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ERC Synergy Grant for Freiburg climate research

European Research Council awards 12.4 million euros in funding for project to forecast the future and climate of cities

Freiburg, Oct 11, 2019

ERC Synergy Grant for Freiburg climate research

Andreas Christen Photo: Jürgen Gocke

The environmental meteorologist Prof. Dr. Andreas Christen from the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg has been awarded a Synergy Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for his research on urban climate and global climate change. This grant is given exclusively to teams of two to four scientists. Christen will receive the 12.4 million euro grant for the “urbisphere” project on which he is working together with Prof. Dr. Sue Grimmond from the University of Reading in England, Prof. Dr. Jörn Birkmann from the University of Stuttgart and Dr. Nektarios Chrysoulakis from the research center FORTH (Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas) in Heraklion, Greece. Of the total amount, slightly more than four million euros will be awarded to the University of Freiburg.

The scientists aim to redesign current approaches of how cities are modeled in climate and forecasting systems: The goal of “urbisphere” is to develop a new generation of models to forecast the future and the climate of cities. The Christen group is developing new observation methods that will provide essential data on the interaction of cities with the climate system. For example, they will measure greenhouse gas emissions from cities or individualized climate exposure of urban populations such as heat and air pollution. The methods include portable sensors, intelligent measurement systems in buildings and on masts as well as ground-based and satellite-based remote sensing technologies. The research team aims to use these data to develop and test abstract yet realistic models to predict how cities change the local and global climate system and how the changed climate system affects people in different cities around the world. In the project, the scientists are collaborating with the Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Weather Service) and the German Aerospace Center.

Christen argues that cities are a key to understand and mitigate global climate change: “On the one hand, cities are responsible for a large part of our global greenhouse gas emissions. And on the other hand, they are home to more than half the world’s population who are experiencing the impacts of climate change. So far, these two aspects have been considered separately and statically. The ERC Synergy Grant will allow our European team to develop new approaches to better capture the dynamics and feedbacks of cities in the climate system in climate and forecasting models. We must not only provide cities with global climate projections, but also provide them with sound and effective information for decision-making in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation.”


Prof. Dr. Andreas Christen
Institute for Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-3591