How do the top researchers of the future plan to confront the greatest scientific, ecological and political challenges facing planet Earth and its inhabitants? This is the question being addressed at the first round table meeting on “Climate System Research – Status and Perspective” held by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), taking place in Hamburg this week from Tuesday until Friday.
Over 30 highly qualified young scientists from Japan and Germany accepted the invitation from these research funding organisations to debate the topic of global climate change and its consequences. As well as arriving at new scientific insights, they will also discuss the potential for joint research projects in the fight against global warming.
Other topics on the agenda of the meeting, which lasts until 18 January, are short-term climate fluctuations and long-term climate change, as well as the scientific simulation of climate change. One of the key focal points of the discussions and workshops, however, will be on climate modelling. Although the ability to forecast the weather has continually improved and the potential applications of climate models have multiplied over the years, the existing models quickly reach their limits in many respects. This is why the young Japanese and German researchers want to discuss the demands on the next generation of climate models and the first steps that are required for their development at the meeting.
“Climate change is, without a doubt, one of the most urgent topics, if not the most urgent topic currently facing the scientific community. It also represents the great responsibility that the scientific community bears for the rest of society. Only research can create the foundations on which politicians and society can act,” said the President of the DFG, Professor Matthias Kleiner, outlining the importance of the topic selected by Germany’s largest research funding organisation and its Japanese counterpart for their first round table meeting. Japanese researchers have excelled in the field of research into climate change in recent years, as Professor Martin Claussen, the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and spokesman of KlimaCampus Hamburg, who is the host and German scientific coordinator of the meeting in Hamburg, emphasised.
“Japan is one of the leaders in the field of climate change research and has made a decisive contribution to pushing the development of climate models forwards, first and foremost with the ‘Earth Simulator’ in Yokohama, the world’s largest climate modelling computer,” said Claussen. One of the most powerful models is the high-resolution atmosphere-ocean coupled model developed by Professor Akimasa Sumi (Center for Climate System Research, University of Tokyo), who was the Japanese scientific coordinator of the JSPS-DFG meeting.
The meeting of Japanese and German researchers is taking place at KlimaCampus Hamburg. The KlimaCampus, in which several institutes and research groups from the University of Hamburg, the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, the Institute for Coastal Research operated by the GKSS Research Centre and the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ) are involved, is a spin-off of the Hamburg Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. The cluster of excellence Integrated Climate System Analysis and Prediction, approved under the Excellence Initiative by the German federal and state governments to promote science and research at German universities, has also been located there since October 2007.
There are also plans to follow up this round table meeting with further bilateral conferences between young Japanese and German scientists on other major scientific issues in the future. This idea was initiated by the President of the DFG, Matthias Kleiner, and the Director of the Bonn Office of the JSPS, which was established in1992, Professor Yasuo Tanaka. Both of the funding organisations hope that these bilateral symposia will lead to a deepening and intensification of research cooperation between Germany and Japan. The DFG intends to expand this cooperation over the coming years in other ways too, as its President emphasised on the occasion of the meeting in Hamburg: “It is time for us to strengthen our presence in Japan. Following the opening of the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion in Beijing and the DFG Offices in Washington, Moscow, New Delhi and New York, we therefore plan to open our next Liaison Office in Tokyo.”
Jutta Höhn | alfa
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