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Advanced Climate Summer Courses 2009 at Espegrend, Bergen

The main focus of this years summer school was was the understanding of the basic state, variability, forcing and stability of the ocean overturning circulation in the past, present and future

The Advanced Climate Dynamic Courses (ACDC) are a series of annual summer schools aimed at advanced graduate and PhD students. The courses are coordinated by the Norwegian Research School in Climate Dynamics in Norway and are part of the partnership in climate between the Bjerknes Centre in Bergen, University of Washington in Seattle, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Currently, most of the information regarding the courses can be found at


The main focus of this years summer school, held at the Marine Biological Station at Espegrend, south of Bergen – Norway, from  3 to 12 of June, was the understanding of the basic state, variability, forcing and stability of the ocean overturning circulation in the past, present and future. 26 students of ten different nationalities were admitted from a total of 95 applicants. India, China, Norway, Brazil, United Kingdom, United States, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden were represented among them. Many of them are already enrolled in study programs in other countries than their own. Most of the students aimed improving their training and update their knowledge, while some also expected to complement their university degree or improve their CV. Most of them were not necessarily attending the courses as part of any university or department requirement, but simply to improve their knowledge and skills.

ACDC boat trip In the overall the school worked very well, both from the scientifc and practical point of view. All the participants, except a few lecturers, spent most of their time together at the station. This stimulated exchange of knowledge and social activities. All the student's would recommend the school for other researchers or will register for the next year's course.


Lectures were given by a range of climate researchers from different institutions in Norway, United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany. A full list of the participants and their affliation is found in the program (appendix A). Most of the days started with summaries by the students and a lecture in the morning, followed by two more lectures in the afternoon. The frst two days lectures, each of 3 hours including discussion, focused on core topics on the basic understanding of the atmosphere and the ocean, how they interact and what is know about the past ocean. They were:

1)  Dynamics and variability of the atmosphere - Climate: radiation, atmospheric dynamics and atmospheric variability - David Battisti,  University of Washington

2)  Dynamics and variability of the ocean - Helen Johnson, University of Oxford

3)  Dynamics and variability of the ocean  - Our basic understanding of past ocean circulation - Jake Gebbie, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4)  Dynamics and variability of the coupled system - Johan Nilsson, University of Stockholm.

The second week was organized with advanced lectures on these four topics, with each talk lasting approximately 1.5 hours followed by questions and discussion between students and lecturers attending. The frst two days (8 and 9 of June) covered lectures on the dynamics of the atmosphere, the ocean and how their coupling drives changes in the global overturning circulation through oceanic salinity and freshwater fuxes. The third day (10 of June) was focused on the ocean variability and the meridional overturning circulation (MOC), followed by evidence for past variability of the MOC, on the fourth day (11 of June). Finally, the series of lecturers was concluded with discussions about the climate variability at multidecadal timescales and possible atmospheric and oceanic counterparts involved.

The lectures were grouped as follow:

1) Dynamics and variability of the atmosphere:

Understanding the atmospheric circulation response to anthropogenic forcing - David W. J. Thompson, Colorado State University.

2) Dynamics and variability of the ocean:

Nordic recipes: constraining the ocean's northern overturning - Tor Eldevik, BCCR/NERSC;

Monitoring and detecting changes in the MOC - Johanna Baehr, University of Hamburg;

Implications for Atlantic MOC observing systems of adjoint model sensitivities - Patrick Heimbach, MIT;

Predictability and variability of the ocean circulation: A non-normalperspective - Laure Zana, University of Oxford.

3) Basic state and variability of past ocean:

Stability of past ocean circulation, examples from past abrupt climate changes - Kerim H. Nisancioglu, BCCR;

Climate related variability in the MOC: lessons from the ooze - Kikki Kleiven, BCCR;

The Southern Ocean and Global Overturning Circulation, theory and paleo constraints - Ulysses Ninnemann, BCCR/UIB.

4) Dynamics and variability of the coupled system:

Thermohaline circulation and the hydrological cycle - Johan Nilsson, University of Stockholm;

Coupled Arctic-AMOC interactions in the past and present - Cecilia Bitz, University of Washington;

Multidecadal variability as observed in ocean and gridded atmospheric data - Øyvind Lie, BCCR;

Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation as seen in models, observations and paleo data - Odd Helge Otterå, BCCR/NERSC.

Student's evaluation regarding the lectures indicate that the courses were easy to follow, the lectures were well structured, clear, interesting and stimulating even for advanced students. Lecturers were also responsive to the students questions, stimulating constant feedback during the talks. Flexible breaks kept the lecturer and students active during the courses, and seemed like the length of the talks was appropriate. The school filled the expectations for the vast majority of the students, as they could understand how the courses contributed or related to their own research projects. 


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