German-Californian commitment for the Earth

Five Max Planck Institutes and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of San Diego cooperate to explore changes in the Earth system

July 09, 2012

`It never rains in Southern California` is the title of a famous song by Albert Hammond. Whether even more regions in the world must face a future with less rain and how the Earth system will change, are central topics of a new research collaboration. On June 8th, 2012, five Max Planck Institutes, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) and the Department of Physics at the University of San Diego (UCSD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for long-term cooperation within the Earth system science.

Tony Haymet, Direktor des Scripps Instituts für Ozeanografie, Prof. Dr. Meinrat O. Andreae, Direktor am Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie und Prof. Dr. Paul Yu, Vizekanzler der Forschungsinitiativen der Universität San Diego unterzeichnen die deutsch-kalifornische Kooperationsvereinbarung SPOCES.

Tony Haymet, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Meinrat O. Andreae, director of the Biogeochemistry Department at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, and Paul Yu, Associate Vice Chancellor for UCSD Research Initiatives participated in the official signing of the SPOCES cooperation agreement in San Diego. SPOCES stands for SIO / UCSD Max Planck Program for Observing the Changing Earth System.

“We are changing the world with increasing speed, so it is time to create synergies in research. We will therefore coordinate our research programs,” said Andreae, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry, for Chemistry, for Meteorology, for Dynamics and Self-Organization and for Marine Microbiology. Andreae is also spokesperson of the Earth System Research Partnership of the Max Planck Society.

“This signing formalizes the ongoing and future collaboration of Scripps and the Max Planck Institutes in Earth sciences,” said Lynn Russell. “The combined expertise of both institutions will provide a new path forward to understanding and addressing the complex multidisciplinary problems in climate science.”

The atmospheric chemist at Scripps Oceanography was instrumental in bringing scientists from both institutions together to discuss and formalize this collaboration.

Susan Trumbore, director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, expects more exchanges among young researchers. “Training will be at the center of our collaboration. Already this fall, some students and lecturers from San Diego will be participating in a course in Germany,” said the geochemist.

“The rich experience of scientists at the SIO in observing atmosphere and ocean circulations, especially over the Pacific, greatly complements the emphasis on Earth System Modeling at our institute“, added Bjorn Stevens, director at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. “We anticipate that this program will provide access for researchers on both continents to some of the most advanced tools available, and the greatest breadth of expertise possible, for understanding our changing climate.”

The German-Californian research agreement SPOCES is based on a long-term cooperation between the institutions, for example in climate studies in the Indian Ocean, and covers the following topics among others:

• The long-term monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric observations of hot-spots of the global change, such as Siberia or the Amazon region.

• The investigation of processes and properties of aerosols and clouds

• The influence of the South Asian Monsoon on atmospheric chemistry and climate

The scientists will not only examine the atmosphere, but all areas of the earth including the oceans and the polar ice. Besides sharing scientific equipment, joint seminars and symposia will be offered, and scientists will be exchanged. Graduate students and postdoctoral scientists of the Max Planck Institutes can apply soon for a research stay in California. Contact persons are the program coordinators Russell and Andreae.

The activities of the SPOCES program will be financed by the participating organizations.

About the Earth System Science Partnership

 The Partnership Earth System Research (ESRP) pools research excellence across disciplines to understand how the Earth functions as a complex system and to improve the predictability of the effects of human actions. It encompasses the three Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Chemistry in Mainz and Meteorology in Hamburg. Over the last century, significant changes in climate, air quality, biodiversity, and water availability occurred. More and potentially more rapid changes are predicted. To find solutions for the challenges these changes pose, the ESRP studies the complex interactions and feedbacks of land, ocean, atmosphere, biosphere and humans in the field, the lab and through models.

About Scripps Institution of Oceanography

 Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,400, and annual expenditures of approximately $170 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates robotic networks, and one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life through exhibits and programming for more than 415,000 visitors each year.

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