The atmosphere at a time in global change

The atmosphere is a Earth’s thin protective layer that shields us from harmful radiation, moderates temperature differences and redistributes energy, water, and pollutants: most all life depends on it. But this protective function of the atmosphere involves delicate balances and is susceptible to global changes of climate and land use. The primary drivers of climate change are the radiative effects of greenhouse gases and of aerosols, which affect the composition of the atmosphere and its impact on all aspects of societal activities.

We are developing seamless observational and modeling capabilities to unravel the complex interactions between the atmosphere, the land surface, and the oceans under climate change. Our research focuses on changes in air quality – both globally and in urban areas,  the internal causes and effects of climate change feedbacks, and what kinds of weather and extremes we will have to prepare for the future. Progress in these areas is of topmost relevance for reliably assessing the state of the Earth system, and for predicting and projecting global change impacts on our future living conditions.

Our research follows a holistic approach. We aim at developing scale-crossing observational and modeling solutions for improved atmospheric predictions and regional climate projections at unprecedented resolution. We strive to observe, understand, and predict atmospheric phenomena and process chains from drivers to climate change impacts throughout all levels of the atmosphere, and especially in their interaction and feedbacks with the adjacent compartments, i.e.,land surface, biosphere, cryosphere, oceans, and near-Earth space. Our work makes it possible to assess the physical, chemical, and socio-ecological consequences of atmospheric change and its ramifications on climate, extreme weather, and land ecosystem functioning.

As a result, we will substantially improve the scientific knowledge base for responding to societal challenges such as global warming, growing world population, land use changes, air quality improvement, water availability, and transformation of the energy and mobility systems. Our observational and modeling activities in the atmosphere and climate fields will establish the scientific basis of sustainable development strategies for the benefit of society, ecosystems, and climate mitigation and adaptation, in conjunction with economic risk reduction.

Print Version

“We use high-resolution regional climate projections to produce predictions of the state of the atmosphere in terms of its interaction with land ecosystems, oceans, and ice. In doing so, we rely on novel observational and modeling techniques in order to assess how effective climate change adaptation measures are and which mitigation strategies are particularly promising.”

Hans Peter Schmid, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology