Science has long been, and continues to be, an important driver for the advancement of civilisation. In addition, it can help to pave the way for finding answers to society’s most pressing questions and challenges. In the 21st century, the latter include climate change, which to a considerable extent is the result of human activities. In REKLIM we produce findings that can serve as the basis for decision-making processes. Understanding climate change, its causes and effects in ‘our own backyard’, and finding the answers that reveal potential responses – these objectives have driven the network for over a decade. Together with highly motivated colleagues from nine Helmholtz Centres, we are now further refining the network’s focus. For us, successful research means: taking responsibility for tomorrow.
In addition, one of REKLIM’s long-term goals is to develop optimised Earth system models at a regional scale, in which interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, biosphere, land masses and soils are taken into account and viewed in relation to human activities. These Earth system models, together with suitable observation and data analysis techniques, will allow us to assess and project regional climate change in the past, present and future.
To the extent possible, all climate-influencing factors, which range from natural regional drivers to anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions, are to be linked to the corresponding changes they produce. Accordingly, determining the respective influences of the various drivers (global, regional and local – natural and anthropogenic) with regard to climatic variability and climatic impacts is an especially important goal for REKLIM. In keeping with the overall strategy of the Helmholtz Association, REKLIM’s efforts serve a twofold purpose: to further explore highly topical research questions at the regional scale, and to make reliable findings available for socioeconomic and political decision-making processes. In the new research programme Changing Earth – Sustaining Our Future, which was initiated by the Helmholtz Association’s research field Earth and Environment on 01.01.2020 for a seven-year term, REKLIM is serving as a ‘bridge-builder’ by pursuing synergies in connection with the new research topics described here, and by bringing together various types of research expertise in a thematically oriented manner.
In summary, REKLIM pursues the following goals:
- Improving our grasp of processes through regional observation and modelling,
- Developing improved coupled regional climate models by using already available models on higher-performance computers (resolution) and by integrating additional climate-relevant components of the regional Earth system,
- Generating new datasets on the recent past, the present and the future, which integrate information on regional climate change in specific key regions,
- Analysing the latest climate changes and how they are perceived by human beings with regard to their causes, regional and local repercussions, global significance and outlook,
- Providing up-to-date information for societal decision-makers with regard to climate protection and for use in avoidance and adaptation strategies; and for national and international scientific councils (e.g. the IPCC),
- Investigation of cultural, socioeconomic and political-institutional factors that are essential to arriving at new climate knowledge, and to implementing effective measures against climate change.