"Excellent researcher, warm manners": farewell symposium for Gerstengarbe

06/02/2014 - One of the founding members and key figures of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was honored with a farewell symposium last week. Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, assistant director of the institute and co-chair of its research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities, embarked on his retirement. About 200 peers, colleagues, and friends, gathered to debate an issue dear to Gerstengarbe, a meteorologist who always cared about the practical implications of his findings: 'Climate and Climate Impact Research between Science and Society'.
"Excellent researcher, warm manners": farewell symposium for Gerstengarbe
Fritz Gerstengarbe talking with guests at his farewell symposium, including Sabine Kunst, Minister for Science, Research and Culture of the Land Brandenburg (on the right), and PIK's director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (left). Photo: PIK

"Besides being an excellent researcher, it is his warm manners that make Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe such an outstanding person," said Sabine Kunst, Minister of Science, Research and Culture of the state of Brandenburg. She even showed up twice in one day to give her goodbyes: First, she went to see Gerstengarbe in the cafeteria to tell him that she would probably not be able to make it to the symposium. Nevertheless, she came to the event later and gave a short, yet heartfelt speech.

"You, Fritz, have certainly contributed more than your fair share to our institute," said Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, director of PIK. Most recently, Gerstengarbe helped to pave PIK's way into the future, as he was heavily involved in the institute's successful evaluation by external scientists, noted Schellnhuber. "It feels strange to see him leave now." Something he will always remember about Gerstengarbe is his absolute loyalty towards his collaborators, Schellnhuber said on a lighter note, "a loyalty that borders on stubbornness".

The symposium featured lectures by the legendary climate researcher Heinz Wanner of Bern University on Europe's climate in the past 2000 years and interactions with society, by Jucundus Jacobeit of the University Augsburg on atmospheric circulation, by Ernst Lantermann of the University Kassel on social science dimensions of climate change, and by Peter Höppe of Munich Re on the insurance industry at the crossroads between climate science and the implementation of research findings.