Doctoral Conference: Junior Researchers Discuss Pros and Cons of the IPCC’s Climate Change Report


From 10–12 June 2014, the School of Integrated Climate System Sciences’ (SICSS) doctoral candidates held their annual conference in Lauenburg, Schleswig Holstein. The international junior researchers presented research matters from more than ten different academic disciplines at the “Zündholzfabrik,” this year’s conference venue. The conference aimed to stimulate discussions about the climate report’s pros and cons among the attending young researchers and eminent climate experts.

Forty-five SICSS doctoral candidates came together in Lauenburg on the Elbe waterfront—a great opportunity for the twenty newcomers in their midst to get to know their colleagues and research environment.
Science speed dating: Participants got three minutes to explain their current research topic to the person opposite them before switching to their next science date.

“Our annual conference offers doctoral candidates at the SICSS a forum,” says Dr. Ingo Harms, coordinator of the graduate school that forms part of the Cluster of Excellence CliSAP. “Interdisciplinary dialogue and communication are essential components of CliSAP’s climate research and thus integral to our curriculum.”

For two and a half days, meteorologists, oceanographers, sociologist, soil scientists, geoscientists, and economists discussed their current research issues and objectives such as: Flooding and climate change adaptation in Ghana’s coastal zone, the predictability of global ocean currents, or the dissemination of pollutants across the Baltic and North Seas. The broad spectrum of doctoral research topics at CliSAP is indicative of the numerous facets of climate change and the urgent need for cooperation.

The key topic of this work meeting was: “The IPCC Process—Pros and Cons.” Prof. Anita Engels, Prof. Hermann Held, and Prof. Hans von Storch–all three contributors to the climate change report–gave a joint talk with Dr. Gabriela von Goerne (Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources) and Gerrit Hansen (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) on the advantages and pitfalls of climate reports. The ensuing discussion fuelled a lively exchange of ideas with the doctoral candidates.

Eventually, the experienced researchers provided their aspiring colleagues with useful career advice. In a nutshell: Always be critical, do not mix personal ethics with science, prioritize, and enjoy your work!