Below, we introduce our most important projects in alphabetical order.

Advanced Prediction in Polar regions and beyond: modelling, observing system design and LInkages associated with a Changing Arctic climate

APPLICATE is an €8 million project financed by the EU HORIZON 2020 Research and Innovation programme that involves 16 partners from nine countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and will be carried out over a period of four years. The multinational and multidisciplinary consortium will work to enhance weather and climate prediction capabilities not only in the Arctic, but also in Europe, Asia, and North America. A focus on the Arctic is important for improved predictions of weather and climate in the mid-latitudes because the changes taking place in the Arctic due to climate change — the retreat of sea ice, warming seas and a warming atmosphere — have the potential to influence weather and climate in the mid-latitudes.

Luisa Cristini | Claudia Hinrichs | Thomas Jung | Narges KhosraviSara PasqualettoTido Semmler

Follow APPLICATE on Twitter @applicate_eu.

"Processes and impacts of climate change in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Canadian Arctic" aims to edu­ca­te PhD stu­dents in an in­ter­di­sci­pli­na­ry en­vi­ron­ment that com­bi­nes the strength in ma­ri­ne geo­sci­en­ces and en­vi­ron­men­tal phy­sics in Bre­men with com­ple­men­ta­ry skills and ex­per­ti­se in sea-ice and ice-sheet mo­de­lling in a con­sor­ti­um of eight Ca­na­di­an part­ner uni­ver­si­ties. The sci­en­ti­fic team with the PhD stu­dents in its cent­re aims to ad­van­ce the un­der­stan­ding of the va­ria­bi­li­ty of the Arc­tic Oce­an and the cryo­s­phe­re on time sca­les of de­ca­des to mill­en­nia and to use the­se re­sults to ro­bust­ly as­sess the im­pact of pro­jec­ted fu­ture cli­ma­te chan­ges on the Arc­tic.

Deniz Aydin | Martin Losch | Damien Ringeisen


Advanced Earth System Modelling Capacity: A contribution to solving Grand Challenges by developing and applying innovative Earth System Modelling capacity

ESM is a €10 million project started in April 2017 funded by the Helmholtz Association over a period of three years. The project comprises eight Helmholtz Research Centres and aims to improve the representation of the components of the Earth system and their coupling, as well as to perform a series of selected numerical experiments to address Grand Challenges (Frontier Simulations). A long-term strategy for the development of an Earth System Modelling capacity is also an objective of the project.

Dirk Barbi | Luisa Cristini | Helge Goessling | Thomas Jung | Suvarchal Kumar Cheedela | Lars Nerger | Sara PasqualettoThomas Rackow | Tido Semmler | Qi Tang | Nadine Wieters

Follow ESM on Twitter @project_esm.

ESM-TOOLS is a software product developed and maintained at AWI Bremerhaven as part of the Helmholtz project ESM with the aim to unify model infrastructure, giving a common framework for downloading, compiling, running and organizing coupled or standalone models. ESM-TOOLS is composed of three tools: (1) esm-master: Makefile-based tool to download, configure and compile the models (2) esm-environment: Machine-dependant settings for compiling and running of models, all collected in one place. (3) esm-runscripts: collection of functions enabling to use short and concise runscripts, practically identical independent of machine or even model. The underlying functions organize the whole experiment, including copying of data, modifying of namelists, sanity checks, iterative coupling, and much more.

Miguel Andrés-Martínez | Dirk Barbi | Luisa Cristini | Deniz Ural | Nadine Wieters

Follow ESM-TOOLS on Twitter @ToolsEsm.

FRontiers in Arctic marine Monitoring

Our ability to understand the complex interactions of biological, chemical, physical, and geological processes in the ocean and on land is still limited by the lack of integrative and interdisciplinary observation infrastructures. The main purpose of the open-ocean infrastructure FRAM is permanent presence at sea, from surface to depth, for the provision of near real-time data on Earth system dynamics, climate variability and ecosystem change. The Climate Dynamics section supports the FRAM infrastructure program with high-resolution ocean and sea-ice simulations. 

Vibe Schourup-Kristensen | Claudia Wekerle

Amending North Atlantic Model Biases to Improve Arctic Predictions

NAtMAP is an European consortium project under the ERA-Net.RUS funding scheme, with partners from the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IOPAN) and the Institute of Numerical Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (INMRAS).

The AWI share is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) until mid-2018. The main goal of the project is to understand and reduce long-standing common biases in the simulated hydrography of the North Atlantic, in particular by analyzing the impact of oceanic resolution in key regions, such as the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Current regions, the Labrador Sea, and the Denmark Strait. The main tool for this research is the unstructured-mesh model FESOM.

Helge Goessling | Özgür Gürses | Thomas Rackow | Dmitry Sidorenko

PRIMAVERA is a “Horizon 2020” project funded by the European Commission. The project is a collaboration between 19 European partners, led by the Met Office and the Reading University. The main objectives of the project are to develop a new generation of advanced and well-evaluated high-resolution global climate models, and perform simulations and predictions of regional climate with unprecedented fidelity.

Jan Hegewald | Thomas Jung | Stephan Juricke | Thomas Rackow | Dmitry Sein | Tido Semmler

The Weddell Sea in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean is one of the most dynamic air/ice/ocean interaction areas and the Larsen Ice Shelf adjacent to the Antarctic Peninsula has undergone dramatic changes in recent decades which need to be understood. Additionally, the Antarctic continental shelves and the exchange of shelf water with the open ocean play a key role for global ocean circulation. The aim of this PhD project within the framework of REDOCCA (Regional high-resolution Downscaling of Climate Change in the Antarctic) is to study the impact of changes in the atmospheric conditions on the ocean circulation in the Weddell Sea for the mid and the end of the 21st century. As a first step historical runs and runs of recent climate of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute Climate Model AWI-CM (years 1850-2014), as well as the IPCC RCP 8.5 scenario (years 2015-2100) performed for CMIP6 will be analyzed with a focus on polynya representation and the formation of High Salinity Shelf Water. In addition, the present-day climate simulations of AWI-CM shall be compared to a reference COSMO-CLM (CCLM, a regional climate model) and stand-alone FESOM simulations available from a previous project. The AWI-CM simulations have a coarser resolution than both, but are still finer than state-of-the-art global climate models regarding horizontal resolution in the Southern Ocean. Subsequently the University Trier will perform regional climate simulations using the non-hydrostatic CCLM for recent and future climate and analyze with a focus on mesoscale processes, atmosphere/ice/ocean processes and near-surface climate. After that, locally high- resolution, stand-alone FESOM simulations will be performed forced by a combination of output from the high-resolution regional CCLM or AWI-CM data outside the CCLM domains. Influences on the ocean circulation and the sea ice by both the inclusion of cavities and high-resolution atmosphere features will be investigated. The suite of model simulations of present-day climate will be evaluated with data from the YOPP (Year of Polar Prediction) intense observing period in summer 2018/2019. The simulations for future climate (coarse-resolution AWI-CM and high-resolution FESOM) will be compared to each other regarding changes in polynya formation and ocean circulation. Afterwards the effect of very high-resolution forcing data considering air-sea-ice interactions shall be investigated in a time-slice experiment covering the period 2010-2019. The focus will be on the representation of local wind systems, sea ice production and ice shelf basal melt rates at the Larsen Ice Shelf. This will address the questions of the role of foehn for melting processes at the Larsen Ice Shelf in past and future, and the influence of high-resolution atmospheric forcing on the evolution of ice shelf melting processes in the future.

Vanessa Kolatschek | Tido Semmler

Ocean mass varibility on time scales of months to decades is still insufficiently understood. On these time scales, large-scale bottom pressure anomalies are associated both with wind induced variability as well as baroclinic processes, i.e. related to vertical shear of ocean density. The GRACE mission has been instrumental in quantifying such mass fluctuations, yet its lifetime is limited. However, the broader importance of non-tidal ocean mass variability for geodesy and oceanography, i.e. for understanding the time varying geoid, shape of the Earth's crust, centre of figure, Earth rotation, is obvious. Similarly, deep ocean processes can only be understood properly when not only sea surface height and upper ocean steric expansion are measured but deep ocean pressure anomalies are accounted for in addition. Only the knowledge of all three terms allows estimates of deep ocean warming and helps in understanding and predicting sea level rise. In "Consistent Ocean Mass Time Series from LEO Potential Field Missions (CONTIM)" we propose to combine expertise on precise satellite orbit determination, gravity field and mass modelling, and physical oceanography to retrieve, analyse and verify consistent time series of ocean mass variations from a set of low-flying Earth orbiters including GRACE. This information is used to further our understanding of oceanic movement, ocean warming and sea level rise.

Alexey Androsov | Sergey Danilov | Jens Schröter

Understanding regional sea level change and its impacts on societies requires new forms of integrated research between natural and social sciences. The Priority Program (SPP-1889) "Regional Sea Level Change and Society (SeaLevel)", funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) performs a comprehensive, interdisciplinary analysis to advance our knowledge on regional, climate-related sea level change, while taking into account the associated human-environment interactions and socio-economic developments in the coastal zone.

Nils Hutter | Martin Losch

Seamless Sea Ice Prediction

The BMBF Young Investigator Group SSIP (2017—2022) works towards advancing sea-ice prediction capacity on timescales from hours to years and beyond. To achieve this, SSIP develops and conducts research with a seamless sea-ice prediction system based on the recently developed AWI Climate Model. The unstructured grid of the ocean/sea-ice component of this model (FESOM) allows to use high resolution in the polar regions (plus other key regions) in a global setup, enabling a seamless application of the prediction system on a wide range of timescales. The group applies state-of-the-art techniques to initialize the prediction model using remote-sensing and in-situ observations; it optimizes and further develops the sea-ice component of the prediction model; and it applies the prediction system to address research questions related to sea-ice predictability, verification, and the impact of different observations on sea-ice prediction.

Helge Goessling | Longjiang Mu | Bimochan Niraula | Simon Reifenberg | Lorenzo Zampieri

TRR181 is a DFG funded project about energy transfers in atmosphere and ocean.

The energy of a closed system is steady. It is not lost but rather converted into other forms, such as when kinetic energy is transferred into thermal energy or vice versa heat results in a force.

However, this fundamental principle of natural science is often still a problem for climate research. For example, in case of the calculation of ocean currents, where small-scale vortices as well as mixing processes they induce need to be considered, without fully understanding where the energy for their creation originates from. This is similar in the atmosphere, the only difference being that air is moving instead of water. Again, local turbulences can drive larger movements or vice versa waves on a larger scale can disintegrate into small structures.

All these processes are important for the Earth’s climate and determine how temperatures will rise in the future.

Deniz Aydin | Sergey Danilov | Thomas Jung | Stephan Juricke | Nikolay Koldunov | Martin Losch | Dirk Olbers | Patrick Scholz | Margarita Smolentseva

The Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) is a major international activity that has been initiated by World Meteorological Organization’s World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) as a key component of the Polar Prediction Project (PPP). YOPP takes place from mid-2017 to mid-2019. Its overarching goal is to significantly advance our environmental prediction capabilities for the polar regions and beyond.

As an internationally coordinated period of intensive observing, modelling, prediction, verification, user-engagement and education activities which involves various stakeholders, the Year of Polar Prediction will contribute to the knowledge base needed to managing the opportunities and risks that come with Arctic climate change.

Helge Goessling | Thomas Jung | Katharina Kirchhoff | Sara PasqualettoFelix Pithan | Kirstin Werner

Follow YOPP on Twitter @polarprediction or visit the YOPP YouTube Channel.

For more information also see the our leaflet and our infographics.


1.5° target and the West Antarctic ice sheet

ZUWEISS is a BMBF funded project in which the benefits of a limitation of global warming to 1.5°C and 2°C are investigated. 

The exceedance of critical temperature thresholds in the Southern Ocean can lead to an irreversible collapse of the West-Antarctic Ice Sheet. This would result in a sea level rise of several meters, influence the global ocean circulation and would therefore have consequences for the global climate. To determine the extent and the uncertainty of these effects under a given global warming (1.5°C, 2°C, business-as-usual: about 4°C), scenarios which are available worldwide as well as new simulations with the Alfred Wegener Institute Climate Model (AWI-CM) and a state-of-the-art ice sheet model are combined. Paleo climate scenarios are taken as a reference point and can be used to judge the quality of the model studies. The goal of this project is to work out what positive consequences a global warming limit of 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level which is currently discussed in the politics would have compared to less ambitious aims such as the 2°C limit or even no attempt to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations.

Publicly available simulations of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) are used as driving data for the ice sheet model to study changes in the ice sheet and shelf ice over the next hundreds of years. To consider the feedback mechanisms between shelf ice, ocean, and atmosphere, coupled ice sheet – ocean – atmosphere simulations are computed for the first time in a high horizontal resolution and on climate time scales of several hundreds of years (Figure 1). The focus is on the Antarctic ice sheet but will be extended to changes in other regions (Arctic, northern and southern mid-latitudes, tropics) in the course of the project.

Özgür Gürses | Madlene Pfeiffer | Christian Rodehacke | Tido Semmler