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About Topic 2


Topic 2 will advance the understanding of past, present and future changes of the climate system from an ocean and cryosphere perspective by closing critical knowledge gaps related to warming climates, variability and extremes as well as sea level change for the benefit of society.

Our focus:

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane, which are currently by far the highest for at least 800,000 years as a result of anthropogenic influence, is strongly affecting the ocean and cryosphere. We focus on natural and anthropogenically-induced variability as well as on feedbacks in the coupled Earth system via observations, data analyses and comprehensive modeling. Essential are furthermore reconstructions of the past which bring our current changes into the long-term perspective.

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Recent Highlights

In future the intensity of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current could increase, accelerating climate change

Antarctic Circumpolar Current Flows More Rapidly in Warm Phases

Our plan­et’s strongest ocean cur­rent, which cir­cu­lates around Ant­arc­tica, plays a ma­jor role in de­term­in­ing the trans­port of heat, salt and nu­tri­ents in the ocean. An in­ter­na­tional re­search team led by the Al­fred We­gener In­sti­tute has now eval­u­ated sed­i­ment samples from the Drake Pas­sage. Their find­ings: dur­ing the last in­ter­gla­cial period, the wa­ter flowed more rap­idly than it does today. This could be a blue­print for the fu­ture and have global con­sequences. For ex­ample, the South­ern Ocean’s ca­pa­city to ab­sorb CO2 could de­crease, which would in turn in­tensify cli­mate change.


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