Senckenberg Third Pole Environment Office

With a total area of over 5 million km2 and an average elevation of 4000 m, the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions (e.g., the Himalayas) contain the largest store of ice outside the Arctic and Antarctic and is widely regarded as Earth’s Third Pole (TP), third in glacier mass only to the Arctic and the Antarctic. The glaciers of the TP contribute to varying degrees to the base flow of most of Asia’s major rivers. Global climate change has seriously affected land surface processes here, resulting in accelerating environmental degradation and accelerated widespread reduction in the mass balance of most glaciers.  Variations in the mass of these glaciers directly impact water availability in southern and eastern Asia, a region supporting a significant portion of Earth’s population.  Thus, the sustainability of many human and natural systems in the region is now threatened and the threats will grow as instrumental temperature data show that the TP region is warming faster than the surrounding areas.  Conditions in the TP region are of growing concern due to its significant role in global atmospheric circulation and its sensitivity as a first indicator of climate changes. Thus, research on the TP is vital for a better understanding of global climate and environment changes and their impacts on and interactions with human activities.

The good cooperation between the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research will be intensified by the set-up of the Senckenberg Third Pole Environment Office. The office will support Visiting Scientists working on geological, physical, chemical, biological and social systems in and around the Third Pole.  Summer School video lectures about geochemistry and Modelling are offered. Short time visits to China will be supported and qualified postdocs and PhD students from China are invited to carry out research on relevant topics related to the Third Pole.

Third Pole Environment and Senckenberg Society for Nature Research

The Third Pole Environment (TPE)

The Third Pole Environment (TPE) Program was launched in 2009, supported by CAS. The science committee consists of the chair Professor Tandong Yao, Director of the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the co-chair Professor Lonnie G. Thompson, Distinguished University Professor at The Ohio State University and the co-chair Professor Volker Mosbrugger, Director of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research.

The goals are to bring together scientists from all over the world to work together, utilizing interdisciplinary approaches, on water-ice-air-ecosystem-human interaction in the TPE. The focus is on environmental change processes and mechanisms on the Third Pole and their influences and regional responses to global climate changes. Eventually the aim is to support human adaptation to the changing environment.

The Senckenberg Society of Nature Research

For many years research about the Third Pole is conducted at the Senckenberg Society of Nature Research. Particularly three outstanding major projects are coordinated under the lead of the co-chair Professor Volker Mosbrugger, Director of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research:

  • CAME: Central Asia – Monsoon Dynamics and Geo-Ecosystems (coordination by Senckenberg)
  • CAME II: Crossing Climatic Tipping Points – Consequences for Central Asia (coordination by Senckenberg)
  • TIP, Tibetan Plateau: Formation – Climate – Ecosystems (Co-leader Prof. Mosbrugger)

Visiting Scientists, Postdocs and PhD students

Senckenberg Third Pole Environment Office is offering support for scientists working on all research topics regarding the special situation of the Third Pole.

The office will assist scientists planning to go for short time visits (summer schools, meeting etc.) to China and help students to find Postdoc and PhD positions at the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research and institutions in China respectively. Thus the office will support students in applying for funding (e.g. DAAD, Humboldt Research Fellowship) and assist finding supervisors for early stage researchers.  In that way we like to increase the network of scientists and international cooperation  addressing  the  importance  of integrated  environmental research in the Third Pole region.