Climate & Environmental Change (CLENCH)
The ERU CLENCH’s vision is to contribute significantly to master the intellectual, technological and political challenges of finding innovative solutions to sustain a growing human population under changing climatic and environmental conditions. These challenges include developing solutions to use natural resources sustainably, to reverse the dramatic loss of biodiversity, and to reduce the atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, which are effectively higher than at any other time within the past 500'000 years. Therefore, CLENCH will perform Earth System Science with a focal point on land-atmosphere interactions. CLENCH will treat the global aspects of land-atmosphere-interactions, and give special attention to mountainous regions with their particular climate sensitivity and associated concentration of biodiversity. CLENCH´s program sets a perspective for at least the next ten years, which will later also encompass marine aspects.
CLENCH’s mission is to make significant progress in characterizing physical, chemical and biological aspects of land-atmosphere interactions as required for improved understanding of climate change, loss of biodiversity, and land use change-related problems. Technically, CLENCH will achieve this scientific mission by state-of-the-art laboratory studies and field work integrating in an unique fashion climate, bio-geochemistry and biodiversity research, with an emphasis on the Swiss Alps, a strong modeling initiative encompassing data sources worldwide and allowing to scale between regional and global levels, and by technological and socio-economic and societal components, dealing with the implementation and consequences of political measures.
Goals and strategy
Using well coordinated experimental and modeling studies, CLENCH aims to answer the following questions:
(1) How does climate and environmental change affect biodiversity and processes in the biosphere?
(2) How large are the feedbacks of the terrestrial biosphere on the production of GHG and aerosols, the Earth's energy budget, and hence on climate?
(3) How can a hierarchy of models – from the local subsoil to the global scale – be coupled and nested to improve the representation and the scaling of land-atmosphere interactions across spatial dimensions?
(4) What can we learn from past climate changes for future climates and their effect on the biosphere?
(5) How can we assess mitigation and adaptation options and technologies to fulfill Kyoto requirements and to slow-down climate change impacts on economies and societies?