Press Release: Summer School 2008: Observing and Understanding Earth

Twenty-eight researchers from twelve countries met from July 13 to 20, 2008 at Konstanz for the international Zukunftskolleg summer school “Observing and Understanding Earth: Making the Most of Environmental Measurements” organized by Dr. Marc von Hobe from Forschungszentrum Jülich. “Environmental problems – particularly global climate change – are an ever growing challenge to humankind. Efforts to overcome this challenge and our endeavour to build a sustainable future require a thorough understanding of our planet Earth. In Konstanz, we addressed the question how to use meteorological, physical and chemical data sets and models in the most effective way to improve our knowledge of the earth and its climate. An important aspect the summer school was bringing the different disciplines of Environmental Sciences closer together”, Marc von Hobe explains.

Various fields including Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences, Biogeosciences, Climate and Paleoclimate Sciences were represented in Konstanz. Lecture topics included measurement techniques, satellite data and computer modelling as instruments of environmental science, innovative approaches to data interpretation, as well as more general issues of data quality and data homogeneity. One of the lecturers, Prof. Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia and co-author of the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report 2007, also offered insights in the composition of the climate report. Other lecturers were: Dr. Christof Ammann (Swiss federal research station Agroscope ART in Zurich)

  • Dr. Anthony J. Kettle (School of Environmental Science, University of East Anglia)
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Schaepman (Centre for Geo-Information (CGI), Wageningen University and Research Centre, WUR)
  • PD Dr. Thomas von Clarmann (Institut für Meteorologie und Klimaforschung, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe)
  • Prof. Dr. Douglas Wallace (Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften, IFM-GEOMAR, University of Kiel)

The participants of the summer school presented results from their projects in a poster session. Out of numerous interesting and excellent contributions, the committee of lecturers awarded three “best student posters”:

  • Tanja Möbius (University of Frankfurt) addressed the question „Does the Brewer-Dobson Circulation change? Three decades of mean age of air data derived from stratospheric SF6 measurements“. She reanalyzed stratospheric air samples collected from 1975 to 2006 with balloon-borne whole-air samplers that allow quantifying the mean age of air. In contradiction to the model studies that predict an effect of changes in greenhouse gas loading on the mean meridional circulation of the middle atmosphere (the Brewer-Dobson circulation), Tanja Möbius’ results show that there was no intensification of the Brewer-Dobson circulation in the past three decades.
  • Anneke Batenburg (Utrecht University) presented a poster on „The isotopic composition of atmospheric hydrogen (H2)”. Molecular hydrogen is widely expected to be the energy carrier of the future without much knowledge about the consequences of H2 emissions into the atmosphere. Anneke Batenburg developed a Gas Chromatography – Isotope Ratio Mass Spectronmetry (GC-IRMS) measurement system that allows for the precise determination of hydrogen isotope ratios in the atmosphere. This information is very useful to better understand the processes involving molecular hydrogen on the atmosphere.
  • Anke Schneider (IFM-GEOMAR, Kiel) works on „Anthropogenic carbon (Cant) in the Mediterranean Sea“. Her calculations of anthropogenic carbon in the Mediterranean Sea fill an important gap in the global Cant inventory.
  • One of the highlights of the summer school was the one-day excursion to the Schneefernhaus Observatory on the Zugspitze. The group had the opportunity to inspect several measurement techniques discussed during the sessions at Konstanz live in action. Along the way to the Zugspitze summit, 300 meters above the Observatory, Enner Alcantara, a participant from Sao Paulo, Brasil experienced the first snowball fight in his life.

    Dr. Shailesh Patel from India summarized „The summer school was informative and interdisciplinary. I learned a lot indeed.“ Other participants agreed with this positive conclusion. The organizer Dr. Marc von Hobe was most satisfied: „We had stimulating discussions, and the enthusiasm of the participants was stunning. I think we will all take home a lot from this event!”