Weekly Seminar 2021

The “Make Our Planet Great Again” program is a French – German initiative to foster climate change research and to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Within the “Make Our Planet Great Again” program, researchers from all over the world work together to improve Earth system observations, to detect impacts and suggest strategies to mitigate and adapt to Climate change and to find new solutions for the Energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources.

The Make Our Planet Great Again seminar series takes place on Mondays from 16:00 to 17:00 Paris/Berlin time. The seminar series is an open event at which the Make Our Planet Great Again Laureates inform about the latest developments in their research area.

Please join us to engage in climate change research and interact with the Make Our Planet Great Again researchers by registering for this open seminar series at:



The Make Our Planet Great Again seminars in 2021:

  • 06.09.2021 – 16:00
    Thomas Lauvaux
    (Laboratoire des sciences du climat et de l’environnement, Saclay)
    Are cities on track to net-zero emissions? The next generation of greenhouse gas information systems.
    Metropolitan areas represent a large fraction of the global fossil fuel emissions. Supported by international consortiums, local governments play an active role in reducing GHG emissions at the local level, but tracking progress of mitigation actions is more tedious and more prone to systematic errors than previously thought. Atmospheric monitoring of GHG in conjunction with air quality networks brings a new source of information, more readily available and more comparable across cities than traditional inventory approaches. We present here the most recent successes and challenges over Paris, illustrated by the impact of two successive confinements in 2020, but also Mexico City, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis to track changes in urban emissions at various timescales. Watch the replay
  • 13.09.2021 – 16:00
    Louis Derry (Host institution: Institute de Physique du Globe, Paris)
    What’s in our water and why can it change with climate?
    A common observation is that the chemistry of stream waters varies with discharge, something that is observed both in event-driven small watersheds and the seasonal monsoon variations in large rivers. Isotopic tracers indicate that the reactive source of the solutes varies as well. These observations indicate that the flow paths and reaction networks vary with time and hydrologic conditions in the Critical Zone. To unravel this complex behavior we are using a new generation of hydrologic models that permits the estimation of the non-steady state transit time distributions in a watershed. We seek to couple this information with the chemical and isotopic information interpreted through reactive transport modeling. The constraints from the hydrologic, chemical and isotopic approaches can tell us about how and why water quality varies within a system and how this may change with change with hydrologic forcing under changing climate. Watch the replay
  • 20.09.2021 – 16:00
    Vincent Vadez (Host institution: Laboratoire Diversité – Adaptation – Développement, Montpellier)
    Turn off the tap! Plant traits that help to prepare for future climates
    Farming in the Sahel is risky because of water limitation. Climate change will only accentuate this constraint, which undermines food security in the region and impedes economic rural development. Harvests fail in dry conditions because the evaporative demand creates an atmospheric moisture stress. Genotypes adapted to these conditions exist and control water losses under high evaporative demand, possibly via hydraulic restrictions at the root system level. They save water and are more tolerant to water stress. Combining physiology, molecular biology, genetics and simulation modeling, we will decipher the mechanisms underlying tolerance, find their genetic basis, and predict where these traits would be the most beneficial. The end products of the project are a better understanding of tolerance mechanisms, their related genetic regions, a predictive knowledge of their effects across agro-ecological zones. These results will guide and feed the crop improvement programs of our partners. Watch the replay
  • 27.09.2021 – 16:00
    Anna Possner (Host institution: Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main)
    Southern Ocean clouds: why understand clouds where nobody lives?
    Around 40% of the time we observe shallow clouds covering the vast Southern Ocean which surrounds the Earth almost entirely uninterrupted by any land. Some of these clouds organise into distinct patterns, others contain not only liquid water, but a mixture of liquid drops and frozen crystals. All of them reflect a discernible amount of sunlight and act like a semi-transparent parasol shading the ocean surface beneath. We explore whether the composition of these clouds as well as their organisational state are interlinked and how these impact the parasols efficiency at cooling Earth’s surface in this remote region of the world. Watch the replay
  • 04.10.2021 – 16:00
    Barbara Ervens (Host institution: Institut de Chimie, Clermont Ferrand)
    Biological processes in the atmosphere: Effects on aerosol particles and clouds
    Aerosol particles can interact with solar radiation and – depending on their chemical composition – they can cool or warm our climate. In addition, they can act as condensation nuclei on which water vapor condenses to form cloud droplets. These latter aerosol-cloud interactions represent one of the largest uncertainties in our current estimate of climate change. Chemical and physical processes in cloud water can modify the properties of aerosol particles and therefore their ability to act as ‘cloud condensation nuclei. While they only comprise a small fraction of total aerosol particle loading, biological particles (e.g. bacteria, viruses, fungi) they exhibit unique properties and undergo biological modification processes that are currently not included in atmospheric models. In my presentation, I will discuss several of such processes and their model implementation, such as the biodegradation of organic compounds by bacteria in cloud water and cloud formation on biological particles. Watch the replay
  • 11.10.2021 – 16:00
    R Subramanian (Host institution: Observatoires des Sciences de l’Univers- Enveloppes Fluides de la Ville à l’Exobiologie (OSU-EFLUVE) / Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques, Créteil)
    You can’t manage what you don’t measure: Air quality in urban Sub-Saharan Africa
    Ambient air pollution is estimated to cause several hundred thousand deaths annually across Africa. Many African cities have very limited or no air quality monitoring infrastructure, hampering urban air quality management. The MOPGA project “Make Air Quality Great Again”, in collaboration with African, American, and Australian partners, has established AfriqAir, a transcontinental network of low-cost sensors and reference monitors. Over 50 devices have been deployed in Nairobi, Kigali, Accra, Abidjan, and other African cities. These sensors are calibrated to newly-deployed reference PM2.5, NO2, and O3 monitors in Abidjan, Accra, and Nairobi, and to existing monitors in Zamdela, Kigali, and Lamto. Local partnerships ensure that the sensors are well-maintained and deployed in locally-relevant sites. We are training local students and technicians to develop local capacity and ensure network sustainability. Results and learnings for future advancement will be shared in this seminar. Watch the replay.
  • 18.10.2021 – 16:00
    Lorie Hamelin (Host institution: Toulouse Biotechnology Institute (TBI), Toulouse)
    Sustainable transition towards a low fossil carbon economy in France
    Achieving the targets of the Paris Agreement requires leaving most fossil carbon resources in the ground, and even induce negative emissions. This implies using less carbon where possible (electricity-related services), and develop sustainable pathways to convert biomass- or atmospheric- carbon to hydrocarbons for the services that cannot be decarbonized. It also implies a more circular use of this carbon. This seminar will discuss the on-going results of the Cambioscop project ( where a variety of pathways allowing to supply, without fossil carbon, the services demanded by the French economy in 2050 are being built, assessed, and translated into an investment roadmap. Watch the replay.
  • 25.10.2021 – 16:00
    Chien Wang (Host institution: Laboratoire d’aérologie, Toulouse)
    Can we machine-learn the raindrop formation processes? (Speaker: Azusa Takeishi)
    Millimeter-sized raindrops in warm clouds form by condensation and numerous collisions of micrometer-sized cloud droplets. Due mainly to the complexity of the latter process among numerous droplets in various sizes, the rain formation processes are usually parametrized in climate models. This parameterization, however, is often a source of significant discrepancies among models, in terms of rainfall, cloud microphysics, and potentially resultant dynamical conditions as well. We utilize the machine-learning method to obtain a new parameterization that mimics the rain formation processes in a detailed bin model. Although the high computational cost makes it impractical to directly embed the bin model within climate models, this machine-learned parameterization enables the prediction of rain formation processes similar to the bin model. Watch the replay.
  • 08.11.2021 – 16:00
    Marion Carrier (Host institution: Centre de recherche en génie des procédés des solides divises, de l’énergie et de l’environnement, Albi)
    Biomass Fast Pyrolysis: Kinetics and Thermodynamics
    Large volumes of contaminated biomass considered as waste are available and not usefully used. Fast pyrolysis, a thermochemical process, is used to turn those solids into liquids that can be further upgraded to produce advanced liquid biofuels and high-value organics. Liquid yield and quality are dependent on biomass type and the temperature-time history. To ensure consistent production and high quality of those liquids, we propose to establish a dynamic model adaptable to the conversion of different biomasses including kinetics and thermodynamics aspects. A robust methodology on a commercial microreactor combining isoconversional and fitting methods has been developed to determine intrinsic chemical kinetics. Thermodynamics is currently apprehended to predict the vapor-liquid equilibrium of the liquified biomass. This global approach will be presented as a universal alternative to non-empirical models and the use of sophisticated microreactors to optimize pyrolysis.
  • 15.11.2021 – 16:00
    Philip Schulz (Host institution: Institut Photovoltaique d’Ile de France, Palaiseau)
    Beating the Terawatt Challenge: New Materials and Interfaces in Photovoltaics
    At the core of combating climate change lies the profound transformation of our energy system to reduce CO2 emissions. Solar panels, or more precisely photovoltaics (PV), i.e. the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity, became a primary technology to contribute towards this goal. In the past ten years, its growth rates are exceeding those of all competing technologies for power generation, and by the end of 2020 the installed cumulative capacity amounted to more than 750 GW. Today we ask: What does it take to further accelerate this growth and make PV our principal sustainable energy source on a global scale with tens of terawatt installed capacity? To this end, we are working on the next generation of PV panels that offer higher efficiencies at lower production costs. Key to unlocking this approach is the understanding of the fundamental chemistry and physics of novel hybrid materials that act as light absorbers, as well as tailoring the interfaces within the device. Watch the replay. 
  • 29.11.2021 – 16:00
    Ludmila Cojocaru (Host institution: Institut des Sciences Moléculaires, Université de Bordeaux)
    Intermittency of Sunlight, sustainable photo-supercapacitors for energy conversion-storage in a single device
    Power conversion efficiencies of solar cells depends on the fluctuation of the solar cells irradiation which represents one of the main limitations of this renewable energy resource. Integration of the solar cells with energy storage devices into single device may solve this problem because of the concomitant electricity storage. To construct such devices the supercapacitors (SCs) can be used as storable part because of their benefit from the cycling stability, good safety and simultaneous use of carbon plates as electrodes for SCs and counter-electrode of solar cell based on perovskite absorber. To obtain carbon materials for both devices, biomass waste can be used as a renewable source which can help us to reduce the non-sustainable use of fossil carbon deposit. In our work, coconut shell has been selected as biomass precursors to obtain carbonaceous materials and then applied as electrodes for SC and electrode for perovskite solar cells. Watch the replay. 
  • 06.12.2021 – 16:00
    James Clark (Host institution: Laboratoire des écosystèmes et des sociétés en montagne, Grenoble)
    Global tree fecundity and its contribution to twenty-first century forests
    The composition and structure of twenty-first century forests will depend on the seed production needed for tree populations to keep pace with climate change. The decade-scale trends will depend on reproduction by trees of different species and size classes across shifting habitats. Anticipating future forests requires data and modeling approaches that can be used to quantify individual tree responses to climate change and how that translates to reproduction under novel conditions and at regional scales. To address these challenges, the Masting Inference and Forecasting (MASTIF) network, developed by the MOPGA project Forecasting Biodiversity Change (FORBIC), is allowing us to evaluate direct and indirect effects of climate change on reproduction of future forests. I discuss emerging insights from individual-scale processes such as demographic changes, to community consequences for mast-consuming wildlife, to global climate and soil controls on forest migration and resilience. Watch the replay.
  • 13.12.2021 – 16:00
    Frédéric Bouchard (Host institution: Laboratoire Géosciences Paris-Sud (GEOPS), Saclay)
    Lake-rich permafrost landscapes in Siberia: Critical places at critical times
    Central Yakutia (Siberia) hosts one of the thickest, ice-richest permafrost in the world. Nearly half of the landscape has been affected by permafrost thawing since the early Holocene (~ 10,000 years ago). Increased thawing has affected the region since the last decades, potentially fuelling carbon transfer to the atmosphere through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The main objective of the MOPGA project called « PErmafrost and Greenhouse gas dynamics in Siberia » (PEGS) is to characterize the spatial and temporal variations in GHG fluxes emitted by lakes formed by the thawing of ice-rich permafrost in Siberia. During this talk I will show that GHG and carbon cycle dynamics in Central Yakutia can be extremely variable in both space and time, both currently and on the long-term perspective (over the last millennia). Such insights from fieldwork-intensive studies, coupled with laboratory simulations, should help refining numerical models in order to predict future trends in permafrost evolution.
  • 20.12.2021 – 16:00
    Nuria Teixido (Host institution: Laboratoire d’Océanographie, Villefranche-sur-Mer)
    How global environmental change affects marine biodiversity
    In this talk, I will provide an overview of my current research made possible by the 4Oceans-“Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative, under which my colleagues and I have focused on physiological, ecological and adaptive responses of marine organisms to ocean warming and acidification. 4Oceans takes advantages of two “natural laboratories” to study the effects of global environmental change on organisms and ecosystems: (i) highly variable seasonal temperatures and extreme marine heatwaves in the Mediterranean Sea, and (ii) a series of naturally-occurring volcanic CO2 vents, which cause local acidification of seawater, used as a proxy for future acidification conditions. We conduct field observations and manipulative ecological experiments across several unique marine vent systems, which include various habitats and depths found off the coast of Ischia, Italy, a volcanic island just north of Naples. These natural CO2 systems capture the emergent effects of ocean acidification on entire ecosystem structure, function and interactions over long time scales. This talk will highlight case studies in which we combine: (i) coastal oceanography (including characterization of temperature regimes, water chemistry and pH variability) with (ii) ecological and physiological field surveys and laboratory experiments; (iii) a functional-trait based approach, where functional traits are defined as those traits that directly influence an organism’s performance; and (iv) development of ocean-based activities to attenuate acidification, assessing the potential for marine macrophytes to act as biogenic refugia. Watch the replay.