TW5 - Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity

Event Dates: 16–19th October 2012
Location: Potsdam, Germany
Organisers: Georg Feulner, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
ECTS Point Allocation: 3

TW5 Group

The GREENCYCLES-II Training Workshop 5 on “Earth-system models of intermediate complexity” took place at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK, Germany) from 16 to 19 October 2012. For this event, 12 GREENCYCLES-II fellows, 4 external participants and 7 invited speakers gathered in the cupola of PIK’s main building on the historic Telegrafenberg campus.

The aim of this particular training workshop was to give the participants a broad overview of intermediate-complexity climate models which fill the gap between simple energy-balance models and the more sophisticated (but computationally very expensive) atmosphere-ocean general circulation models. A special focus of the workshop was climate-biosphere interactions, the general topic of the GREENCYCLES-II network. Training was designed as a combination of 7 lectures (each lasting 75 minutes plus 15 minutes of discussion) and 5 hours of practical training during the afternoons of the second and third day.

After a brief introduction to the workshop by Georg Feulner (PIK), the series of lectures was opened in the afternoon of the first day by Victor Brovkin (Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany) who spoke about “Climate-vegetation feedbacks in EMICs and GCMs”, highlighting biogeophysical effects of terrestrial vegetation with a special focus on the Sahara and on tropical and boreal forests. The topic of the second session of lectures, in the morning of the second day, was biogeochemical interactions between the biosphere and the climate. Thomas Kleinen (Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany) gave an introduction to “The terrestrial carbon cycle - an overview with a focus on wetland processes” in which he discussed a wide range of topics from vegetation and soil modelling to wetlands. This was nicely complemented by a lecture on biogeochemistry in the oceans by Guy Munhoven (Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique Université de Liège, Belgium) who spoke about “Modelling the marine carbon cycle”. The third session of lectures in the morning of the third day was devoted to paleoclimate studies using intermediate-complexity models. Andrey Ganopolski (PIK) presented work on “Modelling glacial cycles with EMICs”, a particularly nice example for the use of intermediate complexity models to test the Milankovitch theory for the succession of glacials and interglacials. This was followed by a lecture by Didier Roche (Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, France, and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands) on “Abrupt climate events - definition, evidences and modelling” with a detailed discussion of Heinrich, Dansgaard-Oeschger and lake-drainage events. Finally, the fourth session of lectures on the last day focussed on simulations of future climate change. Andrei Sokolov (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts) spoke about “Probabilistic projections of climate system response to anthropogenic forcing with climate models of intermediate complexity” where the speed of intermediatecomplexity models is essential to probe the uncertainty space. Katja Frieler (PIK) concluded the presentations with a lecture on “Climate model emulators”, for example fast energy-balance models tuned to reproduce the behaviour of comprehensive Earth-system models.

Practical training was designed as an exercise to write a Nature-paper like introductory paragraph from a set of publications related to modelling of vegetation changes in the Sahara during the Holocene, a topic extensively discussed in the first lecture of the workshop.


  1. Katherine Crichton, LGGE, France – GC
  2. Aideen Foley, University of Cambridge, Uk – GC
  3. László Hunor Hajdu, University of Cambridge, UK – GC
  4. Rozenn Keribin, University of Cambridge, UK – GC
  5. Mehera Kidston, Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique, France - GC
  6. Yanjiao Mi, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands – GC
  7. Aurélien Quiquet, University of Cambridge, UK – GC
  8. Dominik Sperlich, CREAF, Spain – GC
  9. Beate Stawiarski, UEA, UK – GC
  10. Chao Ting Chang, CREAF, Spain – GC
  11. Guillaume Vilain, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany – GC
  12. Matteo Willeit, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany – GC
  13. Krista Kemmpinnen, University of Cambridge, UK
  14. Martin Wattenbach, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Germany
  15. Sibyll Schaphoff, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany
  16. Mahé Perrette, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany