Climate change is not a modern phenomena but in integral part of earth’s history. The speed and the scale of recent changes in global climate on the other hand are unprecedented. Scientists are frequently coming up with new comparisons to put the changes into a temporal perspective. People all over the world are taking to the streets, asking for more climate justice and demand that politicians to call the current situation as scientist do: a historic crisis.
To comprehend which scale these recent changes in earth’s atmosphere have one has to put them into a temporal context and compare the current changes to changes in the past. But how does one reconstruct the climate of the past 100 million years if humans began recording earth’s climate just recently in the 19th century?
This is the task of paleoclimatologists. Scientists of this scientific discipline work on climate archives in order to gain information on earth’s past climate. These archives can be organic archives like tree rings or coral, or anorganic archive such as speleothems, sediment or ice cores.
The aim of this project is to document the work of paleoclimatologists in different European countries and to fill the abstract term of „climate science“ with more content.
This project resulted in a book, working with my own images as well as texts and scientific imagery.
The Rhone glacier in the Swiss Alps in August 2021.
White cloth can slow down the melting of the covered areas. In this case the blanket covers the ice grotto, a tourist attraction. Once a labyrinth under the ice the ceiling is mostly open nowadays.
International core repository of the IODP (International Ocean Drilling Program) at @marum at the University of Bremen in Germany.
The core repository contains more than 160km of sediment cores from the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic and other oceans. The drill cores are cut into one meter long pieces on board of the research vessels. Afterwards the are divided in two halves: one half for sampling and one half as a backup.
The working half of a sediment core from the northern Atlantic Ocean. After samples are taken from the core the hole left behind are filled with to prevent mixing of the sediment layers.
Dr. Frank Sirocko in a cool room of the institute for geosciences at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz.
In 1998 he initiated the ELSA-project (Eifel Laminated Sediment Archive). Aim of the project was to collect sediment cores from maars in the german Eifel region in order to reconstruct the climatic history of the region.
At the Alfred-Wegener-Institute in Bremerhaven research is conducted on ice cores. In the ice laboratories of the institute samples are taken from ice cores from Greenland and Antartica which are analyzed for their isotopic composition.
Thin section cut from an ice core from Antarctica. The bubbles trapped in the ice give information on the composition of gases in the athmosphere at the time of the ice's formation.
Dr. Johannes Freitag of the AWI in the institute’s cold storage facility. There are around 4500 styrofoam boxes containing ice cores in this storage unit.
Ice cores are cut into smaller pieces on site right after extraction. The styrofoam transport boxes are filled with snow for additional padding.
Stalactites from various location in a storage drawer at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry in Mainz.
Prof. Ralf Schiebel in his office at the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry in Mainz. His department works on various climate archives such as sediments, tree rings and speleothems.
A piece of a speleothem under a drill at the faculty of Climate Geology at ETH Zurich. The dust collected from the drilling process is analyzed chemically.
The biggest artificial coral reef is part of the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe.
Dr. Sara Todorovic in her lab at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen.
A piece of coral from Tuvalu in the lab of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen. Corals grow like trees and form annual rings.
Slice of tree cut down in 19th century. This piece is part of the Hohenheim Year Ring Chronology which allows scientists to reconstruct the climate of the last 12.000 years.
Dr- Alexander Land is a dendrochronologist working at the University of Hohenheim.
A piece of wood from a dock found at Lake Constance. The wood is about 2000 years old and gives information on the climate at time of construction.
The Hohenpeißenberg Meteorological Observatory in Bavaria is the oldest mountain weather station in the world. Meteorological data is collected on the site continuously since 1781.
Parts of the archive of the German Weather Service (DWD) is located deep beneath the ground in a former bunker in Hamburg.
The DWD has about 40.000 books with maritime meteorological data recorded by trade ships. The data ranges back to the 19th century, a period where global weather monitoring was not yet conducted.
The Rhone glacier on a photograph from 1864 and today.
The Mer de Glace near Chamonix, France. In 1988 a cable car was constructed to reach the surface of the glacier from the nearby train station. Since then additional stairways are constructed every year. In 2015 it took 370 steps to reach the glacier, today it takes 580 steps.
A picture of the Montenvers train station in the Mer de Glace. When the picture was taken in the early 20th century visitors still had direct access to the glacier, today the surface lies 300 meters deeper.
A model of a Meteosat satellite. Nowadays global climate data is recorded continuously and automatically by satellites.
A research facility in the Solling forest in Lower Saxony, Germany. Scientists try measured the gas exchanges between the trees and the atmosphere in order to determine which effect land cover changes can have on the atmosphere.
Deutsches Klimarechenzentrum (DKRZ), Hamburg
Michele De Lorenzi, director of the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland.
The computers at the German Climate Computing Center (DKRZ) in Hamburg are used for calculating the complex climate models used in the IPCC reports.