How cloudy is the Earth?

It has been heretofore understood that patterns of cloudiness are controlled by large scale weather systems. Bjorn Stevens challenges this orthodoxy, arguing that small and intermediate scales of motion play a key role in determining the Earth’s cloudiness.

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Why did you choose Germany as a research destination?

Germany was attractive as a research destination because the opportunities for research provided by the Max Planck Society are unparalleled.  On a private level Germany was attractive because relatively speaking it is a functioning civil society with strong public support for basic needs, from transportation to schools; family connections to Germany also made it an attractive destination.

What was your first impression of Germany, the German culture and its people?

I have a longer affiliation with Germany and German culture, I was born here as my father was stationed in south Germany, so my first impressions have since become muted. 

Did you encounter any difficulties while settling in in Germany?

Nothing comes to mind.  It took some time to find good Bagels, but eventually even that problem was resolved. Not to make light of the difficult topic of integration, I also have a privileged position and have a personal background that makes integration easy, which perhaps made my situation less challenging.

Do you have tips for other international researchers who are thinking about coming to Germany or cooperating with researchers in Germany?

Don't underestimate the opportunities that Germany provides to pursue basic research. In my experience these are incomparable to what is offered elsewhere. It is possible to earn a higher salary in some countries, but no other country offers a better and less bureaucratic research environment, both through its support for infrastructure and through the trust it places in those pursuing basic research. 

Short and crisp: What is your favourite

  • German word: Plötzlich
  • German dish: Labskaus (not really), more likely Rotkohl and Sauerbraten, or Rinderrouladen, Weißwurst with Tap5, or Berliner Schinkenknacker with a Feige
  • piece of German culture: The bicycle, or for something more high-brow, the Passionsspiele Oberammergau (which I was recently introduced to by a former doctoral student); then again, an evening that turns into a night in one of Germany's many unpretentious restaurants, run by people who are interested in making a living, not money.


Find out more about Bjorn Stevens and his research project on the Latest Thinking website: