A team of physical geographers and hydrogeologists at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have submitted a successful application for follow-up funding to the DFG for an innovative research project on climate change that is based on the island of Corsica. They have been awarded 1 million euros to cover personnel and material costs. In order to be able to analyse the sensitivity of past and future climate changes to carbon dioxide and other factors that influence the climate, ‘CorsicArchive’ combines investigations into the aspects of tree ecology, hydrology and climatology on Corsica – in terms of approach and scientific concept, this is something completely new.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing mankind.The Mediterranean itself is one of the regions that are showing the clearest signs of being affected by climate change; its ecosystems are being threatened by the more frequent heat spells and drought periods.
It is thus no coincidence that, in order to assess and gain a better understanding of past and present climate scenarios, the researchers from the Institute of Geography and the GeoZentrum Nordbayern of FAU selected the island of Corsica to carry out their work in collaboration with their colleagues from Marburg and Corsica. Of particular interest to them are Pinus nigra, the Austrian or black pine, and Pinus pinaster, the maritime or cluster pine, two types of pine trees that grow at different altitudes on the island.
‘Through the CorsicArchive project, we hope to gain information that will fill a major gap in our knowledge of the natural fluctuations of the climate in the western Mediterranean during the past millennium,’ explains Prof. Dr. Achim Bräuning, Chair of Physical Geography at FAU’s Institute of Geography.
‘At the same time, we are also learning more about the effects of climate extremes in the Mediterranean at different altitudes. This interdisciplinary collaboration between climate researchers, hydrologists and biogeographers makes it possible to establish the correlations between atmospheric processes and physiological plant reactions. This will provide new insights that will help us analyse substance turnover in the water cycle.’
The methodology – a tried and tested technology but a new approach
The annual growth rings of old trees, such as those of the species of pine trees that are native to Corsica, represent a kind of ‘long-term memory’ that provides interesting information on the effect of climatic extremes on forest ecosystems. Hence, wider rings are evidence of wet years, while narrower rings document dry periods with low growth.
The current investigations of precipitation, ground and soil water and the measurements of climatic factors at different altitudes being undertaken by the researchers from Erlangen are designed not only to provide data on past climate changes but also the changes to climate that are currently occurring and the possible consequences of these for the water supply in forests.
The new approach being taken in CorsicArchive combines the already established methodology of measuring the distribution of isotopes of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen with the determination of various current climatic variables in trees and waters. In various sites on Corsica, wood core samples from trees and samples of groundwater are taken, rainwater is collected, while climate stations have been installed to record information on air temperature and humidity, wind speed, solar radiation and any irregularities in the lower atmosphere. In the laboratory in Erlangen, the harvested materials are then subjected to geochemical analyses and evaluated. On the basis of the determined isotope signatures – element fingerprints as it were – the researchers can then draw conclusions as to what changes have happened and are happening to the climate.
Major relevance to climate research
This interdisciplinary co-operation between the various research fields of biogeography, hydrogeology and climatology, and the combination of the past and present, are contributing to the development of innovative approaches in climate research. When it comes to ongoing climate change, it is important to understand both the past and present processes in order to make an accurate assessment of what is likely to happen in future. An important undertaking.
Thanks to the information it is gathering, CorsicArchive can also provide important recommendations for the forestry industry and tourism of the island. It is possible, for example, to work out how changes to the climate may impinge on the productivity of forest ecosystems. If the long-term trend is towards global warming and more frequent drought, for example, it would be advisable to move the pine growing areas away from the coast and towards higher regions of the island. Then there are the ski resorts of Val d’Ese and Ghisoni-Capanelle – not something one would necessarily expect to find on Corsica – and the associated tourism. Global warming would have consequences that are economically significant here and would impact on future tourism on the island.
Prof. Dr. Achim Bräuning
Phone: +49 9131 85 29372
Dr. Susanne Langer | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice
24.04.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Climate change in a warmer-than-modern world: New findings of Kiel Researchers
24.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Information Technology