Press release

Scientists at Alfred Wegener Institute appointed to key positions for new IPCC Assessment Report

[23. June 2010] 

Prof. Peter Lemke and Prof. Hans-Otto Pörtner look forward to responsible mission

Bremerhaven, 23. June 2010. Today the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) announced the authors and experts for its fifth Assessment Report in Geneva. They include Prof. Peter Lemke and Prof. Hans-Otto Pörtner from the Alfred Wegener Institute. Together with colleagues from all over the globe, they play a major role in work on two sub-reports that will be published in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The mission of the IPCC is to determine the state of the climate system and its impacts on biological and human social systems and point out potential political countermeasures.

Prof. Peter Lemke, who already collaborated on the fourth IPCC report, published in 2007, as a coordinating lead author, will act as Review Editor this time. In working group 1 (Physical Science Basis) he is responsible for the chapter on the Earth’s surface covered by ice – the so-called cryosphere. “I am delighted about my appointment and the confidence placed in me. In my new function in the fifth report I would like to contribute to maintaining the proven high scientific standards for the new IPCC Assessment Report,” the renowned climate researcher states who works at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. “I am convinced that the IPCC report is one of the most reliable sources for political decision-makers,” Lemke adds. He has focused on the observation of processes relevant for the climate in the atmosphere, sea ice and oceans, in particular their interactions, since the 1970s.

Prof. Hans-Otto Pörtner will be involved in working group 2 (impacts, adaptation and potential damage) as coordinating lead author of the new chapter on ocean ecosystems. Impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans will gain greater attention in the fifth IPCC report than in previous versions. As an author of more than 210 scientific articles, Pörtner examines the adaptation potential and strategies of marine animals under changing environmental conditions. They not only have to react to rising water temperatures and greater oxygen shortage, but also to the increasing acidification of the oceans due to higher carbon dioxide concentrations. “I am proud of the appointment because it indicates the international recognition given to the interdisciplinary research conducted at the Alfred Wegener Institute in the field of ocean warming and acidification effects on ecosystems,” the biologist is delighted to comment on his appointment. Like all others involved, he was appointed by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the basis of nominations by national bodies – in Germany by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as well as the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

In addition to the physical science basis and environmental impact, the fifth IPCC report will focus on the socio-economic impacts of climate change and the resulting consequences for sustainable development. In this context it will intensively examine the regional aspects of climate change and look for ways of adapting to climate change or mitigating its impacts. Important cross-sectional topics include the water balance in the Earth system, the global carbon cycle, including ocean acidification, as well as ice sheets and sea level rise. “These are core topics of research at the Alfred Wegener Institute. Furthermore, the Helmholtz Association with its REKLIM (regional climate change) initiative devotes increasing attention in particular to the regional impacts of climate change,” states Lemke, who leads this Helmholtz initiative established at the end of 2009.


The IPCC was instituted by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988 when the possibility of global climate change became more evident. The function of the IPCC is to determine the state of the climate system and its impacts on human social systems and point out potential political countermeasures at regular intervals (approx. every five to seven years). The IPCC does not conduct its own research, but makes use of published scientific literature, which it evaluates in a comprehensive, objective, free and transparent manner. The first four reports were published in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007. You will find further information on the IPCC on the Internet at



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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.