Meet our scientist: Sophie Stolzenberger

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Today we speak with Sophie Stolzenberger who works at the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation in Bonn. 

How did you become interested in studying Greenland?

During my graduate studies in meteorology, I learned a lot about the climate of the past. I found it fascinating to see that the Greenland ice sheet could hold so much climate information over the last thousands of years preserved in ice cores. Climate reconstructions based on those long-term records help us to understand past climate trends and to assess climate variability nowadays. I think you are probably quite impressed when you see pictures or videos of a calving glacier. The dynamics behind such events, the increased rate of Greenland ice mass loss, especially in the last 25 years, and its impact on the North Atlantic for present and future climate scenarios are very exciting topics.

What do you contribute to GROCE?

In GROCE, my colleagues and I simulate the effects of Greenland freshwater on the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean by running a global coupled sea ice ocean model. Temperature and salinity variations, including the deeper layers of the ocean, can be simulated as well as ocean currents and circulations. In addition to the simulations, we also include observational data from satellite missions in our analyses, such as sea surface heights measured by altimeter satellites (e.g. Envisat, Cryosat 2) and gravimetric data measured with GRACE (Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) and its follow-on mission GRACE-FO. The latter helps us to observe and explain ocean mass variations. With all these components, we will, among other things, estimate how global and regional sea level is affected by the melting processes of Greenland. 

What is special for you about the GROCE project?

The project is so interdisciplinary with scientists working in the fields of oceanography, glaciology, geodesy, meteorology etc. Meeting all of the participants is quite inspiring. I think the different areas of expertise will benefit from each other when studying such a complex topic as with GROCE.                                               

Have you ever joined an expedition?

Unfortunately not, but I would like to join when a possibility opens up. Colleagues, who have expedition experience, emphasise how valuable the experiences have been. I could imagine that practical experience and observation outside of the office, give a different and important perspective - as long as one does not get seasick…

What are you most passionate about within your work?

What I really like about my work in GROCE is that the topic itself is so relevant in today’s rapidly changing world. I can simulate what happens at the moment in an area where we cannot stay for a longer period and where observations are comparatively rare. In times of warming climate, the public gets more and more interested in climate change studies and this is something that highly motivates me.