Research Unit 3 (Topic 3)

The Earth System from a polar perspective: Data, modelling and synthesis

Both reconstructions of past climates and projections of future climate change suggest that high-latitude regions react with particularly sensitivity to external forcing. We aim to unravel high latitude climate variability in time and space and understand the forcing mechanisms and global feedbacks that drive climate change at time scales ranging from the geological past over glacial cycles to the present and future.

We use an integrated approach including observations, palaeoenvironmental data, and Earth System modelling together with new drilling efforts of marine, lake, and ice cores to formulate and test hypotheses explaining the causes, mechanisms and feedbacks of climate change.

Using process-based knowledge from ice and geo-archives, we were able to test the applicability of Earth System models under external forcing. We put recent variability of the Earth System into a long-term context, and evaluated the models‘ potential to enhance future climate change predictions.

Speaker: Gerrit Lohmann

Involved Sections



Climate Sciences


WP 1: Circumpolar climate variability and global teleconnections at seasonal to orbital time scales

Mission statement: We investigate the role of polar regions in past climates by generating a circumpolar synthesis of Quaternary multi-proxy records from land, ocean and ice combined with Earth system modelling.

Principal Investigators: Frank Lamy, Thomas Laepple

WP 2: Earth system on tectonic time scales: From greenhouse to icehouse world

Mission statement: We study the influence of geodynamic-tectonic processes on palaeo-environmental conditions and glacial evolution at high latitudes in the last 65 million years by data-based reconstructions in combination with modelling.

Principal Investigators: Vera Schlindwein, Gregor Knorr

WP 3: From process understanding to enabling climate prediction

Mission statement: Explore mechanisms, predictability and global influences of polar climate variability and change.

Principal Investigators: Helge Gößling, Dörthe Handorf