The current and future climate development is subject to significant change due to the increasing human influence on the climate system. The polar regions are especially affected by this change. The extent and the rate of this change are controversial, however. An improved assessment requires precise knowledge of the natural climate fluctuations, i.e. of periods in which human influence did not play a role. Hence, the major research activities of our section are focussed on reconstructing and understanding the mechanisms and impacts of past global environmental variability related to natural driving forces of climate change. We achieve this by interpreting climate signatures preserved in marine sediment records.