent and comprehensive model framework. The current version of LPX simulates plant growth, vegetation distribution as well as fluxes of carbon, nitrogen, water, and isotopes under changing environmental conditions. Uptake and release of the important greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide is dynamically simulated under varying climate, nitrogen deposition, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and anthropogenic land use and management. The model distinguishes different land classes such as natural vegetation, secondary forests, cropland, pasture, built-up area, peatland and simulates permafrost dynamics. Planned advances include among others the improvement of the simulation of fires, of the nitrogen cycle, implementation of water isotopes, wetland dynamics, and emission of volatile organic carbon compounds and the development of appropriate benchmarks. The code is advanced by research teams around the globe and the Bern team coordinates the technical development of the model and hosts the model code on their subversion system. Current scientific applications include the quantification of CO2, CH4, and N2O emissions from the land biosphere under the new IPCC emissions scenarios, during the last millennium and during Dansgaard-Oeschger-type, abrupt climate events.

Climate and beyond - a conference on knowledge production

Between 23 and 25 January 2013 a conference of historians, co-organized by the OCCR, takes place in Bern. Its theme is Knowledge production about planet earth and the global environment as indicators of social change. The conference brings together historians of the earth sciences and environmental historians. It aims to explore the social, cultural and political changes induced by earth scientists and the knowledge and institutions they have created over the last two centuries.

Discussions on the role of IGBP's global change science

The Scientific Committee of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) will gather in Bern from 15 to 19 April 2013 for their annual meeting. Approximately 50 representatives of IGBP, its core projects (including PAGES), and associated global change organizations (e.g., WCRP, IHDP, Diversitas, ICSU, GEO) are expected. The centre of discussions will be on the role of IGBP's global change science in the new Future Earth framework for the coordination of global change science. Committee members will also participate in the Swiss Global Change Day on 16 April and meet with SNSF and other Swiss high-level global change players. Co-organizers are PAGES, OCCR, and ProClim.

The OCCR is part of the Indian Science Express

The Science Express is a mobile exhibition mounted on a 16-coach train, travelling across India during 7 months. It is a major initiative by the Indian Department of Science and Technology, aimed at creating awareness especially among students on issues as scientific research, biodiversity, and climate change. This year, the Swiss Embassy in Dehli and Nestlé have joined forces and installed an exhibition in one of the coaches. On invitation of the Swiss Embassy the OCCR has contributed a section on its research activities, namely the analysis of ice cores to establish the climate of the past.

Tag der Hydrologie 2013 to take place in Bern

From 4 to 6 April 2013 the Tag der Hydrologie 2013 will take place in Bern in the context of the UN's International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013. This conference, co-sponsored by the OCCR, is an annual meeting for hydrologists (and related scientists) from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Long-term variability of tree growth in a changing environment

A Sinergia project in which several OCCR researchers are involved has successfully started this spring. iTREE (Long-term variability of tree growth in a changing environment - identifying physiological mechanisms using stable C and O isotopes in tree rings) will contribute to advanced quantifications of long-term variation in tree growth across Central Europe, it will provide novel long-term information on key physiological processes that underlie variations in tree growth, and it will lead to improved carbon cycle models that can be employed to revise predictions of the coupled carbon-cycle climate system. OCCR teams involved are Joos/Leuenberger (Bern) and Frank/ Treydte (WSL) together with non-OCCR collaborators from the lead institution PSI (Siegwolf/Saurer) and ETHZ (Buchman/Kahmen).

MontanAqua fieldwork campaign

The OCCR Hydrology group has successfully conducted a fieldwork campaign on the Plaine-Morte glacier. This second tracer experiment is part of the SNFS funded project MontanAqua. The aim of the spectacular experiment is to establish whether the melting water of the glacier runs off to the Bernese Oberland or the Valais. The experiment was highlighted in different news reports.

Climate Change and Hydrology in Switzerland

On 8 June 2012 the final event of the research project Klimaänderung und Hydrologie in der Schweiz (CCHydro), in which the OCCR's group for Hydrology plaid an important role, took place in Bern. The report on climate change and its consequences for the hydrology in Switzerland was commissioned and lead by the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN.

Stefan Brönnimann talks about researchers everyday life

In an extensive interview with the daily paper Berner Zeitung, Stefan Brönnimann from the OCCR's Climatology group raises a multitude of topics from extreme events, to the enormous task of digitalizing past climate records and the fine line between scientific knowledge and remaining uncertainties. To read the interview in full length, have a look at the press coverage section of the OCCR's webpage.

Swiss Academy of Sciences congress on research in extreme conditions

The annual congress of the Swiss Academy of Sciences will take place on 25 - 26 October 2012 in Interlaken. The two day event covers high altitude and polar research from the pioneering days of Alfred de Quervain to today?s projects at the high altitude research station Jungfraujoch. Among the speakers are several OCCR researchers.

Activities of the IAP and the OCCR complemented in a PhD thesis

The Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) of University of Bern is funding the PhD thesis of Elisavet Proedrou who started to investigate Planetary ozone layers at the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) in July, 2012. Her research complements activities of the IAP and the OCCR in observing and modeling of the Earth's ozone layer. An international team on Characterizing diurnal variations of ozone for improving ozone trend estimates was approved by the International Space Science Institute. The team is coordinated by Klemens Hocke of the OCCR's group for Atmospheric Radiometry and Processes at the Institute of Applied Physics.

Innovative technology for lake sediment analysis CORDIS

The European Commission's information service for Research & Development publishes in its magazine Market Place exploitable technologies resulting from EU research projects. The Issue of 19 June 2012 features scanning spectral reflectance (VIS-RS 370-730 nm) imaging of lake sediments as applied by Krystyna Saunders of the OCCR's group for Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology in her EU Marie Curie Project about climate changes in Tasmania for the past 2000 years.

Validating and Integrating Downscaling Methods for Climate Change Research

Ole Rössler from the OCCR?s Hydrology Group was made an official member of the European COST Action VALUE (2012-2015). This project will provide a European network to validate and develop downscaling methods and improve the collaboration between the dispersed research communities and with stakeholders. The Action will systematically compare the different downscaling approaches and assess the aspects listed above. VALUE will deliver an assessment of end-user needs, a benchmark data set and pseudo reality for the validation, a set of validation measures, the validation of state-of-the-art methods, and guidelines for stakeholders. It will guide the development of improved regional climate change scenarios for Europe and thereby be relevant for European societies and politics.

Workshop on Soil and Sedimentary Organic Matter

On 7 - 11 October 2012 the 5th International Workshop on Soil and Sedimentary Organic Matter Stabilization and Destabilization with the title Unifying concepts of organic matter dynamics in terrestrial and aquatic systems will take place at Monte Verità, Ascona. Lead themes are: Organic matter (OM) mineral interactions, Application of advanced methods for integrated perspectives on OM, OM dynamics and global change, OM from soil to ocean ? unifying OM budgets and process understanding. The workshop stems from a bottom-up approach of scientists trying to identify the mechanisms of stabilization and destabilization of organic matter in soil and sediments.

Bretscher Fonds funds PhD project on past wind storms

In the framework of a PhD project funded by the Bretscher Fonds, Peter Stucki will analyse windstorms in Switzerland during the past 140 years. The goals of the project are to compile a catalogue of past wind storms events in Switzerland, to analyse each storm using the newly available Twentieth Century Reanalysis data set together with historical observations, and to explore relations between wind storm occurrence and synoptic weather types (including trends). Dynamical downscaling (in collaboration with Meteotest) will allow spatio-temporally detailed studies of the development of the storms, information that can be used for impact modeling and that will contribute towards the CH2014 Climate Impacts initiative.

Researchers who have recently joined the OCCR:

Sonja Keel is a new PostDoc at Climate and Environmental Physics in the group Earth System Modelling-Biogeochemical Cycles. She holds a PhD in plant ecophysiology from the University of Basel. Sonja will work on the modeling and the analysis of carbon and water isotopes within the framework of the Sinergia Project iTREE. The goal is to learn about fluxes of carbon and water and to understand changes in the carbon sink and isotopic exchange over the industrial period.

Christoph Butz (MSc Geology, University of Mainz) started his PhD in the Lake Sediments and Paleolimnology Group at the Institute of Geography. His PhD project deals with hyperspectral imaging of lake sediments as a novel method for high-resolution climate reconstructions. A big welcome to all of you!

Researchers who have recently left the OCCR:

Matthias Bigler of the group for Past Climate and Biogeochemical Studies on Ice Cores has left his PostDoc position to become a teacher in physics and mathematics at the Gymnasium Seefeld in Thun. All the best to you!