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.).
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: www.aufgeheizt.org )
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