Conference on climate change research in Jena

From September 13 to 19, 2009, more than 500 scientists from all over the world met in Jena for the 8th International Carbon Dioxide Conference to discuss the most recent results of climate change and carbon cycle research. This year, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry organized the conference, which has taken place every four years since 1981.

September 08, 2009

High precision measurements of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration were initiated at the Mauna Loa (Hawaii) and the south pole more than 50 years ago, documenting the steady rise of this greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is considered to be the main cause for global change - the consequences of which can already be seen on the regional and global level.

Since then, the scientific interest in the analysis of the global carbon cycle and its human-induced changes has grown exponentially. Global research on the carbon cycle has been further intensified by the acknowledgment of carbon dioxide as the main contributor to present and future warming of the Earth’s climate by the International Panel on Global Change, which in turn led to international initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions like the Kyoto protocol.

During the conference in Jena, researchers from a variety of disciplines discussed recent and future changes in the atmospheric CO2 concentration and the role of fossil fuel emissions, the advances in developing measurement techniques and climate models as well as regional studies and understanding the fundamental processes involved.

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry plays an important role in international climate change research - it deals for example with the analysis of feedback mechanisms between global biogeochemical cycles and the climate system. High precision measurement instruments are used to detect concentration changes of trace gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, oxygen and hydrogen in the atmosphere. The measurement results yield information concerning their release on the Earth’s surface, e.g. during combustion processes. Further analyses provide the basis to determine the global carbon balances for the terrestrial biosphere and the ocean. The enhancement of existing computer models via the integration of laboratory and field research results as well as past and present observational data aims at creating reliable climate simulations for the future.

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