The researcher at the Department of Geology, University of Innsbruck investigates climate data from the “Little Ice Age”

Rudolf Bauer, President of the Weiss Science Foundation, and FWF President Klement Tockner presented the 2018 edition of the Weiss Award to Innsbruck-based geologist Christoph Spötl on 27 March. University Rector Tilmann Märk was also present at the ceremony. The Weiss Award for the promotion of research is funded by the Weiss Research Foundation and administered by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). This is the third time that a scientist from the University of Innsbruck has received the award, the previous winners being Kai Helfricht (2014) and Alexander Gohm (2016).

Professor Spötl’s award-winning project aims to collect data from the so-called “Little Ice Age”, a period of cool and changeable climate lasting from about 1250 to 1850 AD, well before the beginnings of systematic meteorological data collection with scientific instruments. With about EUR 400,000 in funding, the project searches for climate-related information in ice caves in Austria’s Eastern Alpine ranges. Several of the world’s biggest ice caves are located in Austria. These subterranean glaciers are repositories of valuable information which have not hitherto been subject to in-depth scientific studies. But this has become a matter of urgency over the last few decades as the ice cover has greatly diminished in most caves that would be suitable for measurements, to the extent of threatening the continued existence of what may be a unique ecological archive in the Alpine region.

“On behalf of the Weiss Science Foundation, I congratulate Christoph Spötl sincerely on the 2018 Weiss Award,” said Foundation President Rudolf Bauer at the presentation ceremony and underlined that he is “happy to see the purpose of the foundation – the promotion of scientific work in the fields of meteorology and anaesthesiology – so impressively fulfilled year after year.”

“Providing funds for science and research through foundations is an enormously important step towards the further development of a culture of philanthropy in Austria,” said FWF President Klement Tockner in his congratulatory address. “I thank the Weiss Science Foundation for its great trust in the FWF and wish award winner Christoph Spötl huge successes with his exciting project,” Mr. Tockner concluded.

“The fact that Professor Christoph Spötl and his team have met the strict criteria of the Weiss Science Foundation and won the award is fresh evidence of the successful research work being done by the Quaternary research group at the Department of Geology and within the scope of our research focus ‘Alpine region – humans and ecology’. Our special thanks go to the Weiss Science Foundation for supporting – for the third time already – an exciting project of great relevance for all of society. Financial support by foundations is playing a big and growing role for science and research, which is why we are marking our 350th anniversary this year by establishing the University of Innsbruck Foundation,” said Tilmann Märk, Rector of the University of Innsbruck.

The Weiss Award  

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) has managed the annual application and awarding process for the Weiss Award on behalf of the Dr. Gottfried and Dr. Vera Weiss Science Foundation since 2014. The award is presented in the fields of meteorology and anaesthesiology in alternating years. The current call for applications in anaesthesiology and related fields was launched on 1 March 2019 and will remain open until 31 May 2019. For more information, go to:

The Austrian Science Fund FWF

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) is Austria’s central funding organisation for basic research and arts-focussed research. Applying international quality benchmarks, the FWF provides funding for outstanding research projects and excellent researchers who work to generate, broaden and deepen scientific knowledge.

(in German)




Marc Seumenicht
Head of Public Relations and Science Communication | @FWF_at | @FWFOpenAccess

Mag. Melanie Bartos
University of Innsbruck
Public Relations Department
+43 512 507 – 32021

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