Prof Christian Haas
Head of the Sea-ice Physics Division at the AWI
Christian studied Geophysics and is specialised in the application of geophysics techniques to the remote sensing of sea ice. He decided to pursue this specialisation during his studies, when he began investigating near-surface layers, and realised the skills he had gained in the process could be readily applied to research on sea ice.
As Head of the Sea-ice Physics Division at the AWI, he coordinates the division’s various projects and contributions, while also serving in an advisory role as needed. Though Christian has a broad range of expertise, his research has especially focused on e.g. measuring ice thickness and remote sensing.
Given the fact that sea ice is an important indicator for human influences on climate change, he hopes that his work for meereisportal.de will help to spark more public interest in this research area, while also offering users a source of reliable, objective information.
What additional opportunities does the combination of experts from various fields at meereisportal.de offer?
Fundamentally speaking, I have the feeling that it has helped stimulate more discussions and exchange among all of us contributors, and that we also learn more from one another as a result; so you see, it truly does promote interdisciplinary communication. Needless to say, there was also a degree of collaboration before the portal, but it also gives us a way to present collaborative efforts to the public.
Which abilities help you most in your work?
First of all, you have to be able to analyse information objectively and quantitatively, and to understand the underlying mathematical and physical principles – which is actually fun, because it’s the only real way to answer open questions. But another important aspect of my work is communication. Though it could be argued that mathematics is also a language of sorts, not everyone understands it. That’s why it’s important to ‘translate’ the outcomes for the public, which is also one of the core aspects of meereisportal.de. To help us do so, we have, for example, the data portal and also integrate the data into our sea-ice maps and news items.
How important is the emotional aspect in terms of presenting your findings to the public, and what do you consider the role of meereisportal.de to be in this regard?
Most likely, making an emotional connection is the only feasible way to make this kind of topic more important to society at large. Nevertheless, the role of meereisportal.de should be to focus on the facts, and leave out any emotional aspects. Our focus is on science, which means we shouldn’t try to polarise the debate, but should instead present our information as objectively as possible and explain, for instance, why the sea ice is retreating, and what the interactions are between the processes involved. After all, it’s a highly complex field of research, and we still haven’t identified or grasped all the connections.
With my work, I hope to…
… help arrive at new findings on sea ice.