Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science



Atmospheric and climate science is essential for addressing several major environmental challenges including climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, air quality and water resources. The research of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science involves the study of weather phenomena, atmospheric composition and the climate system (including links to the cryosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere). The research is conducted through field studies, laboratory experiments and numerical models and is geared to bring about a better understanding and to improve predictive capabilities.

Research on Climate Physics

(group led by Prof. Reto Knutti)

The research group studies the changes in the global climate system caused by the growing emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. It uses numerical models of different complexity, from simple energy balance to three-dimensional coupled climate models that resolve the atmosphere, ocean, land, sea ice and their interactions. In particular, the focus of the research is on the simulation of scenarios for future climate change, the quantification of uncertainties in the climate response, and the development of methods to constrain important feedback processes in the climate system by comparing observations with model results.

Research on Atmospheric Physics

(group led by Prof. Ulrike Lohmann)

The research group focuses on interactions of tropospheric aerosols with water, ice and mixed-phase clouds. In order to understand which aerosol particles act as cloud condensation and Ice nuclei, laboratory studies of aerosol properties and ice nucleation are carried out. They are augmented by field programmes, which emphasize aerosol-cloud interactions.The modelling aspects include the advancement of theories and parameterizations of clouds and aerosols in physical models of different complexity and different scales and their validation with in-situ and remote sensing data. Another focus is on the interaction between climate and the cryosphere with emphasis on the numerical modelling of glaciers in a changing climate.

Research on Atmospheric Chemistry

(group led by Prof. Thomas Peter)

Physical and chemical processes of aerosols, clouds and trace gases affect atmospheric properties from regional air quality and health issues to the global climate. We are involved in three types of research and teaching activities: (1) Modelling of physical, chemical, radiative and transport properties of the troposphere and stratosphere as influenced by gas-aerosol-cloud interactions. (2) Laboratory experiments on the microphysics, thermodynamics, chemical and radiative properties of aerosols and on the formation mechanisms of clouds. (3) Field measurements of aerosol and cloud optical properties, ozone, NOx, CO and VOCs, especially focussing on the boundary layer and the tropopause region, including the investigation of longterm trends.

Research on Climate and Water Cycle

(group led by Prof. Christoph Schär)

Much of the climate system‘s complexity is due to its intimate interactions with the water cycle. In our research, we try to quantify the associated processes and their variability. We are using atmospheric and hydrological models on global to regional scales for process studies, weather forecasting purposes and climate simulations. We employ observational data sets to unravel the nature of the relevant interactions, and to detect variations and changes of the climate system. Many of our projects address major environmental and societal problems, such as climate change and extreme events. A special focus of our research is related to the weather and climate of the Alpine region.

Research on Land-Climate Dynamics

(group led by Prof. Sonia Seneviratne)

Land-climate interactions are among the most complex and least understood components of the climate system and significantly contribute to current uncertainties in climate modelling and understanding. This is due to the range of involved processes, the heterogeneity of land-surface characteristics, and, in particular, the lack of relevant long-term observations. Climate change further complicates their investigation due to shifts of climatic regimes and CO2 effects on plant physiology. The aim of our research group is to provide a comprehensive analysis of land-climate interactions, based on modelling on regional and global scales, data analysis, the development of new observations-based datasets, and field experiments.

Research on Atmospheric Dynamics

(group led by Prof. Heini Wernli)

The chaotic and complex atmospheric flow can lead to the development of high-impact weather systems, e.g., cyclones and fronts that produce heavy rain or snow. The evolution of these systems is governed by dry and moist dynamical processes and accompanied by coherent flow patterns. Research is conducted to better understand the genesis, structure and interaction of these systems, and to improve our predictive capabilities. This involves dynamically based diagnostic analyses of atmospheric data sets, prognostic simulations with numerical models of varying complexity, and a detailed observation and model-based investigation of stable water isotopes in atmospheric waters.

Center for Climate Systems Modeling (C2SM)

(group led by Dr. Isabelle Bey)

C2SM investigate the climate system and its components at various spatio-temporal scales ranging from regional to global, and from minutes to millennia.There is a large number of current projects in the frame of the Center, which aim at improving the understanding of the climate system in a broad sense.


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© 2014 ETH Zurich | Imprint | Disclaimer | 15 January 2014