Gaining a deeper understanding of glaciers

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Image: FAU/Matthias Braun

Elite Network of Bavaria approves international doctorate programme

Glaciers are often an accurate indicator for climate change. Whilst it is comparatively easy to measure and quantify changes in regions such as the Alps, there is often only very little information available for the majority of the 215,000 glaciers worldwide. The new international doctorate programme in Measuring and Modelling Mountain glaciers and ice caps in a Changing Climate (M³OCCA) led by Prof. Dr. Matthias Braun at the Institute of Geography at FAU is aimed at improving the accuracy of measurements from glaciers and obtaining better data using new technology, sensors and instruments. The Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts is to provide funding for the elite doctorate programme over the next four years as part of the Elite Network of Bavaria.

The new doctorate programme aims to pool findings from various disciplines and link various models, for example by comparing simulations of glacier movements and the effect wind has on snow drift at the surface of the glacier. Better models will allow doctoral candidates to explore the correlation between changes to glaciers and natural disasters in more detail. The researchers aim to develop new devices, sensors and methods using long-term measurements obtained from the Ötztal Alps. They will use techniques based on machine learning to assess the data and model the glaciers.

The team is made up of researchers from the fields of geography, geosciences, mathematics, computer science and electrical engineering from FAU, Technische Universität München (TUM), the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. European experts from the various research focus areas will support the doctoral candidates in their work. A total of nine doctoral candidates will each work in one of the sub-projects within the research network. They will be involved in using artificial intelligence to gain a more accurate picture of the contours of glaciers, or to determine the depth to which satellite signals from radar sensors penetrate glaciers and the layer of snow. As well as opportunities for sharing ideas and experiences with fellow researchers from other disciplines and countries, the doctoral candidates will benefit from a diverse and varied educational programme with colloquia, workshops and traditional training courses. The calls for applications for the nine doctoral positions are expected to be issued in early February 2022.

Overview of sub-projects and the organisations involved in the programme

Further information

Prof. Dr. Matthias Braun

Institute of Geography at FAU

Phone: +49 9131 85 22015

Video: Measuring glaciers from the air

Wing of aircraft and glacierThey fly over the huge ice fields of Patagonia in a small aircraft specially built to withstand Arctic conditions. The journey to the end of the world is all part of Prof. Dr. Matthias Braun’s job, at least now and again. The professor from the Institute of Geography at FAU observes, measures and researches glaciers, ice shelves, mountain ranges and polar regions.

To the video