Climate System Research Group

Our research targets the physical processes that control interactions and linkages between the different subsystems of the climate.

In doing so, a central theme is the relation between the local atmosphere in cold regions (including the effects on snow and ice) 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 and over ice sheets, which provide the local environment for glacier and snow 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.


Doctoral student, research assistant

Group leader, project leader /

MSc students (2024): Sophia Thomas, Thomas Rühlemann

Former members:
Dr. Emily Collier (postdoc, 2016-2019)
Prof. Nicolas Cullen (Humboldt Visiting Professor, 2016, 2018)
Prof. Alfonso Fernandez (Humboldt Visiting Professor, 2023-2025)
Dr. Carolyne Pickler (postdoc, 2017-2023)
Prof. Tobias Sauter (postdoc, 2015-2021)
Dr. Christina Schmid (doctoral candidate, 2017-2021)
Anja Thielke (doctoral candidate, 2015-2018)
Dr. Ilaria Tabone (Humboldt postdoc, 2020-2022)
Dr. Jenny Turton (postdoc, 2017-2021)

Research areas

Main themes

  • Climate dynamics and mesoscale circulation over mountains & cold regions
  • Atmosphere-land interactions (in particular, snow and ice)
  • Role of synoptic-scale processes and weather for climatological questions

Main methods

  • Numerical modeling and high-performance computing
  • Meteorological measurements in high mountains
  • Big data analysis and statistical methods

Peer-reviewed publications (selection!)


  • Hinzmann A., Mölg T., Braun M., Cullen N.J., Hardy D.R., Kaser G., Prinz R. (2024): Tropical glacier loss in East Africa: Recent areal extents on Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and in the Rwenzori Range from high-resolution remote sensing data. Environmental Research: Climate, 3: 011003.
  • Mölg T., Pickler C. (2022): A mid-troposphere perspective on the East African climate paradox. Environmental Research Letters, 17: 084041.
  • Andernach M., Turton J.V., Mölg T. (2022): Modeling cloud properties over the 79N Glacier (Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, NE Greenland) for an intense summer melt period in 2019. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 148: 3566-3590.
  • Pickler C., Mölg T. (2021): GCM model selection technique for downscaling: Exemplary application to East Africa. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 126: e2020JD033033.
  • Kropač E., Mölg T., Cullen N.J., Collier E., Pickler C., Turton J.V. (2021): A detailed, multi-scale assessment of an atmospheric river event and its impact on extreme glacier melt in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 126: e2020JD034217.
  • Collier E., Mölg T. (2020): BAYWRF: a convection-resolving, present-day climatological atmospheric dataset for Bavaria. Earth System Science Data, 12: 3097–3112.
  • 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.