Climate Developments in the Arctic: DFG Approves New Collaborative Research Center

A significant accolade for the areas of environmental and climate research at the University of Bremen: Researchers belonging to the Institute for Environmental Physics are to participate in a new Collaborative Research Center funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) [German Research Foundation]. The task of coordination for the Collaborative Research Center Transregio 172 “Arctic Climate Changes” (CRC/TR 172) will be undertaken by the University of Leipzig. Others taking part besides the University of Bremen are the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven and Potsdam, the University of Cologne, and the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) in Leipzig. The CRC/TR 172 will become operative in January 2016. Out off 9 million euro of the total funding for the CRC, the University of Bremen will receive 2 million euro.

Additional research locations

“The decision to grant this new Collaborative Research Center is a sign of great recognition for the areas of environmental and climate research at the University of Bremen”, says Professor Justus Notholt. He is vice-spokesman for the new research center and will participate in the CRC together with his colleague Professor John Philip Burrows. The Institute for Environmental Physics has been investigating the development of the Arctic climate for several decades. The new CRC means that research in the polar region will now be carried out at additional locations Germany.

Further develop the reliability of models

The objective pursued by the collaborative research group is to monitor climate developments in the Arctic region via different methods and over long periods. Various measurements and model calculations will be used to test and further develop the reliability of modeling for describing climate warming in the Arctic. The causes of the above-average rise in Arctic temperatures are the result of the variegated processes that influence the climate of the region which are still not fully understood.

Last summer the Arctic sea ice retreated drastically

Over the past 25 years, researchers have observed a remarkable rise in near-surface temperatures in the Arctic that is far in excess of the mean global warming in the rest of the world; namely, as much as two or three times higher. The researchers grouped in the new CRC believe this phenomenon, known as Arctic amplification, is having a dramatic impact on a number of different climate parameters. For instance, satellite observations show that the Arctic sea ice retreated drastically during the last summer. Over the past 25 years, the ice cover over the Arctic ocean decreased by more than half. It could well be that in 40 to 60 years from now the summer ice cover will have disappeared completely.

However, so far climate modeling has been unable to accurately portray this decrease. “It is vital that we identify the cause of these aberrations”, the spokesperson for the CRC, Professor Manfred Wendisch from the University of Leipzig, summarizes one of the major objectives to be pursued.  In order to improve the accuracy of these predictions, CRC/TR 172 will in future pool the scientific expertise and competences of three German universities and two non-university research institutes.

Bremen scientists research sea ice and the Arctic land surface

Altogether, the Collaborative Research Center comprises 21 sub projects. “Here at the University of Bremen we will concentrate on optical remote sensing of the Arctic based on surface and satellite measurements”, says the vice-spokesperson for the CRC, Professor Justus Notholt from the Institute for Environmental Physics. In this way the Bremen researchers expect to gain more precise information on the sea ice, the land surface, marine phytoplankton – so-called aerosols, cloud formation, and the various trace gases contained in the atmosphere. In addition to this, the AWI will carry out intensive measuring campaigns from the air and the research vessel ice-breaker “Polarstern”. These measurements will be combined at the research station in Ny-Aalesund on Spitzbergen, which is operated by the AWI, the University of Bremen, and polar researchers from France. Moreover, the research team wants to freeze the “Polarstern” research vessel belonging to the Alfred Wegener Institute in the polar ice and allow it to drift through the Arctic Ocean for a period of 14 months. That will be a first for the ice-breaker vessel that has almost 100 expeditions behind it already.

For more information on this topic, please contact:
University of Bremen
Faculty of Physics / Electrical Engineering
Institute for Environmental Physics (IUP)
Professor Justus Notholt
Phone: +49 421-218 62190
e-mail: notholtprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Forschungsschiff Polarstern im Packeis
Polarstern in der Arktis / Polarstern in the Arctic