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Climate System Research Group

Our research targets the physical processes that control interactions and linkages between different “bricks” of the climate system.

In doing so, a central theme is the relation between the cryosphere (snow and ice) in high mountains and the large-scale mechanisms in the climate. To decipher this relation various “players” are of interest: coupled atmosphere-ocean modes acting over thousands of kilometers; associated flows in the atmosphere which are strongly modified by high mountains over land; and the meteorological conditions in the mountains which provide the local environment for glacier variability.


More knowledge of the causal link between these components holds great potential to better understand the functioning of our climate system – through different space/time dimensions and from the surface up to higher air layers (the mid troposphere). This vitally extends the basis for improving climate projections for the future.

Main themes

  • Climate dynamics and mesoscale circulation over mountains & cold regions
  • Glaciers as indicator of large-scale climate
  • Tropical climate variability (monsoon, El Niño) and extratropical impacts

Main methods

  • Meteorological measurements in high mountains
  • Numerical modeling and high-performance computing
  • Four-dimensional statistical analyses

  • Mölg T., Hardy D.R., Collier E., Kropač E., Schmid C., Cullen N.J., Kaser G., Prinz R., Winkler M. (2020): Mesoscale atmospheric circulation controls of local meteorological elevation gradients on Kersten Glacier near Kilimanjaro summit. Earth System Dynamics, 11: 653–672.
  • Temme F., Turton J.V., Mölg T., Sauter T. (2020): Flow regimes and föhn types characterize the local climate of southern Patagonia. Atmosphere, 11: 899.
  • Turton J.V., Mölg T., Collier E. (2020): High-resolution (1 km) Polar WRF output for 79° N Glacier and the northeast of Greenland from 2014 to 2018, Earth System Science Data, 12: 1191–1202.
  • Collier E., Sauter T., Mölg T., Hardy D.R. (2019): The influence of tropical cyclones on circulation, moisture transport, and snow accumulation at Kilimanjaro during the 2006 – 2007 season. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 124: 6919-6928.
  • Cullen N.J., Gibson P.B., Mölg T., Conway J.P., Sirguey P., Kingston D.G. (2019): The influence of weather systems in controlling mass balance in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 124: 4514-4529.
  • Thielke A., Mölg T. (2019): Observed and simulated Indian Ocean Dipole activity since the mid-19th century and its relation to East African short rains. International Journal of Climatology, 39: 4467–4478.
  • Turton J.V., Mölg T., Van As D. (2019): Atmospheric processes and climatological characteristics of the 79N Glacier (northeast Greenland). Monthly Weather Review, 147: 1375-1394.
  • Collier E., Mölg T., Sauter T. (2018): Recent Atmospheric Variability at Kibo Summit, Kilimanjaro, and Its Relation to Climate Mode Activity. Journal of Climate, 131, 12,702–12,712.
  • Mölg T., Maussion F., Collier E., Chiang J.C.H., Scherer D. (2017): Prominent Midlatitude Circulation Signature in High Asia’s Surface Climate During Monsoon. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 122, 12,702–12,712.
  • Sauter T., Galos S. (2016): Effects of local advection on the spatial sensible heat flux variation on a mountain glacier. The Cryosphere, 10, 2887-2905.
  • Prinz R., Nicholson L.I., Gurgiser W., Mölg T., Kaser G. (2016): Climatic controls and climate proxy potential of Lewis Glacier, Mt Kenya. The Cryosphere, 10, 133-148.
  • Li R., Luo T., Mölg T., Zhao J., Li X., Cui X., Du M., Tang Y. (2016): Leaf unfolding of Tibetan alpine meadows captures the arrival of monsoon rainfall. Scientific Reports, 6, 20985.
  • Collier, E., Maussion F., Nicholson L.I., Mölg T., Immerzeel W.W., Bush A.B.G. (2015): Impact of debris cover on glacier ablation and atmosphere–glacier feedbacks in the Karakoram. The Cryosphere, 9, 1617-1632.
  • Mölg T. (2015): Exploring the concept of maximum entropy production for the local atmosphere-glacier system. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 7, 412-422.
  • Sauter T., Obleitner F. (2015): Assessing the uncertainty of glacier mass-balance simulations in the European Arctic based on variance decomposition. Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 3911-3928.
  • Farinotti D., Longuevergne L., Moholdt G., Duethmann D., Mölg T., Bolch T., Vorogushyn S., Güntner A. (2015): Strong glacier mass loss in the Tien Shan over the past 50 years. Nature Geoscience, 8, 716-722.
  • Hofer M., Marzeion B., Mölg T. (2015): A priori selection and data-based skill assessment of reanalysis data as predictors for daily air temperature on a glaciated, tropical mountain range. Geoscientific Model Development, 8, 579-593.