Climate System Research Group | Climate System Research Group – Institut für Geographie
Jordanien - Felskloster Ed Deir (studentischer Fotowettbewerb) Jordanien - Felskloster Ed Deir (studentischer Fotowettbewerb)

Climate System Research Group

Our research targets physical processes that control the interactions and linkages between different “bricks” of the climate system. In doing so, a central theme is the relation between the cryosphere (snow and ice) in high mountains and the large-scale mechanisms in the climate. To decipher this relation various “players” are of interest: coupled atmosphere-ocean modes acting over thousands of kilometers; associated flows in the atmosphere which are strongly modified by high mountains over land; and the meteorological conditions in the mountains which provide the local environment for glacier variability; More knowledge of the causal link between these components holds great potential to better understand the functioning of our climate system – through different space-time dimensions and from the surface up to higher air layers (the mid troposphere). This vitally extends the basis for improving climate projections for the future.




Prof. Dr. Thomas Mölg / / group leader, project leader

Dr. Nicolas J. Cullen / Univ. Otago / Humboldt Scholar, project leader

Dr. Emily Collier / PostDoc, project staff

Dr. Tobias Sauter / / PostDoc, project leader

Marta Caballero, Phys. Eng. / PhD student, DAAD Fellow (co-supervision with WG Braun)

Anja Sendelbeck, MSc / PhD student, univ. assistant

Thomas Scherer, Alexander Thiel (MSc students)


Main themes

– High-altitude cryosphere as indicator of large-scale climate dynamics

– Tropical climate variability (monsoon, El Niño) and extratropical impacts

– Orographic precipitation and mesoscale circulations


Main methods

– Meteorological measurements in high mountains

– Numerical modeling and high-performance computing

– Four-dimensional statistical analyses


Recent peer-reviewed publications (selection)

Sauter T., Galos S. (2016): Effects of local advection on the spatial sensible heat flux variation on a mountain glacier. The Cryosphere, 10, 2887-2905.

Prinz R., Nicholson L.I., Gurgiser W., Mölg T., Kaser G. (2016): Climatic controls and climate proxy potential of Lewis Glacier, Mt Kenya. The Cryosphere, 10, 133-148.

Li R., Luo T., Mölg T., Zhao J., Li X., Cui X., Du M., Tang Y. (2016): Leaf unfolding of Tibetan alpine meadows captures the arrival of monsoon rainfall. Scientific Reports, 6, 20985.

Collier, E., Maussion F., Nicholson L.I., Mölg T., Immerzeel W.W., Bush A.B.G. (2015): Impact of debris cover on glacier ablation and atmosphere–glacier feedbacks in the Karakoram. The Cryosphere, 9, 1617-1632.

Mölg T. (2015): Exploring the concept of maximum entropy production for the local atmosphere-glacier system. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 7, 412-422.

Sauter T., Obleitner F. (2015): Assessing the uncertainty of glacier mass-balance simulations in the European Arctic based on variance decomposition. Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 3911-3928.

Farinotti D., Longuevergne L., Moholdt G., Duethmann D., Mölg T., Bolch T., Vorogushyn S., Güntner A. (2015): Strong glacier mass loss in the Tien Shan over the past 50 years. Nature Geoscience, 8, 716-722.

Hofer M., Marzeion B., Mölg T. (2015): A priori selection and data-based skill assessment of reanalysis data as predictors for daily air temperature on a glaciated, tropical mountain range. Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 579-593.

Cullen N. J., Mölg T., Conway J., Steffen K. (2014): Assessing the role of sublimation in the dry snow zone of the Greenland ice sheet in a warming world. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 119, 6563–6577.

Mölg T., Maussion F., Scherer D. (2014): Mid-latitude westerlies as a driver of glacier variability in monsoonal High Asia. Nature Climate Change, 4, 68-73.

Sauter T., Möller M., Finkelnburg R., Grabiec M., Scherer D., Schneider C. (2013): Snowdrift modelling for the Vestfonna ice cap, north-eastern Svalbard. The Cryosphere, 7, 1287-1301.