Hauptseminar und Vertiefungsvorlesung: Mountain glaciers: present status, water resources and sea level rise under climate change

Gino Casassa und Christoph Schneider

WS 10/11


Seminarleitung / lecturerers:

Prof. Dr. Gino Casassa und Prof. Dr. Christoph Schneider

Gino Casassa is a specialist with extensive expertise in glaciology and geophysics. He is co-heading a research unit on glacier research at the Centro de Estudios Cientificos in Valdivia, Chile. Additionally he was Lead Coordinating Author of the 4th Assessment Report on climate change of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Gino Casassa currently is in Germany, in Dresden and in Aachen based on a grant from the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung. The course and lecture that he is offering within the study programme of B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Applied Geography and BA Geography is an outstanding opportunity both for getting into contact with a world-leading scientist in the field and also a splendid opportunity to practise your individual abilities in English.

Anmeldung / Registration

You can register to that course as in-depth lecture (Vertiefungsvorlesung) or additional course (Ergänzungsbereich) using the CAMPUS system latest by October, 11th 2010. Registration as main course (Hauptseminar) is closed.

Termine / dates

  • Seminartermine / course hours: block course in the beginning of the winter term Monday, October 11th until Thursday, October 14th and with a closing session on Thursday, Ocotber 21st. Details will be mailed to participants in the end of September.
  • Oral examiniations will be scheduled directly after the course on Friday, October 22nd, preferably during the morning hours between 9:00 and 12:00 a.m.

Zielgruppe dieser Veranstaltung sind Studierende im Hauptstudium ab dem 5. Fachsemester mit Geographie als Haupt- oder Nebenfach. Das Hauptseminar ist insbesondere für Studierende mit besonderem Interesse an physisch-geographischen Fragestellungen gedacht. Vorausgesetzt werden die bestandene Zwischenprüfung in Geographie bzw. entsprechende Module in den Bachelorstudiengängen und die Kenntnis der Stoffgebiete der Allgemeinen Physischen Geographie (Klimageographie, Geomorphologie und Biogeographie).

Unterichtssprache und Prüfungsform / Working language and type of examination

This course will be fully taught in English. You can sign in for this course according to the three different options:

  • in-depth lecture (Vertiefungsvorlesung); oral examination
  • main seminar (Hauptseminar); written essay and oral presentation
  • additonal course (Ergänzungsbereich); only participation during lecture hours

In any case your ability in speaking, writing and reading Englsih is not subject of an assessment for your performance within this course.


Generelle Anforderungen/ overall requirements


  • regelmäßige Teilnahme am Seminar / regular attendance during course hours


Themen und Inhalte / topics and contents

In November 2009, just one month before the United Nations Climate Change Conference at Copenhagen (COP15), a website was hacked at the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. The information released was claimed to show the weaknesses of the global warming trend evidence as presented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (4AR). This episode, known as 'Climategate´, escalated into a major skepticism toward global warming and its anthropogenic attribution. Shortly thereafter a major error was discovered in a section of IPCC 4AR dealing with Himalayan glaciers, citing incorrectly that in 2035 a major part of the Himalayan glaciers would disappear, whereas the correct date should have been 2350. Moreover, the IPCC report stated that nearly one billion  people would be affected by water scarcity as the rivers from these glaciers would dry out. As a result of these events detailed scientific scrutinies of the IPCC 4AR have been started by several governments and private organisations. In this seminar we will examine the original reports and evidence that generated the Climategate controversy, and some of the ethical and scientific/extra-scientific reasons involved. We will present a global approach to the mountain glaciers of the world (not only the Himalayan), their present and predicted trends, and the anticipated effects downstream due to their future downwasting.

If you have registered for this course as a main course "Hauptseminar" please find here the assingment of the topics:

  • Climate change: natural forcings vs. anthropogenic forcings (Sabine Fritz)
  • The cryosphere, a unique component within the Earth system (Claudia Deiss)
  • Fundamentals of glacier physics (Anna Faber)
  • A palaeo perspective of glacial advances and retreats (open)
  • Present distribution and extent of mountain glaciers in the world (LI, Miao)
  • Sea level rise and the influence of mountain glaciers (Anwesha Bhattacharya)
  • The relevance of mountain glaciers as water reservoirs (Malte Hergaden)
  • Melting of Himalayan glaciers and its societal impacts downstream (Aline Bußmann)

Some hints on how to formally prepare an essay (in German language only)