Climate research with China: BMBF funds projects in strategic project funding in climate science
Germany and China are intensifying their cooperation in climate research. This includes research in the natural sciences, economics and social sciences as well as the study of the effects of and options for adapting to climate change and innovations for climate protection.
As part of the long-standing scientific and technological cooperation between Germany and China, a deeper collaboration in climate research was agreed in 2018. The pooling of knowledge, experience and research infrastructures generates added value for both sides and enables important contributions to climate protection and sustainability.
In particular, the following areas are to be specifically investigated as starting points for cooperation and joint research collaborations are to be initiated:
- climate research and modelling in the natural sciences,
- economic and social science research on the impacts of climate change,
- Climate change adaptation research and technology (e.g. prediction and treatment of extreme weather conditions, adaptation technologies for water resources and relevant case studies),
- Climate research on the Tibet Plateau (third pole),
- Innovations for climate protection (short-term as well as medium- and long-term climate forecasting).
Five Sino-German collaborative projects have now been selected from an initial joint announcement in autumn 2019, which have been started on 1 June 2021 with a three-year duration. The collaborative projects cover different topics for climate protection that are expected to bring new insights to both countries:
- The DUNE project is investigating the development of dunes as an indicator of climate change in Central Asia. Due to their structure, dunes react quickly to changes in climatic parameters by changing their geomorphological shape. Among these climatic parameters, wind speed and humidity are particularly important, as they determine the activity, orientation and speed of movement of the dunes. Numerical dune models will be used in selected regions for a better understanding of the various climatic and non-climatic factors that influence dune shape and speed of movement. The study will benefit from information on dune movements and dune shapes already collected by the Chinese and German project partners during previous expeditions, as well as from remote sensing data.
- In the ACE project, the relationship between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes will be investigated. The focus is on abrupt changes and extremes in the Eurasian climate system in response to temporal fluctuations in Arctic sea ice. Observations show an accelerated decline of Arctic sea ice and a higher frequency of climate extremes in the mid-latitudes. Temporal and spatial characteristics of abrupt climate changes and extremes in the Holocene (12,000 years BC to present) are recorded. These characteristics can be used to generate a benchmark for the future trend of abrupt changes and extremes for Europe and Asia. Climate projections for the next 100 years can provide information on the possible future climate including abrupt changes and extremes for Germany and China by using the characteristics determined in the past as a benchmark for the future trend.
- Extreme events such as storm surges and floods caused by heavy rain repeatedly cause high economic damage, especially in urban agglomerations such as Shanghai and Shenzen, but also in Germany. In addition, extreme events such as hurricanes, heavy rainfall and high tidal ranges often occur simultaneously, leading to more severe flooding events and greater hazards. The MitRiskFlood project addresses these hazards. The aim is to develop resilient adaptation measures to address the increasing risk of flooding in urban areas due to climate change and rapidly changing socio-economic development. In this context, the Chinese coastal metropolises of Shanghai and Shenzhen serve as particularly suitable case studies for developing methods for deriving future flood risks based on the latest developments in climate, hydrology and socio-economic modelling.
- Water is also the focus of the Ice-TMP project: The lakes of the Tibetan and Mongolian plateaus and their role in the water cycle. The overall goal of the project is to build an international research network to fill knowledge gaps on ice-covered lakes. These are critical but so far poorly studied components of the hydrological and climatic system of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Mongolian Plateau. Detailed observational data on thermal and biogeochemical conditions under ice will be collected, existing lake parameterisations (representation of lakes in climate models) for climate models will be validated and improved, and future scenarios for seasonal ice cover fluctuations under ice will be developed.
- The ReHaDiCC project investigates the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. Half of the world's population lives on or near coasts and the marine ecosystem is an important food resource, which is reflected not least in the increasing number of aquaculture farms worldwide. As the consequences of climate change will be accompanied in the future by a partial loss of currently used agricultural land, the importance of marine resources will certainly increase in the future. The objectives of this project are to investigate the behavior of plankton communities and harmful algal blooms (HABs) under current changes in environmental conditions. HABs can severely affect the use of marine resources. Harmful dinoflagellates affect the marine ecosystem through so-called shellfish toxins, which are accumulated in shellfish and lead to poisoning symptoms in vertebrates after consumption of contaminated seafood. In addition, some microalgae produce fish toxins (ichthyotoxins) that attack the gills of fish and lead to increased fish mortality, causing ever greater damage to marine aquaculture.