• 2014
  • Conference report

15th Swiss Global Change Day - Meeting Report

Teaser: 15th Swiss Global Change Day - Meeting Report
Image: "Surprise": Esther H. provides a welcome break between scientific highlights.
Teaser: 15th Swiss Global Change Day - Meeting Report
Teaser: 15th Swiss Global Change Day - Meeting Report (Image: "Surprise": Esther H. provides a welcome break between scientific highlights.)

On 2nd April the Swiss global change science community met for the 15th time on the annual Swiss Global Change Day. About 260 participants attended the event, which offers scientific highlights presented by distinguished researchers as well as a broad overview over current global change research in Switzerland depicted on 65 posters. Furthermore, the Swiss Global Change Day serves Swiss researchers to get and stay in contact – the programme provides enough time for discussion and networking.

Heinz Gutscher, chair of the ProClim– steering committee, welcomed the participants and speakers. Following his introduction (--> Presentation, PDF 2.5 MB), six key note speakers presented highlights and challenges in the broad field of global environmental research:

In her talk, Jennifer Francis from the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences in Rutgers, U.S., explored the relation between Arctic climate and extreme weather in Europe: Are changes in European climate extremes triggered by Arctic climate change? She showed that in the Arctic the climate is warming much faster than in the rest of the world, which affects the jet stream. Its wavelength increases and, consequently, the speed of the jet stream slows down. As a result, in Europe weather patterns seem to become more persistent, which raises the probability of more extreme weather events. (--> Presentation PowerPoint, 15.1 MB)

Markus Stoffel from the University of Geneva showed how climate change affects the risks due to rockfall and debris flow. His research focuses on the documentation of rockfall and debris flow frequency in past centuries, for which there is very few information until now. The impact of climate change is visible in periglacial environments, but not at lower elevations. Stoffel’s results show that the frequency of rock fall is clearly driven by temperature, whereas there is no clear relation between warming and the number of debris flows. The latter will not necessarily occur more frequently, but with larger magnitudes. (--> Presentation, PDF 6.7 MB)

Martin Claussen from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany, elaborated on the question whether vegetation is a global or regional player in the climate system. He calls the vegetation with its small mass and vast area the “big flyweight”. This flyweight, however, is an important player in the earth system with regard to the energy, water and carbon cycles. Consequently, vegetation can be assumed to have an effect on the climate. According to modelling results, tropical forests tend to have a cooling effect, whereas boreal forests warm the climate. However, this effect is regional rather than global. (--> Presentation, PDF 3.3 MB)

What are the benefits and costs of managing the risks of climate extremes in vulnerable countries? Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria, showed that, according to studies, investments into disaster prevention do pay off. However, disaster prevention is still mostly neglected. With climate change the benefit-cost-ratio will increase, that is, disaster prevention becomes even more beneficial. Linnerooth-Bayer concluded that global risk management for extreme climate events would support risk transfer and cost effective risk reduction, and could reduce loss and damage. (--> Presentation, PDF 4 MB)

Bernhard Truffer from EAWAG focused on industry dynamics in the energy transition, in particular on the interrelation of regional and global processes. Truffer showed the challenges with regard to the transformation of the energy sector. These are, among others: implementation barriers, resistance of users, and short-sightedness of investors. He suggests taking advantage of local ingenuity to anticipate globalization dynamics in industry formation and to think in the long run. In order to achieve the transition of the energy sector a major socio-technical transformation process is required. (--> Presentation, PDF 4.2 MB)

Reto Knutti from ETH Zurich gave an insight into the world of models and climate modelling with a particular focus on the progresses made by the latest generation of models. Improvement in modelling may be achieved by aggregation, by doing a larger number of model runs and by considering more parameters. This results in more robust projections as well as improvements in regional modelling. On the other hand, uncertainty ranges have not decreased, which is largely due to the fact that natural variability puts limits to model evaluation and uncertainty quantification. (--> Presentation, PDF 6 MB)

In the poster session the best posters in the fields of WCRP, IGBP and IHDP were selected by a jury and honored with a travel award of 1000 CHF each. The following posters were awarded:

WCRP (awards are sponsored by the ACP, the Commission for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, SCNAT):

IGBP (awards are sponsored by the Swiss IGBP Committee, SCNAT):
  • Marco Plebani: Protist diversity along temperature gradients: a study in a subarctic geothermal stream network (--> Contact)
  • Marina Morlock: Can water fleas (Daphnia) provide insights into lake water methane concentrations?(--> Poster, 1.2 MB)

IHDP (the award is sponsored by the SAGW):

  • Associations

Apr 2
Teaser: 15th Swiss Global Change Day on 2 April 2014
  • ProClim
  • Symposium
  • Bern

15th Swiss Global Change Day

As in previous years the Swiss Global Change Day is the platform where the Science Community of all disciplines meets and interacts. Key note speakers encompass topics of the physical climate system, the biochemical and geochemical processes and impacts, biodiversity and the human dimensions of global change. Registration Deadline: 27 March 2014.