New project group investigates Asian monsoon

01.09.2010

Scientists from the Institute for Biogeochemistry and Marine Chemistry of the University of Hamburg are now investigating the Indian monsoon climate of the past 10,000 years. The objective is to understand monsoon anomalies and improve the prediction of extremes in the future.

Floods and droughts seem to be increasing in the Asian monsoon region. An example is the recent flooding in Pakistan, which has dominated recent news. However, such extreme events already occurred in the geological past: Their traces can be found in the sediments of lakes, in tree rings and in peat profiles and stalagmites as in an archive.

Beginning in November, the Hamburg research team including  Dr. Birgit Gaye, Philip Menzel, Dr. Martin Wiesner and Dr. Thomas Lüdmannwill be collecting sediment samples and performing measurements in three lakes in northwestern and central India in order to reconstruct the past monsoon climate of the region.

In addition, the scientists will study the consequences of flooding on surface processes such as soil erosion. Erosion in mountainous regions can lead to mud flows such as those occurring at present in Pakistan. The results of the work will help in the planning of future mitigation and adaptation measures for the region. The project is part of the German-Indian research cooperation HIMPAC (Himalaya: Modern and Past Climates) of the German Research Council and is coordinated at the German Research Centre for Geosciences at the University of Potsdam.