Research Themes

Research Themes

Our research can be divided into four broad themes as described below. More detailed information about our wide range of research activites can be found on the personal websites.

Recent climate change impacts on the environment

Both the physical environment and many living organisms are sensitive to changing climatic conditions. Glaciers, for example, will decrease in size and mass in a warming climate. Regular monitoring of glaciers in northern Sweden is made at the research station in Tarfala. As another example, we study trees as they provide a natural archive for monitoring changes in air, soil and groundwater pollution in both rural and urban areas. By studying how the urban environment affects local tree growth, we can obtain better understanding of the trees' sensitivity and adaptability to seasonal climate changes over time. This knowledge can also serve as validation for the statistical approach of using long records of tree-growth to estimate how temperature or precipitation has varied several hundred years back in time.

Past climate and environment reconstruction

Climate and the environment have varied greatly throughout the Earth's history. Most scientists in our research unit work on improving our understanding of how and why these changes have occurred, and how different aspects of climate and environment changes are linked to each other. Depending on how far back in time a particular study reaches, different approaches are needed as regards methods used and material being studied. Most of us work with climate and environmental changes in the Quaternary Period (the last ca 2.6 Million years), but some work extend further back while some others focus on the most recent past. Geographically, our study sites are spread from the tropics to the poles and across the continents.

Climate modelling

Climate models are the main tool to understand mechanisms for past climate changes. They are also the primary tool for providing information on how climate may develop in the future, under different assumptions about the evolution of factors that affect large-scale changes climate – both for natural and human-made reasons. Our research unit is involved in the use and development of the climate model EC-Earth within paleoclimate studies, where we focus on different time periods of particular interest. We also use other climate models that can include information on how different stable isotopes of oxygen in water transports within the hydrological cycle.

Model-data comparison methods

Comparison of results from experiments with climate models with results from observations of past climate or environmental changes derived from various types of proxy data or instrumental data poses particular problems of statistical nature. Therefore, it is essential to develop statistical frameworks for the comparison of climate model simulations with observations of past changes. Some of us focus on this type of problem, where we collaborate closely with mathematical statisticians at our university.

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