Mourning the Loss of Atmospheric Climate Researcher Astrid Kiendler-Scharr
7 February 2023
Forschungszentrum Jülich is mourning the loss of Prof. Astrid Kiendler-Scharr. The internationally renowned atmospheric and climate researcher died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of just 49 on 6 February 2023. “With Astrid Kiendler-Scharr, we are losing a smart scientist, a valued colleague, and a dedicated manager. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family. Her work was focused on gaining a better understanding of climate change. It was important to her that knowledge about climate change could also be utilized. This is why she also became involved as chairwoman of the German Climate Consortium (DKK) and as lead author of the latest IPCC report. Astrid Kiendler-Scharr was a passionate, energetic, and thoughtful scientist. She leaves a big void behind her,” said Chair of the Board of Directors Wolfgang Marquardt in tribute.
Astrid Kiendler-Scharr was born in 1973 in Innsbruck and studied physics at the university of her home town. In 1999, she completed a doctoral degree at the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics, attaining the grade “magna cum laude”. After her habilitation at the University of Cologne in 2010, she became director at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Troposphere (IEK-8) at Forschungszentrum Jülich in 2012 and taught experimental physics at the University of Cologne.
As a scientist, Astrid Kiendler-Scharr was particularly focused on the chemistry of aerosols in the Earth’s lower atmosphere and the interactions between atmospheric pollutants and climate change. In doing so, she also tread extraordinary (research) paths: Together with her team, she used a zeppelin as a very flexible instrument carrier for a measurement campaign in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic (2020) to investigate the effects of the lockdown on atmospheric chemistry.
Her expertise was in global demand – both in science and as a partner in countless interviews in the media. She was lead author of the chapter on short-lived climate forcers in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report assessing the link between air quality and climate change. She also made her immense expertise available for publications aimed at a wider audience such as the fact paper “What we know about the climate today”. Kiendler-Scharr was chairwoman of the DKK and one of the founding directors of the Center for Earth System Observation and Computational Analysis (CESOC) in Cologne. From 2014 to 2016, she was president of the association for aerosol research (GAeF) and in 2020 she was chair of the European Aerosol Conference in Aachen.
In addition to her scientific work, Astrid Kiendler-Scharr took on additional tasks and was committed to the further development of Forschungszentrum Jülich. She chaired the Scientific and Technical Council (WTR) from 2018 to 2022 and was WTR vice-chair from 2016 to 2017. As early as 2013, she took on the role of ombudsperson for the “Regulations for Upholding Good Scientific Practice” at Forschungszentrum Jülich.
Astrid Kindler-Scharr's scientific achievements have been recognized time and again, and in 2012 the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres awarded her a Helmholtz Excellence Professorship. Further recognition of her research came in the form of a Visiting Miller Professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, in the first half of 2022.
Anyone wishing to express their grief at the passing of Astrid Kiendler-Scharr can leave an entry in Forschungszentrum Jülich’s electronic book of condolence.