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 concentrate mainly on ‘young’ geological times ranging from historical millennial scales of the last glacial-interglacial cycle (the last 140,000 years) and highest time resolution.
Particular emphases of our work are on (1) abrupt climate changes, their timing, causes and reflection in proxy data and (2) 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)
- Effects of changing solar activity on climate
- Seasonal effects of climate change
- Decadal-scale climate variability in a warmer world
Approaches and methods of our research are:
- Precise Dating (varve chronology, tephrochronology, dendrochronology)
- Scale-independent approach
- Multi-archive and multi-parameter approach
- Integration of field, analytical and model data
- Integration of long-time monitoring and proxy time series (physical, chemical and biological parameter 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, and (III) geophysical methods to decipher the climate of the past.
A main focus is on precise dating and synchronisation of geo-archives with a good seasonal resolution, identification and development of seasonal climate proxies and finally a robust reconstruction of past climate variability.
In order to bridge the often different time-scales of proxy data from sediment records and instrumental climate data we apply lake and tree archives with proxies of highest, at least seasonal proxies.
Applying a unique multi-archive and multi-proxy approach we aim at a better understanding of mechanisms of climate change that can be used for model validation.
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.