Petra Langebroek

Petra Langebroek

Senior Researcher / Research Director Earth Systems
Phone: +47 56 10 75 32
Office Address: Jahnebakken 5, 5007 Bergen, Norway


My research focusses on how ice sheets interact with climate. I find it fascinating (and scary at the same time) that we know so little about the behaviour of ice sheets. How stable or rather vulnerable are the present Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets? Are we close to cross - or have we already crossed - a tipping point, where ice will continue to melt even if climate change stabilizes? And how large and (un)stable were ice sheets in the past, during warmer-than-present climates?

I am currently coordinating an EU Horizon 2020 project TiPACCs (see also Projects below) where we investigate how stable the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic ice sheet are. Is either component close to tipping over to a different regime? What if the water below ice shelves becomes relatively warm and the ice sheet experiences a large retreat. Ice loss from Antarctica causes global sea levels to rise, so this important topic needs to be understood better! Curious? Please watch our first video: TiPACCs: Antarctica and Tipping Points

I am also leading, together with my colleague Anna Hughes, one of the 5 new strategic projects of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research entitled RISES. In this project we aim to better understand and quantify rates of ice sheet change. Here we focus on the deglaciation of the Eurasian Ice Sheet as analogue for future Greenland Ice Sheet changes. Additionally we assess the impact of atmospheric forcing (Greenland Blocking) and basal hydrology on the expected future retreat of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

I am furthermore involved in our current efforts to include a dynamic ice sheet model into our Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM). This work is supported by the large infrastructure project INES, and the scientific project KeyCLIM. Both funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

Besides my research, I am also the Research Director of the Earth Systems research group here at NORCE Climate. This group includes approximately 20 researchers with a focus on Earth System Modelling (atmosphere, ocean, ice, biogeochemistry, …).

If you are based in Bergen, and are interested in discussing recent publications dealing with ice sheet dynamics, please consider joining our Ice Dynamics journal club.


Summer 2019 I was so lucky to join a deep ice core drilling campaign in central Greenland. I brought LEGO figures to explain to my family back home how it was to live and work on top of the ice sheet. The EastGRIPninja comic is still available here (in English) and here (in Nynorsk).

If you like to know more about Tipping points related to ice sheets, this presentation (in broken Norwegian!) might be of interest to you: Bjerknessenterets jubileumsseminar (start at 1:10:00).

Super short biography

Since 2017: Research Director of Earth Systems research group

Since 2011: Senior Researcher at Uni Research/NORCE, Bergen (Norway)

2009-2011: PostDoc, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (Germany)

2005-2009: PhD in Geosciences, University of Bremen (Germany)

1999-2005: BSc and MSc in Earth Sciences, University of Utrecht (the Netherlands)