Project

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Climate and Environmental Physics

Applicant Stocker Thomas
Number 147174
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Klima und Umweltphysik Physikalisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Other disciplines of Physics
Start/End 01.04.2013 - 31.03.2015
Approved amount 2'630'527.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Other disciplines of Physics
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (8)

stable isotopes in the environment; climate dynamics and modelling; radionuclides; greenhouse gases; polar ice cores; water cycle; paleoclimate; groundwater

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Forschung in Klima- und Umweltphysik umfasst Beobachtungen, theoretische Modellbildung, und Modellsimulationen. Mit diesen Mitteln, die in diesem kollaborativen Projekt weiterentwickelt werden, wird das Verständnis der Klimaentwicklung der vergangenen 800'000 Jahre vertieft. Damit werden Abschätzungen künftiger Klimaänderungen, verursacht durch den vom Menschen verursachten Anstieg der Treihausgaskonzentrationen, verbessert.
Lay summary
Klimaforschung ist von unmittelbarer gesellschaftlicher Bedeutung, da die Reaktionen des Erd-Systems auf die veränderte Zusammensetzung der Atmosphäre, besonders die Treibhausgase, verstanden werden müssen. Umfassende Klimaforschung ruht auf drei Pfeilern: Beobachtungen, theoretisches Verständnis durch Modellbildung, und Modellsimulationen.

In diesem kollaborativen Projekt kombinieren wir die drei Pfeiler, indem vergangene Klimaänderungen der letzten 800'000 Jahre rekonstruiert, Modelle entwickelt, und umfassende Simulationen ausgeführt werden. Im ersten Pfeiler bauen wir hoch-präzise analytische Methoden um Gaskonzentrationen, Isotopenverhältnisse und chemische Stoffe in polaren Eisbohrkernen zu messen. Von besonderem Interesse sind abrupte Klimaschwankungen, die in Messungen hoher zeitliche Auslösung gefunden werden, sowie die Abschätzung ihrer Auswirkungen und räumlichen Verteilung im Klimasystem. Daneben werden in diesem Projekt auch sehr geringe Konzentrationen natürlicher Radionuklide gemessen, um die Speicherung und Erneuerung von verschiedenen Grundwasserträgern weltweit zu quantifizieren.

Wir verwenden eine Hierarchie von Klimamodellen, die von Prozessmodellen, über Modelle reduzierter Komplexität, bis zu vollständigen Erd-System Modellen reicht. Der zweite Pfeiler der Forschung besteht aus der Entwicklung dieser Modelle und Elemente, die einzelne Klimasystemkomponenten darstellen. Schliesslich werden diese im dritten Pfeiler verwendet, um verschiedene Klimagrössen direkt zu simulieren. Mit denselben Modellen werden Auswirkungen von Klimaszenarien berechnet, um wahrscheinlichkeitsbasierte Abschätzungen globaler Veränderungen des Klimasystems zu erreichen.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.03.2013

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Comprehensive climate and environmental research carried out in this project combines observations, theoretical understanding through model development, and model simulations. With this tool box, which combines high-precision analytical methods with model simulations, both further developed in this project, we aim to improve the understanding of the climate evolution of the past 800,000 years and the estimate of the response of the Earth System to the increase of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
Lay summary

Climate research is of immediate relevance to society because we need to understand how the complex Earth System reacts to human-caused changes in the composition of the atmosphere, in particular greenhouse gases. Comprehensive climate research rests on three pillars: Observation, theoretical understanding and model development, and climate model simulations.

In a large collaborative effort we combine these three pillars by reconstructing past climate change over the last 800,000 years based on measurements in ice cores, model development, and simulations of past and future changes in the climate system. For the first pillar, we develop and apply high-precision methods to measure concentrations of gases, including their isotopic composition, and chemical substances on polar ice cores. Of particular interest are indications of abrupt climate change found in high-resolution records, their effects on the various components of the climate system, and their regional expression. In addition we measure very low environmental concentrations of some unique radio-isotopes to estimate groundwater storage and renewal in reservoirs around the world. An essential element of this project is the development of climate models including biogeochemical components which are carefully compared with and tested by, modern observations. We employ a hierarchy of climate models ranging from process models, models of reduced complexity, to comprehensive climate models. Model development and testing constitutes the second pillar of this project. The third pillar is extensive model simulations of many paleoclimatic variables and a direct comparison of the results with the paleoclimatic records. This usually involves simulation over complete ice age cycles. These same models are then used to project, in a probabilistic framework, anthropogenic climate change with the goal to learn more about the global responses and sensitivity of the climate system to this unprecedented perturbation.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 25.03.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Conseja Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas CSIC (Barcelona) Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
National Centre for Atmospheric Research (Boulder) United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Hawaii (Honolulu) United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Universität Bern, Chemisches Institut Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Venice Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Alfred Wegener Institut (Bremerhaven) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Copenhagen Denmark (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
LGGE (Grenoble) France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Universität Bern, Geographisches Institut Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
ETHZ, Institut für Atmosphärenphysik und Klima Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of Bergen Norway (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
LSCE (Saclay) France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Universität Heidelberg Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Potsdam Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (Potsdam) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Interviews Zahlreiche Medien (Internationale Presse, TV) Western Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland International 2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
125116 Klima- und Umweltphysik 01.04.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)
137635 Schweizerische Beteiligung an der Eis-Tiefbohrung in Nordwest Grönland NEEM (Teil 2) 01.01.2012 Research Infrastructure
157671 AeroTope: A novel method for mass spectrometric measurements of nitrogen isotopes in NH4+, an aerosol derived proxy to quantify nutrient cycling efficiency in the Southern Ocean 01.01.2015 R'EQUIP
170739 iceCP-TOF: ultrahigh-resolution records in ice core research using novel Inductively Coupled Plasma - Time Of Flight - Mass Spectrometry (ICP-TOF-MS) 01.01.2017 R'EQUIP
136273 CarboCount CH: Quantifying greenhouse gas fluxes and their sensitivity to climate variations: A case study in Central Europe and Switzerland 01.01.2012 Sinergia
136295 iTREE-Long-term variability of tree growth in a changing environment - identifying physiological mechanisms using stable C and O isotopes in tree rings. 01.04.2012 Sinergia
130642 Future and Past Solar Influence on the Terrestrial Climate 01.09.2010 Sinergia
125116 Klima- und Umweltphysik 01.04.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)
159563 Climate and Environmental Physics 01.04.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)
155906 NOTICE: Noble gas global mean ocean thermometry on ice cores 01.01.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)
134641 Kohlenstoffkreislauf-Forschung auf dem Jungfraujoch 01.04.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
132646 STALCLIM - Multi-proxy climatic and environmental reconstructions from stalagmites from Switzerland, Turkey, Arabia and India 01.01.2011 Sinergia
147674 STALCLIM II - Multi-proxy climatic and environmental reconstructions from stalagmites from Switzerland, Turkey, Arabia and India 01.01.2014 Sinergia

Abstract

A hierarchy of Earth System models is employed to investigate the climate system and understand past, present and future changes on time scales from decades to millions of years. The intermediate complexity models will be used to perform multi-million year simulations to test hypotheses regarding past climate change during the Mid-Pleistocene Revolution and earlier time windows such as the 40-kyr world and the times of different continental configurations. The prognostic carbon cycle in this model enables us to investigate climate transitions into and out of an ice age, and phase relations between atmospheric CO2 and temperature during the sequence of abrupt changes in the last ice age. This model will also be used for large ensemble simulations and of future climate change with a focus on climate targets under different emissions scenarios. This will yield probabilistic information on climate variables. The dynamic vegetation model including modules for nitrogen and methane, and their isotopes, will be used to better understand the emerging ice core records of these quantities. We will complete the implementation of land carbon isotopes into the a state-of-the-art Earth System Model and couple it to the ocean component. The physical part of this model will be used to investigate northern hemisphere decadal variability with a focus on precipitation in Greenland and hence assist in the interpretation of ice core records.Our contributions to the reconstruction of past climate change are primarily based on the analysis of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. Measurements of greenhouse gas concentrations will focus on two time windows: (i) the early Holocene, and (ii) the penultimate ice age. For CO2 these analyses will be performed with a novel Centrifugal Ice Microtome which has a significantly improved extraction efficiency of air from ice. The interhemispheric gradient of CH4 carries much information on the evolution of CH4 sources and sinks. The study will address the last ice age prior to 40 kyr before present. We will combine the concentration data with isotopic measurements of d13C of CO2 during the abrupt events of the last ice age in order to augment the constraints on possible mechanisms that explain the observed phase relationship between CO2 and temperature. High-resolution measurements of various chemical constituents are performed on the Greenland ice cores using our Continuous Flow Analysis (CFA) device. This will provide new insights into regional deposition patterns of precipitation in Greenland. The CFA device will be extended by novel modules measuring Fe and pH. New measurements of d15N of N2 on NEEM ice will be combined with existing data and so provide a first spatial information on abrupt temperature changes along a transect of deep ice cores in Greenland.Using our unique palette of radio-isotopes (14C, 81Kr, 85Kr, 37Ar, 39Ar) we contribute to dating of aquifers in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. Such information is crucial to determine recharge rates and is a prerequisite to establish a timescale for aquifers which are used as paleoclimatic archives. The accuracy of Ar dating is limited by underground production which will be investigated in the coming period in several aquifers. Comparative 37Ar and 39Ar measurements and detailed mineralogical analyses of the containing rock will be performed. We will also apply our extraction facility for 81Kr measurements for the dating of very old ice in Antarctica. Most of these projects are embedded in international collaborations. A new dry extraction device for air enclosed in ice samples will be completed and transitioned into routine service. It will be used as the basic device for further CO2 analyses, in particular high-resolution measurements of ice older than 130,000 years. We also continue the development of a fast access drill for ice sheet exploration and a first field test is planned for summer 2013.
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