Research Focus

What part of today's climate changes has been inflicted by humankind? This is one of the central questions our research is about. To properly address this question, we need to know the parameters of natural variations of temperature in the ocean, over the continents, and in the cryosphere. Past changes can be reconstructed by inspecting historical time series of direct temperature measurements or documentation of environmental observations.

However, direct temperature measurement records which would allow to quantify climate changes on a global scale are too short, and they fall already within the period of strong human impact on natural conditions. Thus, information on the pre-anthropogenic state of the system can be obtained either from proxies that record past climate and environmental conditions, or by simulating climate using comprehensive models of the climate system. The paleoclimate record provides an excellent test of these models as it reveals climate variations that have actually occurred in the past.

Our main goal is to better understand climate variability and change on different time scales:

Holocene and present day | Quarternary | Pre-Quarternary

Examples from our research:

Recent study: Gradual changes in the atmospheric CO2 concentration can induce abrupt climate changes, this shows one of our recent studies.

Aufnahme einer AWI-Expedition auf den Russell-Gletscher, Westgrönland


Publications: We publish our research results in journals, books, at conferences and seminars. Lectures for the interested public and contributions to reports are also part of our scientific work. View list of publications >

Recent publications

Further publications: One of our major projects - the Earth System Science Research School ESSReS - has been finished recently. A book illustrating our interdisciplinary approach in Earth system science was published as the final touch to the project.

Further publications