The 2018 Hans Oeschger Medal is awarded to Hubertus Fischer for his innovative development and use of analytical techniques to measure chemical compounds and gas concentrations and their isotopic compositions in polar ice cores.
Hubertus Fischer obtained his PhD in physics from the University of Heidelberg (Germany) in 1997. After a postdoctoral stay at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he returned to Germany to take up a position at the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research, where he was promoted to Senior Scientist in 2001. In 2008 he was appointed Full Professor of Climate Physics at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern in Switzerland. Fischer is an outstanding scientist and research leader who combines experimental skill in developing innovative analytical methods in ice-core research with insightful analyses of palaeoclimate records, in particular gas concentration and isotopic composition records. In addition, he has excelled in work on measuring and interpreting high-resolution chemical records based on polar ice cores, extending tens to hundreds of thousands of years. With these records he has deepened the understanding of atmospheric circulation and land surface processes during the last ice age.
Fischer has shown international leadership both in science and community service. He was the driving force and lead author of one of the key papers produced by the EPICA Consortium in which they identified the one-to-one relationship of northern and southern abrupt climate changes and so provided the unequivocal proof of the characteristic fingerprint of the thermal bipolar seesaw.
Fischer has established himself as a worldwide leader in measuring and applying stable isotopes of greenhouse gases, measured on air trapped in polar ice cores, to quantify and understand processes in the coupled physical-biogeochemical Earth system. These measurements have pushed the scientific frontiers significantly and have inspired numerous modelling studies, some of which have emerged in collaboration with Fischer. Fischer’s scientific excellence is further exemplified in the fact that he has been awarded two consecutive Advanced Grants by the European Research Council, Europe’s most coveted and highly competitive research grants.
Fischer has also contributed significantly to community service by being a member of steering committees of multinational efforts to plan, coordinate and support ice core palaeoclimatology, such as IPICS (International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences) and EuroPICS. From 2011 to 2016 he was Co-Chair for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme/Future Earth Core Project Past Global Changes (PAGES) and has effectively lead this international and interdisciplinary effort. He continues to contribute his expertise to the international community by serving as the new Co-Chair of IPICS.