In Section 5.2 Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution we study natural climate variability in the past and the underlying driving factors as well as the impacts of climate change on landscapes and specifically the human habitat. We exploit climate archives with seasonal resolution from Quaternary time scales ranging from recent historical and pre-historical times to previous interglacials as examples for a world without interference by man.

Particular emphases of our work are on (1) abrupt climate changes, their timing, causes and reflection in proxy data and (2) the variability of the frequency of extreme weather events under changing climatic boundary conditions.

More specifically, we focus on following scientific questions:

  • Mechanism and impacts of abrupt climate changes
  • Extreme events and climate change
  • Impacts of climate change on Earth surface processes (erosion) and on arboreal systems
  • Effects of changing solar activity on climate
  • Seasonal effects of climate change
  • Decadal-scale climate variability in warm interglacial climates

Approaches and methods of our research are:

  • Precise Dating (varve chronology, tephrochronology, dendrochronology)
  • Scale-independent approaches
  • Multi-archive and multi-parameter approaches
  • Integration of field, analytical and model data
  • Integration of long-time monitoring and proxy time series (physical, chemical and biological parameters reflecting climate variables like temperature, precipitation and wind strength)

For this we analyse high resolution terrestrial climate archives as annual layered lake sediments (varves) and tree-rings. We design and use new, high-resolution (I) sedimentological, (II) geochemical, (III) geophysical and (IV) dendrological methods to decipher the climate of the past and its impacts on the human habitat.

The main foci are on both precise dating and synchronisation of geo-archives with a good seasonal resolution and identification and development of seasonal climate proxies, both eventually leading to a robust reconstruction of past climate variability.

Our Research in Section 5.2 Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution contributes to the Research Field Earth and Environment in the Programme Geosystem: the Changing Earth within the Helmholtz Association. Overarching goal of the Earth and Environment research field are the fundamental functions of the system earth and the interactions between societies and nature, thereby creating a sound knowledge base for securing the long-term foundations of human life. This is about understanding the complex changes of Earth and Environment in detail and to better anticipate future developments so that decision-makers in politics and society can be provided with sound scientific recommendations for management planning.


Profile photo of  Prof. Dr. Achim Brauer

Prof. Dr. Achim Brauer
Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution

Building C, room 324
14473 Potsdam
tel. +49 331 288-1330