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Research on Climate Change and Climate Change Mitigation

Greenhouse gases released by humans are causing the earth’s temperature to rise. As a consequence, we will almost certainly see an increase in extreme weather incidents such as severe storms, floods and periods of draught – this according to the report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. With the research aircraft HALO, we can now enter a new dimension of environment and climate research in Germany. So too is Zeppelin NT (new technology) underway in the name of climate research.

Research Aircraft HALO

HALO, a Gulfstream G550 business jet, was designed specifically for great altitudes and long flights. The combination of range, altitude, payload and comprehensive instrumentation make the airplane a one-of-a-kind research platform. With HALO, we will have the capacity to gather data on a continental scale for the first time: all regions, from the poles to the tropics and the remote realms of the pacific, can be can be covered by this research aircraft. The maximum altitude of over 15 kilometres also allows HALO to collect data from the lower stratosphere outside the tropics.  HALO is a joint initiative of German environment and climate research organizations. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Helmholtz Association, the Max Planck Society, the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, the Freistaates Bayern, the Research Centres of Jülich and Karlsruhe and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). Further information can be found here.

Zeppelin NT

Scientists from the Forschungszentrum Jülich are on board Zeppelin NT (new technology) to measure the impact of atmospheric chemicals on climate change. The flight is part of the EU climate research project PEGASOS. The results of the study are to provide a scientifically sound basis for Europe-wide air quality and climate protection measures. Findings will also be made available for global climate policies, as the IPCC is a project partner.
Further information regarding the PEGASOS project can be found here.

IPCC Special Report "Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation"

The IPCC Special Report concludes that climate change can be expected to lead to noticeable changes in extreme weather events across the world. The report makes it very clear that the risks of future extreme weather events can mainly be avoided at regional and local level. International efforts should focus on creating the right conditions for this. The BMBF already supports extensive programmes in the fields of climate research, climate impact research, and climate adaptation research.

Exploratory Studies on Climate Engineering

Are direct, large-scale technical interventions in the Earth’s radiation budget or carbon cycle potential solutions to global warming? Or should we avoid climate engineering for fear of possible incalculable side effects? An interdisciplinary team of experts has compiled the first comprehensive science-based report on the subject on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Entitled “Large-Scale Intentional Interventions into the Climate System? Assessing the Climate Engineering Debate,” the report was presented to State Secretary Dr. Georg Schütte in Berlin on 5 October 2011.

The researchers conducted a total of six exploratory studies from the point of view of various disciplines (natural sciences, international law, ethics, economics, social studies, and political studies). The overall report also includes a comprehensive review and evaluation.

The exploratory studies concluded that some climate engineering concepts could reduce the greenhouse gas effect and mitigate global warming, at least on paper. However, Professor Gernot Klepper of the Kiel Earth Institute, who coordinated the study, concludes that all of the proposals are likely to involve significant ecological risks and side effects, economic costs, and potential for social conflict.

The BMBF will contribute the studies to the international debate, including the work of the IPCC. On a national level, the findings are intended to enable a well-substantiated debate in politics and society. The studies are available for download at the Kiel Earth Institute.

IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources

The Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change (SRREN) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was presented in Germany on 16 May 2011.

The presentation of results by Dr Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of Working Group III of the IPCC, can be found here.


Humans have actively influenced the earth’s system since the industrial revolution. The release of greenhouse gases is causing the earth's temperature to rise. As a consequence, extreme weather incidents such as severe storms, floods and periods of draught are occurring more frequently. Based on extensive data gathered around the world, the report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reached a number of conclusions:

The earth's temperature has risen by an average of 0.74°C over the last 100 years. Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years since records began. Today’s atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases exceed by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years. Global warming and the rise of the sea level have accelerated, as have the melting of glaciers and polar caps. The sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8mm per year from 1961 to 2003 and at an average rate of about 3.1mm per year from 1993 to 2003.

The impending climatic changes make it necessary for us to cut our greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the consequences anticipated for the time beyond 2020 can be reduced or at least slowed down. The sooner and more ambitiously we set about cutting emissions, the higher the scientific probability that the consequences of climate change can be diminished. On 20 February 2007, the EU's environment ministers agreed to reduce CO2 emissions in the European Union to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by the year 2020. Germany's EU Presidency took on a pioneering role for Europe and the world.

However, even if greenhouse gas concentrations are stabilized until the year 2100, scientists agree that the world's climate beyond the 21st century will inevitably change. In particular, sea levels will continue to rise. We need to take measures to adapt to the consequences of climate change.

The BMBF has funded research on the climate system in recent years, but additional efforts are needed to reach the goals identified. The aim is to find practical strategies for action.

Ongoing measures

Medium-Term Climate Forecasts (MiKlip)

Planning horizons in business, politics and society often cover a period of about ten years. To meet this demand, there is a growing need for medium-term forecast to complement the existing system of short-term predictions and long-term climate scenarios. Under the MiKlip funding measure, a large number of German research institutions and universities are working on developing a model system that enables regional forecasts of expected changes in the climate and in extreme weather events over a period of up to ten years.

Regional Science Service Centres on Climate Change and Adapted Land Management in Africa

Although Africa is the continent with the lowest emission levels, climate change threatens to hit it particularly hard. Many international agreements call for greater efforts to help Africa deal with the consequences of climate change. More than elsewhere, people in Africa need sustainable land management to survive. The questions of what changes can be expected, what impact they will have on land use and water management, and what solutions can be offered are becoming ever more urgent. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is establishing two Regional Science Service Centres on Climate Change and Adapted Land Management in cooperation with partners from Southern and Western Africa.  The idea is not to set up German research centres which happen to be located in Africa, but to engage in equal cooperation with African partners in order to strengthen and integrate existing capabilities in the regions. Ten countries in Western Africa and five in Southern Africa are currently involved in building up the centres. They will focus on application-oriented research while also assuming an advisory function for public and private decision-makers in their respective region. One important aspect will be the qualification of young African researchers.

The Economics of Climate Change

As climate change takes hold, the debate about its economic effects is becoming more heated. We need to find reliable and viable approaches to estimate the costs, risks and opportunities associated with climate change and adaptation to climate change. They are an important basis for increasing the willingness of governments, companies and the general public to take and finance preparatory measures. Research in the field of climate economics looks into the effects of different forms of emissions and evaluates their economic, social, ecological and technological implications. It addresses the scope for action, needs and uncertainties and creates a quantitative basis for weighing up the different options and placing them in a global context. The new BMBF funding priority “The Economics of Climate Change” plays an important role in providing empirically sound and practical knowledge on how to deal with climate change. The funding priority departs from an economic perspective. The main aim is to support projects which are relevant to politics, geared towards practical applications, and can improve the basis for decision-making in politics, business and society.

Regional competition KLIMZUG

The BMBF launched “KLIMZUG – Sustainable Management of Climate Change in the Regions” to help regions prepare for climate change. Strong networks of companies, authorities and research institutions are being established in seven regions across Germany. The aim is to pool the strengths of the participating stakeholders in the areas of science, planning, technology, and business to develop innovative ways of dealing with climate change, adapt to climate trends and extreme weather events, and thus improve the region’s competitiveness.

Climate Service Center (CSC)

The Climate Service Center (CSC) was founded in Hamburg on 2 July 2009 as a new, complementary institution at the GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht, which is part of the Helmholtz Association. Its mission is to create links between climate researchers and the users of climate information. The CSC has close contacts to researchers as well as to existing providers of climate information. It is becoming a national service centre at which results of climate system research are pooled, prepared and made available so that they can be used in planning, decision-making and investment processes.

Completed research activities

Previous BMBF activities focused on fundamental issues in the areas of atmospheric and climate research:
  • The BMBF’s funding measure "klimazwei – research for climate protection and protection from climate change effects" under the Research for Sustainability (FONA) framework programme focused on developing practical strategies. Previous basic research on the climate system was supplemented by application-oriented aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation. "klimazwei" supported research projects that focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and on dealing with inevitable climate change (adaptation).
  • The Atmospheric Research Programme AFO2000 (concluded in 2004) focused on cross-cutting issues in the field of atmosphere system analysis. The results now allow more reliable weather and climate forecasts.
  • The German Climate Research Programme DEKLIM (concluded in 2005) aimed to improve climate modelling to further our understanding of the climate system and the way it can be influenced.  

Additional information

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Background Info

At you can find an overview of local climate related research and gain insight into the current state of knowledge. This platform is a BMBF funded cooperative project involving numerous German climate research institutes (in German language only).


© 02/17/2015 05:03 Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung