Research School Profile

The Research School will comprise more than 20 professors, senior scientists, and non-faculty postdoctoral researchers. Scientific research in the state of Bremen has an outstanding record of close cooperation between universities and non-university institutes. Emphasis is placed on the development and application of methods suitable for interdisciplinary Earth System Science.

The ESSRES scientific research programme comprises four themes governing the fields of

    Climate System,

    Biogeosciences and Ecosystems,

    Geoinformation Science and

    Computational Modelling,and

    Remote Sensing and Atmosphere.

Climate System

Studies in the Climate System focus on the coupled lithosphere-ocean-ice-atmosphere system and its importance for the world climate. Long-term tectonic changes have shaped the morphology of ocean basins, their margins and the continents and provide the geometric basis for ocean and atmospheric circulation during various climate stages. Detailed reconstructions of palaeobathymetry at significant geological epochs will improve constraints on simulations of past regional and global ocean circulation. Ocean and atmosphere dynamics provide the stage on which feedbacks with the biosphere take place and define past and future climate evolution. AWI researchers conduct surveys and numerical simulations related to ocean circulation, transport of material and energy in the polar seas and the polar atmosphere, and to the influence of these processes on the global climate system. An important focus is placed on climate modelling and the statistical analysis of palaeoclimate data derived from marine sediments and polar ice cores, which provide a wealth of data on past ocean temperature changes, atmospheric circulation, and effects on biogeochemical cycles.

Biogeosciences and Ecosystems

The section Marine Biogeosciences at AWI has a long track-record of working on global change issues at the level of the organism, the ecosystem and biogeochemical cycles. These different spatial and temporal scales are investigated by combining an experimental approach with numerical modelling and field verification. AWI scientists analyse marine and lacustrine sediment cores and ice cores and use a wide variety of measurements to reconstruct palaeoclimate conditions on different time scales. Palaeoclimate data allow us to look at potential forcing mechanisms prior to the era of anthropogenic forcing and have revealed a relatively clear picture of natural climate variability over the past 5 million years, including the most recent geologic analogy of our expected future climate, the Pliocene thermal maximum with its quasi-ice-free northern hemisphere. Marine ecosystem research is a core competence of the AWI. Several sections, including the Marine Animal Ecology section, participate in national and international programmes that target coastal, shelf, open-ocean and deep-sea ecosystems in polar and temperate regions. AWI scientists explore functional principles at different hierarchical system levels, covering cells, organisms, populations, communities and whole ecosystems. We aim for a “cause and effect” understanding of biological/ecological function and its relation to extrinsic and intrinsic forcing factors.

Geoinformation Science and Computational Modelling

Geoinformation science is an applied science that aims at successfully combining geosciences and information science. The development of methodologies and strategies to deal with data, and the exploration and exploitation of intrinsic links and inter-connections between datasets in order to better understand processes and key controls, are part of the science of geoinformation science. A component of geoinformation science is applied and involves using geo-spatial tools, or the efficient use of algorithms, to visualise and display data. Since data and modelling are a key component of this proposed Research School, it is envisaged that geoinformation science and computational modelling will play an important role. Numerical simulations in the context of the climate system require advanced ocean modelling techniques. AWI scientists are developing the Finite-Element Ocean circulation Model (FEOM) that can work with complex geometries and simultaneously provide nesting of fine grids within a coarse one. Analysis of measurements can be performed by combining data with dynamical modelling through data assimilation and inverse modelling.

Remote Sensing and Atmosphere

Global measurements of key constituents (trace gases, aerosols and clouds) within the atmosphere and parameters at the surface, coupled with global models of the physical, chemical and biological processes are required to improve our understanding of the Earth system and provide accurate prediction of its future changes. In this context, the development of remote sensing techniques in the last three decades represents a significant technological advance. Scientists in Bremen have been leading the European contribution to this evolving and developing research area. Many of the first global measurements of trace gases and constituents have resulted from research initiated in Bremen. Quantification of the chemistry and climate interactions that determine the magnitude of global climate change requires data on atmospheric constituents and surface properties gathered using remote sensing techniques. The proposed Research School addresses selected topics of atmospheric remote sensing.  

A particular focus of activity is the determination of ice surface properties e.g. ice concentration, ice drift formation and proxies for ice thickness, which is an important goal of the remote sensing effort in Bremen. These products will be used to investigate the variability of Artic and Antarctic sea ice volume over the whole area of available satellite data since 1992. Results of the interannual variability of Antarctic sea ice drift and thickness, and its causes, will be obtained by combining remotely sensed sea ice information with the results of a coupled sea ice-ocean model and data from numerical reanalysis projects.