Universität Hamburg

Meteorologisches Institut

Universität Hamburg

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7th FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME - "Ideas" European Research Council Starting Independent Researcher Grant Thermodynamics of the Climate System


The NAMASTE project is developing new theoretical approaches and new diagnostic tools to analyse the structural properties of the climate system, work which could help improve our understanding of the global climate, its properties in past and present conditions, and how it may evolve in the future.

Please find a project overview (interview with project coordinator Prof. Lucarini) here



  • Names of staff: Tamas BodaiSalvatore Pascale, and Jeroen Wouters

  • Names of collaborators: Nicolas IroRobert Boschi, and Davide Faranda

  • Name of the PI's host institution for the project : University of Hamburg

  • Proposal full title: Thermodynamics of the Climate System

  • Proposal short name: NAMASTE

  • Start Date: September 1st 2010

  • Proposal duration in months: 60

  • Total Budget: 1.4 M€


The investigation of the global structural properties of the climate system (CS) plays a central role for the provision of a unifying picture of climate variability and climate change on a large variety of scales and is of outstanding importance for the quest for reliable metrics to be used in the validation of climate models (CMs). The CS can be seen as a complex, non-equilibrium system, transforming potential into mechanical energy as a thermal engine, generating entropy by irreversible processes, and keeping an approximate steady state by balancing the thermodynamic fluxes with the surrounding environment. We move from the thermodynamical perspective pioneered by Lorenz by means of theoretical studies, numerical simulations performed with hierarchies of CMs, ranging from minimal models to state-of-the-art coupled atmosphere-ocean models, and, where possible, observations. We take advantage of both the tools of the phenomenological theory of non-equilibrium thermodynamics and, from a more fundamental point of view, of the recent developments of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, along the lines of the response theory developed by Ruelle. The main goals of this interdisciplinary project can be summarized as follows:

  • Advances in the thermodynamic description of the CS and planetary bodies, re-analysis of the hydrological cycle and of the atmosphere- ocean interaction

  • Thermodynamic re-examination of mechanisms involved in past, present and future climate variability and change with CMs of various degrees of complexity

  • Definition and implementation of a new generation of diagnostic tools for auditing CMs and for analysing observative (satellite) data

  • Application of the response theory and Kramers-Kronig relations to CMs of various degrees of complexity for analysing generalized climate sensitivities and climate response to periodic forcings

  • Analysis of the impact of stochastic perturbations on the statistical properties of the forced and free fluctuations of simplified CMs

  • Study of the climatic tipping points and feedbacks by analysis of the resonances and divergence of the climatic response, and by investigation of the fluctuations of the large scale thermodynamical properties.


Global Expert: Could it be that the Indian monsoon suddenly ends?

Interview with Prof. Valerio Lucarini