Weekly Seminar 2022

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.



The Make Our Planet Great Again seminars in 2022 :

  • 10.01.2022 – Christopher Cantrell
    Photochemistry in Interacting Urban and Rural Air Masses
    The composition and chemistry of urban air has been studied for many decades. In the last 20 to 30 years, significant progress has been made in reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NO). Reductions in the abundance of secondary compounds, though, have been more elusive. The ACROSS (Atmospheric ChemistRy Of the Suburban foreSt) project is a framework to guide research to definitively improve understanding of the impacts of mixing urban and biogenic air masses on the oxidation of atmospheric VOCs. A highlight of ACROSS is an intensive, multi-platform measurement campaign in the summer of 2022. It will use instruments staged on an airborne platform, a tower in the Rambouillet Forest near Paris, and other ground sites. The data collected from this campaign will be analyzed and studied to extract information about tropospheric oxidation chemistry generally, but specifically on changes observed in the situation of mixed urban and biogenic air masses.
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  • 17.01.2022Henry Wu
    Ocean acidification crisis and global warming observations from tropical corals

    Human induced increases in atmospheric CO2 levels are warming the Earth’s ocean and also increasing the acidity of our shallow marine environments. This process, known as ocean acidification (OA), is caused by the absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the oceans and is threatening the ability of calcifying organisms to build their calcium carbonate skeletons. Our current understanding of the changes caused by OA in the tropical oceans is severely limited due to the lack of reliable long-term seawater pH monitoring and the difficulty in reconstructing past changes in pH and ocean chemistry in these remote environments. This project uses techniques to reconstruct past seawater conditions from long-living corals to observe the evolution of pH and carbonate chemistry in our tropical oceans. Improved multi-proxy techniques are also applied to observe sea surface temperature and hydroclimate changes over the past few hundred years to provide a historical context to our current climate crisis.
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  • 24.01.2022 – Alessandro Forte
    How forces inside the solid Earth directly influence changing sea levels on multiple time spams
    Forces inside our planet drive horizontal movements of continents and ocean basins. These movements and their consequences (e.g. earthquakes, volcanism) are manifestations of “plate tectonics”, a process driven by global movements inside the rocky mantle of the Earth that resembles a form of thermal convection in a very viscous fluid. While plate tectonics is generally regarded as a 2D process involving horizontal crustal movements, it is really a 3D process. The internal forces driving horizontal motions also drive vertical displacements of the crust that are called “dynamic topography”. I will discuss the key role that dynamic topography plays in driving sea level changes. In particular, I explore how sea level highstands recorded during warm periods, notably Pleistocene interglaciations and the Mid Pliocene are strongly affected by dynamic topography. The study of geological sea level markers during these warm periods yields key insights on the vulnerability of polar ice masses.
  • 31.01.2022 – Redouane Lguensat
    History Matching for the tuning of climate models: Lessons from the L96 model
    In the talk I’ll present a tool from the Uncertainty Quantification community that started recently to draw attention in climate modeling: History Matching also referred to as «Iterative Refocussing». The core idea of History Matching is to run several simulations with different set of parameters and then use observed data to rule-out any parameter settings which are “implausible”. Since climate simulation models are computationally heavy and do not allow testing every possible parameter setting, we employ an emulator that can be a cheap and accurate replacement. Here a machine learning algorithm, namely, Gaussian Process Regression is used for the emulating step. History Matching is then a good example where the recent advances in machine learning can be of high interest to climate modeling. I will show some results using History Matching on a toy model: the two-layer Lorenz96, and share some findings about the challenges and opportunities of using this technique.
  • 07.02.2022 – Alessandra Giannini 
    Climate change in the Sahel: how might physical insight guide adaptation?
    Understanding of the processes of oceanic influence that shape the climate of the African Sahel has advanced significantly in the last 20 years. A single, simple argument, independent of time scale, explains the past climatic change that manifested in the recurrence of drought in the 1970s and 1980s, and accounts for the year-to-year predictability that is realized in seasonal-to-interannual climate prediction. The motivation for this approach to studying climate variability and change, reminiscent of the “storylines” approach in discussions of climate change, is the conviction that physical insight is critical to translating scientific knowledge into practice. I propose that connecting scientific insight with the intuition that comes from lived experience provides an entry point that fosters the exchange between producer and user of climate information, and may ultimately facilitate the proactive adoption of strategies to adapt to climate change.
  • 12.02.2022 – Alexey Fedorov
    The Atlantic ocean meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and climate change
    The Atlantic meridional overrunning circulation or AMOC – one of the central components of ocean general circulation – is a complex system of currents that includes the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current, which transport warm subtropical waters to higher latitudes where they sink and then spread through the deep ocean. The AMOC modulates the climate of Europe and North America and has far reaching global impacts. It is generally expected that the AMOC will weaken or even collapse with the future climate change, which is a major concern. However, the rates, magnitude and timing of this weakening vary greatly across global climate models as different factors affect the AMOC dynamics. In this project we use global climate models to study in detail the key mechanisms that control the rates of AMOC slowdown and investigate how the future AMOC weakening could affect climate.
  • 21.02.2022 – Christina Richards
    Genomics of plant invasion
    Understanding how organisms can respond at different time scales is an essential component of deciphering the impact and long-term consequences of global change. Genomics tools can provide information on the molecular mechanisms underlying response in a broad array of wild organisms and biologically relevant conditions. Further, we now know that non-genetic effects can result in heritable, novel phenotypes even without variation in DNA sequence and could therefore provide an unappreciated source of response. We use reduced a variety of sequencing approaches to explore the potential role of genetic and epigenetic processes in natural and controlled studies of the invasive Japanese knotweed. We use resources developed in model plant species research to inform our findings in these invasive plants. Combined, our studies will enhance our understanding of how plants respond to environment on different time scales, and become invasive.
  • 28.02.2022 – Matthias Tesche
    Estimarting the climate impact of aerosol-cloud interactions from satellite observations
    The effect of aerosols on the properties and life time of clouds and the resulting changes in cloud radiative forcing still pose one of the largest sources of uncertainty in our understanding of climate change. Aerosol particles are needed of cloud formation. They can also modulate cloud glaciation and precipitation formation. Spaceborne measurements provide us with the best spatial coverage of multiple cloud regimes. However, past studies were based mostly on snapshot observations. In addition, unsuitable parameters were used to represent atmospheric aerosols in such studies. This MOPGA project combines observations from geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites with novel methodologies to assess cloud development and to estimate the concentration of those aerosols that are relevant for cloud formation and rapid adjustments. The talk will present the methods developed within the MOPGA project PACIFIC, show first applications, and lay out the work ahead.
  • 07.03.2022 – Maria Apergi
    An energy justice index for the energy transition in the Global South
    In order to avoid dangerous climate change and to satisfy the global energy needs the world needs to transform the energy systems. The hopes for the low-carbon energy transition are especially high in countries of the Global South to provide clean and affordable energy to propel development. Yet, while the energy transition provides opportunities, it also raises questions on how to ensure that the energy transition is just and to avoid creating new inequalities. Energy justice as an analytical framework differentiates between distributive, recognitional, and procedural justice, thus taking into account social and development objectives such as affordability and accessibility of energy, the inclusion of marginalised parts of society, as well as broader community involvement and participation. Though much important conceptual and qualitative work has been done, what has been lacking so far is a tool to quantitatively measure the degree to which the energy transition lives up to the imperative of energy justice, and beyond the much-studied developed world. We therefore propose an energy justice index that reflects its different dimensions. We use a combination of literature review and experts’ interviews to design the index and apply it to select countries from Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the MENA region, and Latin America.
  • 14.03.2022 – Jhan-Carlo Espinoza
    Impacts of climate-vegetation changes on the hydrological cycle of the Amazon-Andes transition Region
    The main goal of the AMANECER project is to better understand how global warming and Amazon deforestation could affect the regional water cycle. Our firs studies documented major biophysical transition in southern Amazon, involving deforestation and changes in rainfall regime. Using numerical simulations, we analyzed the large-scale changes in atmospheric circulation according to a deforestation scenario in Amazonia. At large scale our analyses suggest that Amazon deforestation may be related to alterations in the regional Hadley and Walker cells. Results from high-resolution climate simulation (using the WRF model up to 1km-1h), show that moisture flux and precipitation in the Amazon-Andes transition zones are highly dependent of the land use conditions in the Amazon lowland. Compared to a no-deforested Amazon scenario, precipitation in the Amazon-Andes transition zone diminish in 20%-30%.
  • 21.03.2022 – Ignacio Palomo
    Nature-based adaptation to climate change in the Alps
    Climate change impacts demand adaptation actions, especially in mountain social-ecological systems, the climate change sentinels. Nature-based solutions (NbS) are a promising option to adapt to climate change and provide multiple co-benefits for nature and people. In the project “Pathways of Transformation in the Alps” (PORTAL), we have created the first inventory of NbS to climate change adaptation in the alps. Our results show a miss-match between the spatial distribution of NbS and the distribution of several future climate change hazards. Moreover, the distribution of NbS doesn’t fit with areas of high ecosystem services vulnerability, defined by the ecosystem services supply-demand ratios. Also, we have found that if incorrectly designed and implemented, NbS could lead to several trade-offs with different targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. Next, we will model the co-benefits of NbS and design future transformative scenarios of NbS upscaling.
  • 28.03.2022 – Rainer Kiko
    Oceanic Oxygen Minimum Zones: Death zone and refuge
    Oceanic oxygen minimum zones are mainly found on the western coasts of the continents. Here, cold, nutrient-rich water reaches the sea surface and leads to increased plankton activity. As soon as this plankton biomass dies off, it sinks to depths and is remineralized there, a process that consumes oxygen. Since the oxygen supply at medium depths cannot completely compensate for this consumption, oxygen minimum zones with partially oxygen-free areas form here. For many organisms, this zone is taboo, while others seek shelter here. Due to their high productivity, oxygen minimum zones are also regions with high fishing yields. In his presentation, Dr Kiko will present these relationships in more detail and discuss the influence of global change on the extent of these zones and their importance in the Earth system.
  • 04.04.2022 – Giuliano Giambastiani
    Metal-Free Catalysts Development for Renewable Energy Processes
    There is a great attention from the whole scientific community on the development of new sustainable protocols and methodologies for the exploitation of renewable resources aimed at replacing fossil fuels for the production of clean energy and “commodities”. Renewable resources are practically infinite, but the raw materials needed to prepare new devices or new catalysts able to convert the renewable flow are limited. Playing with complex carbon nanostructures and tuning their chemical and electronic surface properties provide metal-free networks with unique performance in key (electro)catalytic processes at the heart of renewable energy technology. The contribution will offer a new perspective on the potentiality of metal-free catalysts in challenging processes (i.e. CO2RR, ORR, Superclaus H2S oxidation and alkene-to-alkane DDH reaction) with respect to classical metal-based systems of the state-of-the-art.
  • 11.04.2022 – Orestes Rivada Wheelaghan
    Molecular means towards Carbon Dioxide Reduction
    Molecular electrocatalysis are experiencing a renewed interest since it can contribute to sustainable and energy–efficient redox chemical transformations including those involved in energy storage application such as Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide Reduction Reaction (eCO2RR). Here we will present the correlation of remote interactions between a molecular MnI-complex and different alkali cations with redox potential tuning and its impact towards eCO2RR. Moreover, we present the electrocatalytic activity of a dinuclear cobalt complex towards carbon dioxide transformation to carbon monoxide in the presence of Brönsted acids. Chemical, electrochemical and spectroelectrochemical studies indicate a paired behavior of the cobalt centers, identifying CO–containing reduced dicobalt complexes that results from the electroreduction of CO2. Electrocatalytic studies revealed single–site mechanism with up to 94 % selectivity towards CO with just 0.39 V overpotential.