11th Swiss Global Change Day – Meeting Report

(ev) On 20 April 2010 the Swiss global change research community met for the 11th time on the Swiss Global Change Day in Bern. About 330 participants attended the event – a record so far! More than 90 posters were presented giving an overview of the research activities in Switzerland.

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In his introduction, Heinz Gutscher referred to the recent criticism on the IPCC and climate change research in general. Gutscher emphasized the role of science as an honest broker. Science should provide data and scientific facts and ‘what-if-scenarios’ regarding climate change. However, the setting of targets and measures to reach them should be the task of politicians and the public.

Following the introduction, the six key note speakers presented highlights and challenges in the broad field of global environmental change research:

Tim Carter from the Finnish Environment Institute talked about the process of adaptation to climate change in Europe and related research. Although vulnerability assessments have shown that Europe is less vulnerable to climate change than poorer countries, a closer look at the regional scale may reveal vulnerable spots. He emphasized the importance of improving the knowledge base on climate change vulnerability and on advancing the process of adaptation on the policy level. (--> Presentation, 1.9 MB)

Harald Bugmann from ETH Zurich dealt with the question whether or not the development of forests in a greenhouse atmosphere was predictable. According to him the nature of the problem lies in the fact that forests do not fit into greenhouses and therefore, laboratory experiments are difficult. The results of small scale studies, on the other hand, cannot necessarily be applied to the larger scale since neglecting large-scale effects may falsify the picture. Very important are long-term observations (>50 years) which can provide the necessary information about long-term influences. (--> Presentation, 5.2 MB)

Linda Steg from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands focused on the psychology of energy conservation: How can people be convinced to reduce energy consumption? By means of various study results she showed that fairness appeared to be very relevant to the acceptance of policies aiming at the reduction of energy consumption. She also pointed at the importance of test periods of limited duration which may increase the acceptance of measures by the people concerned. (--> Presentation, 7 MB)

Brian Moss from the School of Biological Sciences from the UK talked about the close links between climate change and biological processes. By means of various examples he showed the impacts of climate change on the biosphere. An important point is that the different adaptation times of different ecosystem components might lead to a prolongation of ecosystem adaptation. Furthermore, rising concentrations of greenhouse gases as the drivers of climate change indicate that the global biosphere is no longer able to regulate atmospheric composition. He therefore called for a switch towards a sustainable development. (--> Presentation, 2.9 MB)

Gabriele Hegerl from the University of Edinburgh elaborated on using the past for predicting future climate change. In particular, she focused on climate sensitivity. By studying the response of temperature to external forcings in the past she concluded that doubling CO2-concentration is likely to increase global temperature between 2 and 4.5 °C. (--> Presentation, 6.8 MB)

Christof Appenzeller from MeteoSwiss talked about the improvements in climate information. He showed the difficulties associated with the use of larger scale models for predicting regional climate change and emphasized the importance of a sound data basis on the regional scale for decision makers. Appenzeller showed first results of new regional climate change scenarios for Switzerland and promised more detailed results in the near future. (--> Presentation, 2.3 MB)

Owing to the closure of a large part of the European airspace due to the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, three of the six key note speakers were not able to attend the meeting in Bern in person. Thanks to the possibility of video conferencing they were all able to give their talk. The experiment forced by nature succeeded and, as a surplus, improved the carbon footprint of the Swiss Global Change Day by 1.74 t CO2, this means that total emissions were reduced by one third.

In the poster session the best posters in each of the fields WCRP, IGBP, IHDP and DIVERSITAS were selected by a jury and honored with a travel award of SFr. 1000.- each. The following posters were awarded:

WCRP (awards were sponsored by the ACP, the Commission for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, SCNAT):

IGBP (awards were sponsored by the Swiss IGBP Committee, SCNAT):
IHDP (awards were sponsored by the SAGW):

DIVERSITAS (award was sponsored by the Swiss Biodiversity Forum, SCNAT):
  • Lidewij Keser: Determinants of invasiveness in clonal plant species
ACP Award
The Commission for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) awarded an outstanding contribution to the atmospheric sciences. The award was given to:
  • Valentin Lanz, Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, PSI, Villigen
11th Swiss Global Change Day – Meeting Report
11th Swiss Global Change Day – Meeting Report