Press release

Bayer Climate Award 2010 for Professor Peter Lemke

[25. March 2010] 

Bremerhaven, 25 March 2010. Professor Peter Lemke of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven has been awarded the 50,000 € “Bayer Climate Award 2010” by the Bayer Science & Education Foundation. He is being honoured for his groundbreaking research and pioneering contributions to the understanding of the role of sea ice in the climate system.

Werner Wenning, Chairman of the Board of Bayer AG, will present Lemke with the award at the international climate conference “Continents under climate change” organized by the Humboldt University, in Berlin on April 22, 2010.
An independent international board of experts selected the winner from 16 candidates, nominated by the presidents of major European research associations.

“I am delighted to have won the Bayer Climate Award,” said Lemke. “It is primarily a much appreciated recognition of the contributions my colleagues and I have made to climate research. On the other hand, this award also encourages me to keep at it and to continue my research so as to obtain a better understanding of the links between sea ice and climate.”
"I am proud, that with Prof. Peter Lemke, a scientist from our Institute has been awarded the Bayer Climate Award," says Prof. Dr. Karin Lochte, director of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. "Peter Lemke is renowned for his sound climate research and strong involvement in international bodies such as the IPCC. As a climate scientist, he makes important contributions that serve as a basis for political and economical decisions as well as for society.

Peter Lemke has been working on the observation of climate processes in the atmosphere, sea ice and ocean since the 1970s, particularly on the interaction between these. Strong natural variability and long-term trends in the atmosphere and ocean are reflected in the sea ice, since the formation and melting of the ice depend primarily on air and water temperatures. However, it is difficult to differentiate between action and reaction, because the sea ice in turn affects the atmosphere and ocean and thus there is a feedback on its driving sources. The winner of the Bayer Climate Award 2010 has participated in a total of seven, month long polar expeditions with the German research icebreaker Polarstern - five of them as chief scientist. In addition to the scientific gain, Lemke also drew very practical consequences: Due to the poor monitoring conditions in the polar regions, he was strongly committed to developing new measuring technology, particularly for remote sensing, during his involvement in the team of scientists responsible for the ESA “CryoSat” satellite.

Professor Lemke was born in Soltau and is 63 years of age. He has been working at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association since 2001, where he currently heads the Department of Environmental Sciences. He is also Professor of Physics of the atmosphere and ocean at the Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen. His previous scientific stations include the University of Kiel, Princeton University, New Jersey (USA), the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Hamburg University (degree in physics, PhD and Habilitation in Meteorology) and the Free University of Berlin (Studies in Physics and Mathematics).

Peter Lemke is a member of a number of committees. Between 1995 and 2006, for example, he was an active member of the Scientific Committee for the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). This is the highest international committee for climate research and Peter was the first German to head the committee, a position he held for six years. One result of this work is the realignment of the WCRP to longer-term climate predictions based on the initial success with the much-improved seasonal climate forecasts in the tropics, resulting in part from the monitoring of the "El Niño" climate phenomenon. This is a recurring unusual ocean warming process in the equatorial Pacific, which regularly generates storms in Latin America and droughts in Australia and Indonesia, with catastrophic consequences.

Currently, Peter Lemke is working on the development of models for the analysis and prediction of regional climate change. These are of particular importance, because it is only by understanding the future climate development in particular regions, that it will it be possible to appropriately prepare for and adapt to the consequences. This task is being tackled by the “REKLIM (Regional Climate Change)” climate initiative organized by the Helmholtz network, headed by Lemke and in which eight research centres are collaborating.
Professor Lemke was instrumental in preparing the World Climate Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. In 1991, he received the Georgi award for Polar Meteorology from the Alfred Wegener Foundation (now the Geo-Union). In 2005 he was appointed honorary professor of the China Meteorological Administration.

Notes for Editors:

Your contact person at the Alfred Wegener Institute is Margarete Pauls, Communications and Media Relations (Phone: +49 471 4831-1180, e-mail: Please find printable pictures at

More information on the Bayer Climate Program under:

Information on the Bayer Science & Education Foundation under:

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and oceans of the high and mid latitudes. It coordinates polar research in Germany and provides major infrastructure to the international scientific community, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctic. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the sixteen research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.


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Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.