Past Colloquia in 2011/2012



Prof. Dr. Sharon Harlon

Arizona State University, USA

Global Institute for Sustainability

Dr. Susanne Grossman-Clarke

PIK and Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University

A Coupled Natural and Human Systems Study of Climate Change and Health in Phoenix, Arizona U.S.A.

The urbanized Phoenix region in the Sonoran Desert of central Arizona is extremely hot, dry, and populous. Its survival depends upon human-designed technological systems to deliver irrigation water and power energy production facilities to cool indoor environments. This presentation is an overview of our transdisciplinary research on how people, plants, and climate change create a dynamic and complex social-ecological system in this desert metropolis that requires careful stewardship in order to sustain vital natural resources and human health. Over the 20th century, socially and economically distinct neighborhoods have experienced landscape and temperature changes in the region quite differently. Our research defines the complex mosaic of urban heat ‘riskscapes’, assesses the vulnerability of people in different neighborhoods to heat-related morbidity and mortality, and identifies reasons for variability within the region. The project makes extensive use of remotely-sensed data to track changes in land cover, surface temperature, and vegetation abundance through time. We are developing future scenarios by coupling global climate projections with regional climate models. These results will define the contours of temperature changes at a local higher resolution that can be used to estimate 21st century intra-urban differences in land cover and health care utilization for heat-related illnesses. Through education and public outreach, we share our results with stakeholders and engage the most vulnerable communities in participatory adaptation strategies that may reduce risks from climate change and associated environmental hazards.



Dr. Salazar Martínez

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium)

Growth, Development and Climate Change: Mitigation Alternatives for Mexico

Climate Change affects different regions of the planet in a great variety of ways. As a matter of fact, the entire region of Central America is highly vulnerable to Climate Change due to its varied geographical conditions, great biodiversity and poverty. The case of Mexico is particularly important in the region, due to the size of its economy, its stage of development and the size of its population (115 million). Despite the abundance of natural resources, during the last decades it has not been easy to realize that sustainable strategies such as agro-ecological food production or use of renewable energies will play a decisive role both as adaptation and mitigation strategies. In this talk we concentrate on mitigation strategies. Several studies have been made already, showing that technically the potential for mitigation in the country is relatively high. Many key sectors have been identified and in some example cases progress is beginning to be noticed.

However, it is still not completely clear to many that climatic actions are not merely some technical goals to achieve. The future of the region concerning biodiversity conservation and human development as well indeed require a major shift in the current trends of economic development. We consider that the alternatives to perform such change are best found among the sustainability tasks. We therefore conclude, explicitly, that in countries like Mexico climate change actions and the activation of sustainable development to larger scales need to be encompassed and actually, must be treated as a joint issue. We conclude by analyzing some of the reasons and "inertias" involved in stopping this sort of quest.



Dr. Danda P. Adhikari

Tribhuvan University (Nepal)


Climate change and its impacts in the Nepal Himalaya: observations, projections and challenges

Nepal is largely an agrarian mountainous country in the central Himalayan region where the rate of climate change has been among the highest in the world. Analysis of recent climate data reveals more than 1oC average maximum temperature rise in the last 30 years, with high elevation sites warming the most. Despite its negligible contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions (0.025%), climate change is impacting Nepal rather disproportionately. Over 350 deaths have occurred annually due to flood and landslide activities arising from the increase in extreme precipitation events, and this rate is increasing due. There is growing evidence of widespread glacial retreat leading to increasing possibility of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF), water resource depletion, changes in monsoon timing and weather patterns, losses in biodiversity and crop yield, disruption in ecosystem services, increase in drought frequency and disease outbreak etc. These stresses are already affecting economic performance and human well-being. The agricultural sector, crucial to the well-being of the vast majority of the population, is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in weather and climate.
The recently developed climate change scenarios for Nepal across multiple general circulation models show considerable convergence on continued warming, with country

averaged mean temperature increase of 1.4°C, 2.8°C and 4.7°C projected by 2030s, 2060s and 2090s, respectively. Future impacts associated with the projected temperature rise are likely to be significant to make livelihood more difficult and hinder its development activities. Adaptation is viewed as an urgent action to build capacity to respond to the impact of climate change but the complexity of Nepal’s interconnected geophysical and social environments and its limited human, financial and institutional and technological resources are the barriers to be overcome. The presentation gives an overview of the observed and projected climate change and the associated impacts in the Nepal Himalaya, and discusses adaptation challenges.

Telegraphenberg, Cupula, A31

Prof. Dr. S.K. Dash

Indian Institute for Technology, Center for Atmospheric Sciences
Characteristics of Indian Summer Monsoon in the Warming Atmosphere: Future Challenges
Because of the vastness of geographical extent, heterogeneity of climate and complexity of topography, the study of climate change in India needs emphasis on the regional aspects to arrive at meaningful scientific results. In this talk the notable spatial (across different regions) as well as temporal (across different seasons) changes in precipitation and temperature in the last half century will be high lighted. Data show that the atmospheric surface temperature has enhanced in all the homogeneous regions of India with a maximum value of about 10 C during winter and post-monsoon months. There is a significant seasonal asymmetry in the temperature rise. Also extreme temperature events of different types have enhanced over all the regions. It is found that the total precipitation during the summer monsoon months of June to September does not show any statistically significant trend. However, the numbers of short spell high intensity rain events and dry spells have increased in the last half century. Long spell rain events, on the other hand, show decreasing trend. The decrease in the number of long spell rain events associated with similar tendencies in the number of monsoon depressions, the mean monsoon wind and its shears over India suggests that the Indian summer monsoon circulation might be weakening. The observed changes in the spatial and temporal characteristics of temperature and rainfall may lead to future challenges in several sectors of the society, especially in agriculture and health. Some examples will be discussed. Regional climate changes can be well studied with the help of regional models. This talk will deal with the simulation of summer monsoon climate by the regional climate model RegCM. Validation studies indicate that RegCM at horizontal resolution of 55 km well simulates the summer monsoon precipitation over central India. Several sensitivity experiments have been conducted using different combinations of physical parameterization schemes available in RegCM4 over the South Asia CORDEX domain. RegCM4 is being integrated over the South Asia CORDEX domain up to the end of the century to generate important climatic parameters for the Indian subcontinent under two emission scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. These model simulations may help determining the climate uncertainties in the summer monsoon circulation and rainfall and subsequently their effective use in impact studies and policy formulation.

Dr. Björn Guse

Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

IMPACT-Project: Coupling of a catchment model with hydraulic and biota models to predict habitat conditions and to apply climate and land use scenarios
The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) demands good ecological conditions in
European rivers. Therefore, the hydrological processes at the catchment scale have to be modelled under consideration of water and nutrient balance. The recently started IMPACT project is tailored to model the whole chain of the WFD from the abiotic processes in the catchment to the habitat and biotic conditions. In this way, the dispersion and occurrence of selected species can be assessed.
In a first step of this project, the Treene catchment in the North of Germany is used as an initial study region and the water balance is modelled using the eco-hydrological model SWAT. In addition to that, a water quality sampling with daily resolution was started at the outlet of the catchment. The results of the SWAT model will be used as input for the hydraulic model HEC-RAS. The output of both models is used for the hydro- and morphodynamic models in the IMPACT model chain.
In a second phase, different climate and land use change scenarios will be developed. By using them as an input for the SWAT model, scenario runs allow an estimation of the impact of climate and land use changes on the abiotic and biotic habitat conditions.

18:00, Kino 2115, Marlene-Dietrich-Allee 11, Babelsberg

Gemeinsames Kolloqium der HFF und des PIK

Begrüßung: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kropp, PIK Impulsbeitrag: Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Müller, HFF Moderation: Thomas Prinzler, Wissenschaftsredakteur Inforadio (rbb)

Es diskutieren: Prof. Dr. Heiner Mühlmann, Kulturtheoretiker, Philosoph, ZHdK Zürich und HfG Karlsruhe Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Lucht, Physiker, Leiter des PIK-Forschungsbereichs "Klimawirkung und Vulnerabilität"

Wissenschaft als selbstreferentielles System in der Legitimationsfalle der Mediengesellschaft?

Für wen generiert Wissenschaft Wissen? Erstens für sich selbst. Die Veröffentlichungen zielen auf die Kollegen und die eigene Karriere. Die Sprache ist in der Regel elitär und schließt Laien aus. Es ist ein selbstreferentielles System, das sich durch ein ihm eigenes Verfahren von der Umwelt abgrenzt. Wissenschaftliche Forschung unterliegt in Zeiten technologischer Umbrüche, einer steigenden gesellschaftlichen Sensibilität in Bezug auf die Verantwortung von Wissenschaft und deren Folgen und knapper öffentlicher Kassen einem immer stärker werdenden Legitimationsdruck. Während sich also die Wissenschaft ausdifferenziert und von der Gesellschaft weitgehend separiert, folgen die Massenmedien einer anderen Rationalität, die vor allem Unterhaltung und vordergründige Wahrnehmung durch die Rezipienten in den Fokus rückt. Wie muss sich Wissenschaft in der Mediengesellschaft positionieren? Wie können Kommunikationsbarrieren zwischen Wissenschaftlern und Medienmachern überwunden werden? Wie könnte ein gelungener Medienproduktionsprozess in einer interdisziplinären Zusammenarbeit aussehen?



Nina Schwarz

UFZ Leipzig
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung

The form of European cities

Four out of five European citizens life in urban areas, and urban form – like the density or compactness of a city – influences daily life and is an important factor for both quality of life and environmental impact. Urban planning can influence urban form, but due to practicality needs to focus on a few indicators out of the numerous indicators which are available. In this talk, an analysis is presented that takes into account landscape metrics and population-related indicators to describe European cities. In the study, main indicators for European urban form were identified and European cities were clustered using these indicators. Findings suggest that the notion of "the European city" does not reflect upon the diversity we find in reality.



Wolfgang Schade

Fraunhofer-Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI)

Vision of a sustainable mobility in Germany

VIVER (Leben) – Vision für nachhaltigen Verkehr in Deutschland ist ein Eigenforschungsprojekt des Fraunhofer ISI initiiert durch das Geschäftsfeld Verkehrssysteme. Ziel des Projektes war es eine anschauliche Vision für nachhaltigen Verkehr in Deutschland für das Jahr 2050 zu entwerfen. Dabei wurde bewusst ausschließlich die interdisziplinäre Expertise des Fraunhofer-ISI genutzt.

Die beschriebene Vision stellt das Ergebnis einer Entwicklung hin zu einem nachhaltigen Verkehrssystem anschaulich dar und kann die Kommunikation nachhaltiger Entwicklungsziele an relevante gesellschaftliche Zielgruppen unterstützen und Anziehungskraft ausüben statt Angst vor Veränderungen zu wecken.



Dr. Martin Wattenbach

MILIEU-Centre for Urban Earth System Studies
Freie Universität Berlin

MILIEU - The Berlin centre for urban earth system studies

Urban agglomerations are the main habitat for humans on the planet Earth, and the trend towards life in cities and its peripheral regions is one of the key processes of Global Change. Closely entangled to the expansions of cities are other processes of Global Change that may strongly interact with the extension of urbanization such as the change in climate, higher frequency of extreme weather events, environmental pollution, population growth, the increase in water demand, and the decrease in biodiversity. All these factors have profound effects on the habitat condition the inhabitants of cities face and consequently on human well-being.

Beside these top down effects on cities and on their inhabitants the cities structures and processes themselves modify and very often amplify many of the processes mentioned above with a trend towards a higher importance as elements in the dynamic of the entire earth system. This increase in importance of cities does not per se have negative consequences only. Cities, due to high population density, offer the chance for centralized adaptation and mitigation measures in ecosystem services as well as urban infrastructure in an ever faster changing environment. The high population density offers the chance to reduce the per capita energy needs and therefore reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants. They can also store significant amounts of carbon which reduces the green house gas footprint even further.

The MILIEU project constitutes an initiative of institutions in the Berlin-Brandenburg region to form a Centre of Urban Earth System Studies. The unique cooperation of the universities, Free University, Technical University, Humboldt University and University of Potsdam with some of the largest non-university research facilities in the German Capital Region of Berlin and Brandenburg brings together expertise in geosciences, medicine, veterinary medicine, regional and urban planning, biology, ecology and economy to form a centre of expertise. The talk will introduce the different research chains of the cluster together with results of the first year of work spanning form vector borne diseases, human health and heat stress over to air pollution modelling and the GHG budget of the city of Berlin.



Stefan Hennemann

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen Wirtschaftsgeographie

China’s Quest for Innovation

Especially in the last decade, astute changes in Chinese science and technology policy strategy have taken place. The recent developments could have the potential for solid restructuring in the Chinese economy in general. This, in turn will inevitably have effects on the global economy since China is a strongly linked actor in the world economic and science system. The enormous economic upswing in recent years can partly be attributed to sound reforms in all areas of the socio-economic system, especially in the education system, the science system and the industry system. The core principle of all reforms is to focus on strategic fields of development and to foster regional concentration.
Starting from the reforms in the early 1990s the Chinese economy has taken major steps ahead, but true innovative activity seldom occurs. Rather, although the inputs for research and development are increasing, the outcome is still negligible. Compared to the international innovation activity of other economies, Chinese patents and high-tech products are still dominated by foreign technology. But recent success of scientific research in core fields such as bio- or nano-technology open up ground for an upgrade of the Chinese innovation system. This will take time as returns on investments in education and the science system will not be instantaneous but need to be handled as preparatory efforts. Currently, innovation by Chinese high-tech industries seems out of scope but when taking into account the time horizon of the Fifteen-Year Plan of Science and Technology for 2020, it is well imaginable that innovative activities will continue to shift towards the private business sector. Such development could challenge foreign companies not only inside China, but across the globe.



Christoph Mudersbach

Research Institute for Water and Environment
Universität Siegen

Sea Level Rise and Storm Surges – Challenges for coastal engineers

Sea level rise and the height and frequency of storm surges are dominant factors in designing coastal defence structures. Sea level rise is one of the major consequences we are facing in times of a warming climate and it is obvious that a higher sea level influences the heights of occurring storm surges. Thus, a higher risk of inundation for the affected coastal areas is likely. Therefore, the development of the regional sea level rise on the Southern North Sea is subject to many recent works at the Research Institute for Water and Environment. Storm surges along the German North Sea coastline led to major damages in the past. The knowledge of the characteristics of storm surges is essential to perform integrated risk analyses and to develop design codes for coastal defence structures. The latter have to provide a certain safety level, which is commonly based on return periods. However, changes in sea level rise and storm surges are likely due to climate change and therefore, non-stationary extreme value approaches have to be applied.



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