5th Swiss Global Change Day - Meeting Report
(gm) On 5 April 2004 ProClim organized the fifth Swiss Global Change Day in Bern. The already established yearly meeting provides a platform where the Swiss global change research community can meet as a whole. About 220 participants took the opportunity to discuss current problems in a transdisciplinary manner with the invited provocaters Rudolf Burger from 'Der Bund', the director of IHDP Barbara Göbel and Hans-Peter Fricker, CEO WWF Switzerland.
Well known experts presented new findings, highlights and challenges in the broad field of global environmental change research:
Tom Crowley from the Duke Univ. Durham showed in his presentation that geological data and modeling studies can be used to place greenhouse gas discussions in a longer time perspective. Taken together with studies of the instrumental era, the results indicate that anthropogenic greenhouse gas forcing has already risen above the noise level in the «natural system».
Wilfried Haeberlifrom the Univ. of Zurich pointed out that fluctuations of mountain glaciers are considered to represent natural key indicators of climate change, helping with the early detection of an enhanced greenhouse effect. In 2003 the glaciers in the European Alps have lost about 5-10% of their remaining volume, this is four to five times the mean rate of the decades 1980-2000.
The ocean is and has been in the past an important player in global change and is connected to land and atmosphere in various ways as was presented by Karin Lochte from the Univ. of Kiel, Germany. For example, relatively small changes in freshwater input have interrupted the thermohaline circulation in the north Atlantic Ocean in the past. Future research on global change in the ocean must focus on the triggers and buffers in Earth System dynamics and on regions most susceptible to global change.
Hans Thierstein from the ETH Zurich brought up that the quantitative characterization and modeling of global change in the biota lags far behind. An important focus for changes in the biosphere has been on the relative importance of abiotic controls versus biotic forcings. The oceanic plankton, because of its abundance, wide distribution, and optimal geological record, is uniquely suited for such analyses on ecological and evolutionary timescales.
Andy Hectorfrom Univ. of Zurich showed that over the last decade, the uni-directional view of biodiversity-ecosystem relationships has been modified to better incorporate the feedback from diversity to functioning. Global change biology needs a similar perspective in which biodiversity is not only a response variable dependent of the environment but in which biodiversity itself also contributes as a driver of ecosystem functioning.
Rick Leemans from the Univ. of Wagening, NL put the focus of his presentation on linking emissions to changes in human well being and biodiversity - an intergrated assessment of global change.
Heinz Gutscherfrom the Univ. of Zurich presented an interesting hypothesis, namely, that to some extent, it appears possible that material consumption can be uncoupled from improvements in human well being through the building of social capital. In this way, the impact of technological approaches can be expanded and increased through social approaches.
In the poster session the best posters in each of the fields of WCRP, IGBP, IHDP and DIVERSITAS were selected by a jury and honoured with a travel award of SFr. 1000.- each.
The following posters were awarded:
WCRP [19 posters presented; awards were sponsored by the ACP (Commission for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics) and ProClim-]:
- Harald Sodemann, ETH Zürich, IACETH: «Source Regions and Variability of Tropospheric Moisture Transport to Greenland»(poster as pdf, 808 kB)
- Aurel Schwerzmann, ETHZ, VAW: «New Method to reconstruct the Accumulation-Rate History: Vertical Tracking of Markings scratched into the Ice in a Borehole»(poster as pdf, 1.6 mB)
- Anna Nele Meckler, ETHZ, Geological Institute: «N2-Fixation: The Balancing force in the Marine Nitrogen Cycle»(poster as pdf, 372 kB)
- Sonja Keel, PSI: «Routes and Rates of C-Input in a temperate deciduous Forest demonstrated by a large Scale 13 C Tracer Experiment»(poster as pdf, 1 mB)
- Britta Allgöwer, Univ. of Zürich, Geographical Institute: «Can Long-term Wildland Fire History help to Design Future Fire and Landscape Management? - An Approach from the Swiss Alps»(poster as pdf, 990 kB)