Univ. Prof. Dr. Gottfried KIRCHENGAST

Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change (WEGC) and

Institute for Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Meteorology/Institute of Physics

University of Graz

Brandhofgasse 5

8010 Graz, Austria

Tel: 0316-380-8431 (Sekr.- 8470)
Fax:  0316-380-9830



Gottfried Kirchengast, born 1965 in Austria, studied physics, geophysics and meteorology at the University of Graz, Austria. Since 1996 he is head of the Atmospheric Remote Sensing and Climate System Research Group, which he founded, 1998 he received the prestigious START research prize and 2002 he became lead investigator of a European climate satellite mission. In 2003 Kirchengast was appointed full professor at the University of Graz Geophysics Chair (Alfred Wegener’s Chair, originally held by Alfred Wegener, 1924-1930) and since 2005 he is director of the interdisciplinary Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, which he initiated, at the University of Graz (www.wegcenter.at). In parallel he spent many research stays (e.g., in Germany, USA, Australia, China) as well as many short-term visits worldwide. Based on his merits he became in 2008 member and in 2011 lifetime member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, was awarded in 2012 the top research prize of the State of Styria/Austria as well as an adjunct professorship at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University) in Australia, and received in 2016 a lifetime appointment as honorary professor at the National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Kirchengast is also member, often in leading or co-leading roles, of many international and national scientific societies, bodies and panels as well as scientific meeting organizer, reviewer, evaluator, and consultant in many international contexts and projects.


Core research fields of Gottfried Kirchengast are atmospheric remote sensing and climate research. In contributing to these fields he stands among the international pioneers of global Earth observation of the atmosphere by occultation methods and use in atmospheric and climate science, founded the WegenerNet high-density climate station network and associated climate and hydrology change research, has led numerous international projects (e.g., funded by EU, ESA, FWF, FFG) and increasingly engages in research on hydrological extremes in a changing climate and in facilitating research on climate change and sustainable transformation towards a low-carbon and climate-robust economy and society. Based on his research Kirchengast is author or co-author of more than 110 peer-reviewed (ISI) articles and more than 160 further scientific articles and reports as well as of several books. Furthermore he supervised more than 30 PhD students, who he guided to successful completion of their thesis and many of whom are successful also in international careers. As an academic teacher he developed and delivered university courses (lectures, exercises, seminars, etc.) on many topics of geophysics, meteorology, environmental and space physics, modeling and data analysis, and environmental system sciences. He also advised more than 35 MSc students to successful completion of their work and made key contributions to the development and improvement of many study curricula ranging from physics to environmental system sciences.


Main international scientific service activities of Gottfried Kirchengast include:

Member of the International Radio Occultation Working Group (IROWG) of the Coordination Group of Meteorological Satellites (CGMS), supporting the WMO mandates; Member of the ESA/EUMETSAT Radio Occultation Science Advisory Group (incl. Review Editor of its Science Plan); Member of the IIASA Rat (of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis); Executive Director und Director of Science of the Joint Laboratory on Occultations for Atmosphere and Climate of NSSC/CAS Beijing and University of Graz; Co-Chair, International Advisory Board Member, Scientific/Programme Committee Member, Session Organizer etc. for International Conferences and Workshops (e.g., recently OPAC-IROWG 2016, ESA-LPS Prague 2016, ICGPSRO Taipeh 2016, ICG+ Shanghai 2016); Service as speaker of many invited/keynote talks.

At national level, main scientific service activities include:

Head of the WG Climate (“AG Klima”) of the Commission Climate and Air Quality of the Austrian Acedemy of Science (ÖAW-KKL); Head (jointly with Prof. Eva Schulev-Steindl) of the WG Climate Protection Law (“AG Klimaschutz Recht”) of the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) and the ÖAW-KKL; Representative (jointly with W. Winiwarter und A. Fischer) of the ÖAW in the CCCA; Representative for the Austrian Scientific Community in the National Climate Protection Advisory Council (“Nationalen Klimaschutzbeirat”); Review Editor CCCA AG Science Plan; Head of the (HRSM) Project GEOCLIM Data Infrastructure Austria; Adviser in various further national bodies.


Gottfried Kirchengast received numerous awards, including (selected main ones): the “START Preis 1998” for research on “Advanced spaceborne sounding and climate modeling for atmospheric change analysis” (“START” and “Wittgenstein” prizes, the awardees being selected by an international Jury after stringent peer review, are Austria’s most prestigious and best endowed research fund awards); the “Josef-Krainer Würdigungspreis 1999” for exceptional performance in the field of meteorology and geophysics; the “GRAWE Award 2006” for exceptional climate change research and leadership; the “Forschungspreis des Landes Steiermark 2012” (top state research prize of Styria/Austria) for pioneering work on monitoring the climate.


Kirchengast, G., E. Schulev-Steindl, and G. Schnedl (Hg.), Klimaschutzrecht zwischen Wunsch und Wirklichkeit („Climate Change Law between Wish and Reality”), Studien zu Politik und Verwaltung, Vol. 112, Böhlau Publishing (c. 200 pp, forthcoming summer 2017).

Syndergaard, S., and G. Kirchengast, An Abel transform for deriving line-of-sight wind profiles from LEO-LEO infrared laser occultation measurements, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 121, 2525-2541, doi:10.1002/2015JD023535, 2016.

Kirchengast, G., T. Kabas, A. Leuprecht, C. Bichler, and H. Truhetz, WegenerNet: A pioneering high-resolution network for monitoring weather and climate, Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 95, 227-242, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00161.1, 2014.

Steiner, A. K., D. Hunt, S.-P. Ho, G. Kirchengast, A. J. Mannucci, B. Scherllin-Pirscher, H. Gleisner, A. von Engeln, T. Schmidt, C. Ao, S. S. Leroy, E. R. Kursinski, U. Foelsche, M. Gorbunov, S. Heise, Y.-H. Kuo, K. B. Lauritsen, C. Marquardt, C. Rocken, W. Schreiner, S. Sokolovskiy, S. Syndergaard, and J. Wickert, Quantification of structural uncertainty in climate data records from GPS radio occultation, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 1469-1484, doi:10.5194/acp-13-1469-2013, 2013.

Kirchengast, G., and S. Schweitzer, Climate benchmark profiling of greenhouse gases and thermodynamic structure and wind from space, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L13701, doi:10.1029/2011GL047617, 2011.

Lackner, B. C., A. K. Steiner, G. C. Hegerl, and G. Kirchengast, Atmospheric climate change detection by radio occultation data using a fingerprinting method, J. Climate, 24, 5275-5291, doi:10.1175/2011JCLI3966.1, 2011.

Steiner, A. K., G. Kirchengast, B. C. Lackner, B. Pirscher, M. Borsche, and U. Foelsche, Atmospheric temperature change detection with GPS radio occultation 1995 to 2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L18702, doi:10.1029/2009GL039777, 2009.

Ho, S.-P., G. Kirchengast, S. Leroy, J. Wickert, T. Mannucci, A.K. Steiner, D. Hunt, W. Schreiner, S.V. Sokolovskiy, C.O. Ao, M. Borsche, A. von Engeln, U. Foelsche, S. Heise, B. Iijima, Y.-H. Kuo, E.R. Kursinski, B. Pirscher, M. Ringer, C. Rocken, and T. Schmidt, Estimating the uncertainty of using GPS radio occultation data for climate monitoring: Inter-comparison of CHAMP refractivity climate records 2002-2006 from different data centers, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D23107, doi: 10.1029/2009JD011969, 2009.

Gobiet, A., G. Kirchengast, G. L. Manney, M. Borsche, C. Retscher, and G. Stiller, Retrieval of temperature profiles from CHAMP for climate monitoring: intercomparison with Envisat MIPAS and GOMOS and different atmospheric analyses, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 7, 3519-3536, 2007.

Kirchengast, G., U. Foelsche, A. K. Steiner (Eds.), Occultations for Probing Atmosphere and Climate, 408 p., Springer Berlin-Heidelberg, www.springer.com/978-3-540-22350-4, 2004.

Steiner, A. K., G. Kirchengast, and H.-P. Ladreiter, Inversion, error analysis, and validation of GPS/MET occultation data, Ann. Geophys., 17, 122-138, 1999.

Kirchengast, G., Elucidation of the physics of the gravity wave – TID relationship with the aid of theoretical simulations, J. Geophys. Res., 101, 13,353-13,368, 1996.

Kommission Klima und Luftqualität


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