To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Conversations on Climate: the people behind the science

On Wednesday Sept. 20, the Brandeis Center for German and European Studies and Environmental Studies Program co-sponsored an online event featuring Professor Gerrit Lohmann.

Professor Lohmann is of the Working Group Paleoclimate Dynamics at the Alfred Wegner Institute and a Professor of Physics of the Climate System at the University of Bremen. Lohmann has published over 300 articles in international journals in the field of climate modeling, data interpretation and scientific discoveries.

Joining Professor Lohmann was his team of students all conducting research in different areas of climate science. According to the Brandeis Center for German and European Studies, Max Maschke is a master student of physics at Technische Universität Braunschweig. Paula Hainz studies “environmental sciences, also known as Geoecology” at Technische Universität Braunschweig. Leon Focks is a master student studying chemistry at the University of Münster and is currently at the McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. Alexa Beaucamp is a master student in science pursuing an Erasmus double degree in sustainable forest and natrue management at the Universities of Copenhagen and Göttingen focusing on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Lukas Kalvoda is a master student enrolled in the Elite Masters in Science program in theoretical and mathematical physics at Ludwig Maximilian University and the Technical University of Munich. Finally, Karolin Stiller is a master student studying mathematics at the Technical University of Berlin and the University of Bologna. 

To begin this webinar, Professor Lohmann began discussing the reason for the ups and downs we see in cold and warm climates. He states that “it’s due to the orbit. Basically, the geometry of the Earth’s movement around the sun and the tilt of the sun, so all of these parameters determine the up and down fluctuations between cold and warm climates.” Lohmann goes on to explain how in order to know more about climate change and its effects, we need a long-term data set and to know what happened before humans were active in the climate system. 

Lohmann proceeded to show graphs depicting greenhouse gas concentrations, our contribution to global warming in the last 200 years, tipping points and attribution. 

The next speaker, Lukas Kalvoda, began discussing he and his colleagues’ research and goals for their project. All of the students on this panel are from various disciplines within the natural sciences, and met through the biannual seminar of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. Kalvoda stated that his goals were to “encourage young people like us to consider and pursue climate science.” 

Some of their research questions look toward: how can you become a climate scientist? What research pathways are there? What are scientists’ opinions and outlooks on current challenges? Much of their research conducts interviews with leading climate scientists of various backgrounds, in order to obtain a variety of data outcomes. 

The final speaker, Max Maschke, touched on new ways to view our climate and the work that climate scientists do. He posed the question of: “What new approaches are climate modelers working on?” He then went into discussing the differences between a complex and a conceptual model, and how complex models are more detailed than conceptual models, but are much harder to interpret. 

If you want to learn more about Professor Lohmann, his team of students, or the research they conduct, you can visit his website and publication site for more information.

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