Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE COMES

INTO THE ENGINEER'S SPOTLIGHT

Denmark needs a solid knowledge base if it is to maintain its leading position within climate research and adaptation. Aarhus University’s new strategic research centre, iClimate, will be making sure that this knowledge is in place; and there are more than enough engineering challenges to tackle.

The UN has pointed to climate change as probably one of the most important global challenges. Climate change affects everything from food and energy production, to public health, security policy, and how we organise our towns and cities, because everything depends on how people adapt to the new climate reality in the future.

In December 2017, Aarhus University inaugurated a new strategic research centre: the Aarhus University Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change, iClimate. The centre’s ambition is to provide a solution-oriented approach to this highly complex area. Part of the centre is anchored at the Department of Engineering, where Associate Professor Rune Hylsberg Jacobsen is heading the engineering work:

“There’s a huge number of engineering challenges in climate change, but some of the things we will be focusing on especially are managing and analysing data, developing mathematical models, making forecasts and determining consequences of possible scenarios. We hope that all of these can be used as a decision-making basis for governments in different parts of the world, for example,” he says.

Adaptation and mitigation
In recent years, the Danish research community has had increasing focus on the climate issue. So far, much of the work has aimed at understanding and describing the changed climatic conditions and the related challenges, as well as the possibilities of limiting the effects of the anthropogenic changes. iClimate will have greater focus on a more solution-oriented approach to the challenges, with a solid foothold in the knowledge accumulated.

Therefore, the engineering challenges at the centre of the issue are also about coming up with specific solutions for climate- adaptation and mitigation projects in connection with different climate scenarios - for example solutions to integrate renewable energy into the electricity grid.

“In many places, including in Denmark, we’re already well on the way to protecting cities from increasing water levels. But the climate knows no national borders, and we’re working with global models. We want to zoom in on some areas that make sense for us - for example, the agricultural sector and the Arctic - and we want to develop our expertise within these areas in cooperation with industrial partners,” explains Rune Hylsberg Jacobsen and mentions Greenland as an example:

“Climate change is often about adaptation and mitigation of future problems, but we must also remember to look at new opportunities. Here, Greenland is an obvious topic; for instance, should we develop agriculture in Greenland in the future? These are some of the opportunities that arise as a result of climate change, and they will be included in the analytical scenarios in our climate services,” he says.

A broad focus
In addition to climate services, iClimate will be focusing on a number of points in relation to climate change. One of them is the ‘climate-drivers’ which, as the name indicates, spur climate change. There are as yet unknown factors here, for example the significance of the oceans, the importance of what is happening in the Arctic and the impact of the short-lived greenhouse components such as atmospheric particles, methane and ozone.

Agriculture and food production are also a focal point for the centre. The sectors will undergo fundamental changes in a changing climate, for example crop yields will change. Energy production and consumption, industrial production and the importance of cities will be included in the work at the new centre. Furthermore, research into atmospheric processes and modelling and other disciplines within air pollution will be included in the research portfolio.

FACTS

The Aarhus University Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change, iClimate, is led by Professor Jørgen Brandt from the Department of Environmental Science.

The multidisciplinary work at the centre involves the participation of the following departments and centres at Aarhus University:

  • Department of Bioscience
  • Department of Geoscience
  • Department of Agroecology
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Engineering
  • Department of Animal Science
  • Department of Food Science
  • DCE – the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy
  • DCA – the Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture.

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