Feature Interview with Prof. Jürg Luterbacher and Dr. Elena Xoplaki

Prof. Jürg Luterbacher and Dr. Elena Xoplaki both from Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen visited the IBS Center of Climate Physics (ICCP) on November 5~7, 2018. They gave special lectures and had discussions with researchers of ICCP. As working in a similar field related to climate reconstruction, they are pursuing various researches to understand a wide spectrum of topics on extremes and climate variations in the world. Especially, with their joint network and many experiences working abroad, they are very willing to do collaborative works on complex features in climate dynamics and climate changes with ICCP in the future.

 

Prof. Jürg Luterbacher and Dr. Elena Xoplaki visited to ICCP
Prof. Jürg Luterbacher and Dr. Elena Xoplaki visited to ICCP

 

 

Q. What are your main research areas?

Jürg:

Firstly, I work on understanding of the past climate change over the last two thousand years in different areas of the world. This includes documentary information, natural proxy data, and using the statistics to reconstruct temperature and precipitation in different regions. Secondly, I try to understand the dynamics and processes connected to different areas that were very warm or very dry in different time periods by using statistics and also climate models. The last part is about the impacts the climate change on societies combining reconstructions with climate model outputs and impact models. Also, I am working on weather climate extremes such as heat waves, floodings, storms and any other natural hazards and downscale extremes on smaller space scales.

 

Elena:

Spatially, I mainly focus on the Mediterranean climate change. During the last few years, I’ve been working on interdisciplinary approach towards understanding the impacts of climate on complex past societies. I also work on the recent climate impacts assessment in the Mediterranean region in the frame of MedECC, the network of Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change.

 

Prof. Jürg Luterbacher
Prof. Jürg Luterbacher
Dr. Elena Xoplaki
Dr. Elena Xoplaki

 

 

 

 

Q. Since both of you have research experiences in East Asia, how did it help your research area?

Elena:

This collaboration has been highly beneficial for me not only in research but also as a person. Not only I got to know new colleagues and make new friends from different countries but I was also given the opportunity to integrate into different ways of working, thinking and studying. I’ve had the benefit of multicultural approach to my research and I’m always grateful returning to East Asia.

 

Jürg:

We have developed a long time collaboration with different Chinese universities and the Chinese Academy of Science. This includes staff and students exchanges, to learn and collaborate on various aspects of paleoclimatology. Elena and I were invited by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research in Beijing, China, we gave lectures and seminars and worked on joint papers using the wealth of paleo climate data. Over the years, we developed a very good collaboration and mutual trust, we share data and have continuous student and staff exchanges.

 

 

Seminar by Elena Xoplaki on ‘Climate impacts and societal resilience in the Mediterranean of the last millennium’
Seminar by Elena Xoplaki on ‘Climate impacts and societal resilience in the Mediterranean of the last millennium’

 

 

Q. What is your favorite aspect of your research and also most challenging part of your research?

Elena:

What is exciting and difficult at the same time is how to make the individual links and bridges connecting the historical and societal information with climate. At first, I cannot be sure about the links I between the climate models, the climate proxy information and the society impacts, but in all aspects, I try to interpret the links by considering all the uncertainties and limitations that are inherited in all sources of information I used. The cautious interpretation is always frustrating and challenging, but once I get to follow and develop it in logical way, it becomes really exciting.

 

Jürg:

It is exciting for me to discuss with other researchers about many scientific topics by sharing ideas developing and writing joint papers and to broaden my perspective. On the other hand, the difficult part is to receive proper funding for scientific projects. Also very good ideas on a new project, require hard work to receive funding and support your research and give young researchers the opportunity to work on their PhD.

 

 

Seminar by Jürg Luterbacher on ‘New evidence on East Asian temperature and hydro-climatic variability over the past two millennia’
Seminar by Jürg Luterbacher on ‘New evidence on East Asian temperature and hydro-climatic variability over the past two millennia’

 

 

Q. What’s like having a life partner working in the same field?

Jürg:

I think it’s very beneficial because we can share ideas and networks and also do collaborative projects in similar topics. We do have each specialized domain of research but also joint research agenda. We can work closely and publish papers together by developing each other’s ideas. It’s like a synergy effect for sure.

 

Elena:

It’s great fun and at the same time it requires patience and organization. It worked well till now, I wouldn’t change anything.

 

 

 

Q. What do you think about any potential collaborative research with ICCP in the future?

Elena:

I had very interesting discussions with researchers at ICCP. We talked about migration issues, cultural impacts, documentary data, and paleo climate. I think we already have links so we can develop related interdisciplinary research in the future.

 

Jürg:

What I felt from past few days here at ICCP, people are very open minded, motivated, interdisciplinary and willing to discuss their research on earth system modeling, climate change, paleo and hydro climate components, etc. Also, the ICCP researchers have very fast used synergies and started working together. For me, Monsoon is a very relevant field. Monsoon is the nature feature during the summer time and hundreds of millions persons depend on it. I think it has a large potential to work towards better modeling the Monsoon dynamics across time and space scales and also develop new models and short to midterm projections using the new supercomputer.