You are here: Home PIK Members Homepage Thomas Schneider von Deimling Research interests

Research interests

My main research interest is on physical and bio-geochemical climate feedbacks and their role in affecting future climate change. The question of quantifying and constraining projection uncertainty is a central aspect of my work, with a current focus on the size and dynamics of the permafrost-carbon feedback.

Reducing Uncertainty in Climate Sensitivity

Uncertainty in Climate sensitivity - the equilibrium change in global mean temperature following a doubling of atmospheric CO2 content - crucially affects projections of future climate warming.

In my work I investigate which constraints prove especially promising in putting effective bounds on climate sensitivity - such as information stemming from paleo data archives (e.g. the reconstructed cooling during the last  glacial maximum, LGM, 21kyrs B.P.).


 Permafrost-carbon feedbacks

 How strongly will permafrost degradation affect future global temperature rise and atmospheric greenhouse gas levels? What role do methane emissions play for the strength of the permafrost-carbon feedback?

For investigating these aspects of uncertainty in the terrestrial carbon cycle I developed a new and simplified module which calculates the thawing of permafrost and subsequent decomposition of soil carbon. This module was coupled to MAGICC-6, an efficient climate-carbon cycle model which allows running large ensembles for scenario-based probabilistic climate predictions.


Climate stability (risk of Runaway Climate)

Given current knowledge about physical and bio-geochemical feedbacks in the climate system:  is there a non-negligible risk that the sum of these feedbacks might increase in a worst case scenario such that a self-amplified warming of the Earth-climate system will result (for a limited temperature regime)?


Communication of climate change science

 In 2012 I worked in a project which aims at developing new formats for better communicating climate science to the public. (Link to our pilot project, in which we worked with young students: )



Further research interests
  • Paleo climates (esp. polar amplification in hothouse climates)
  • Probabilistic projections of future climate change
  • Emission targets for climate policies
  • Risk assessment of geo-engineering strategies

Document Actions