The workng group investigate the change of the earth system understand climate risks and reduce uncertainties in regional predictions and projections of extreme weather and climate events.

Our research

enlarge the image: The forest in the High Tatras after the storm and the heat. Photo: Uwe Päsler
The motivation of the research is to reduce uncertainties in regional predictions and projections of extreme weather and climate events. High Tatras after hurricane Kirill. Photo: Uwe Päsler

The motivation of our research is to understand climate risks and reduce uncertainties in regional predictions and projections of extreme weather and climate events. This requires an improved causal understanding of the physical drivers and consequences of extreme events. Our research includes several sub-aspects:

One goal is to identify relevant extreme events and trends that have strong environmental and societal impacts, and to understand the contribution of humans activities in these. For example, we study heat waves in Europe, extreme cold spells in the US, or precipitation and droughts in the Mediterranean region.

One focus is better to understand the underlying large-scale physical drivers and causal mechanisms of extreme events and to quantify these so-called teleconnections. In particular, we are researching the stratospheric polar vortex, the global impacts of Arctic sea ice retreat, and how tropical and extratropical teleconnections interact to drive extreme weather.

Another key research focus is to use knowledge of these causal drivers to make better predictions about extreme events and to quantify and communicate existing uncertainties (e.g., through storylines). In doing so we consider sub-seasonal and seasonal time scales, decadal forecasts, as well as longer-term climate projections.

We use a wide range of data and methods and combine 'classical' physical methods with data-based algorithms and statistical methods from causal inference.

Current research projects

Arctic Amplification: Climate Relevant Atmospheric and Surface Processes, And Feedback Mechanisms

Funding: German Research Council

Project period: 01.01.2020 – 31.12.2023

Planet earth has warmed on average by 0.87 K over the past 150 years. In the Arctic, the warming is much larger, which became most prominent over the last decades. Currently, the Arctic warming exceeds the increase of near-surface air temperature in the mid-latitudes by about 2 K. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as Arctic amplification.

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enlarge the image: The research aircraft Polar 5 flies over the research vessel Polarstern during a stopover on Spitsbergen (2015). Photo: Alfred Wegener Institute / Thomas Krumpen (CC-BY 4.0)
The research aircraft Polar 5 together with the research vessel Polarstern near Longyearbyen /Svalbard. Photo: Alfred Wegener Institute / Thomas Krumpen (CC-BY 4.0)


Funding: European Union

Period: 01/04/2024 -– 31/03/2028

Team: Dr. Julianna Carvalho Oliveira, JP Dr. Marlene Kretschmer

The climate system is changing rapidly and some regions have seen increases in extremes beyond what is expected from climate model simulations. To support targeted climate adaptation strategies, EXPECT will enable trustworthy assessments and predictions of regional climate change including extremes by developing a prototype operational capability for integrated attribution and prediction of climate. This ambitious goal is closely aligned with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Lighthouse Activity on Explaining and Predicting Earth System Change.


  1. EXPECT will identify and quantify the mechanisms by which physical processes govern regional climatic changes, including extremes, on inter-annual to multi-decadal time scales. It will do so by exploiting newly available climate simulations and Earth Observations, and by combining machine learning with physical methods. The research will target fundamental knowledge gaps related to atmospheric circulation and land-atmosphere interactions, which represent major limitations in current climate predictions and projections, and in particular in understanding changes in European summer extremes.
  2. To underpin the research, and benefitting the wider research community, EXPECT will develop tools to efficiently analyse a variety of large data sets in combination that are hosted in different repositories across institutions. This will facilitate the exploitation of recent investments into high-resolution climate models and Earth Observation data.
  3. EXPECT will further build data science capacity for the scientifically robust, efficient and reproducible analysis of the massive data assets, including novel machine learning approaches, and provide training for the climate science community and the next generation of researchers in particular.
  4. EXPECT will thus deliver significant scientific and technological advances for society and the climate science community that will last well beyond the project, in support of WCRP’s strategic objectives.

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