Helmholtz Association

Research Field Earth and Environment

Our goal is to understand the System Earth to ensure that our home planet remains ecologically stable and the climate equilibrium is not knocked out of balance. Helmholtz researchers search for sustainable solutions for the co-existence of industrial society and the natural environment.

Goals and Roles

ZoomLena River Delta - Landsat 2000 05, Image: Alfred-Wegener-Institut
Lena River Delta - Landsat 2000 05, Image: Alfred-Wegener-Institut

It focuses on expanding and interconnecting long-term observation systems, improving predictions and applying results within society. One special goal is to formulate scientifically based policy recommendations on how the Earth’s resources can be used in a sustainable fashion without destroying the foundations of life. For example, REKLIM, a Helmholtz climate initiative, brings together the expertise of nine Helmholtz centres in an effort to improve regional and global climate models. In the Water Science Alliance, Helmholtz experts work together with universities and other partners to investigate the impact of global change on water resources. An important aim is to establish and operate infrastructure and facilities such as the HALO research aircraft and the TERENO network. This latter project involves the construction of terrestrial observatories in four selected regions in Germany. Within the scope of the COSYNA project, a longterm observation system will be created for the German North Sea and later extended to Arctic coastal waters.

Outlook

To meet the challenges, the research field Earth and Environment will continue to pool the capacities of the participating centres within shared research portfolios. This strategy will lead to new alliances and facilitate the expansion of Earth observation and knowledge systems as well as integrated modelling approaches. The interdisciplinary portfolio project “Earth System Knowledge Platform – Observation, Information and Transfer” will integrate the knowledge acquired by all the centres in this research field and by their partners. It aims to help society to cope with the complex challenges brought about by changes in the Earth system. The incorporation of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel into the Helmholtz Association has significantly expanded its research spectrum.

Research Programmes


Geosystem

This programme analyses processes in the geosphere and their interaction with the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere.

More details about Research Programme Geosystem


Marine, Coastal and Polar Systems Programme

This programme concentrates on changes in the Arctic and Antarctic, their interaction with the global climate and polar ecosystems, vulnerable coasts and shelf seas and the polar perspective of Earth system analysis.

More details about Research Programme Marine, Coastal and Polar Systems


Oceans

This interdisciplinary programme examines the physical, chemical, biological and geological processes in oceans as well as the interactions between these processes and both the ocean floor and the atmosphere.

More details about Research Programme Oceans


Atmosphere and Climate Programme

The goal of this programme is to better understand the function of the atmosphere within the climate system. Topics are Clouds and Weather Research, Land Surface Processes, Tropospheric Trace Gases and Chemical Processes and  the Upper Troposphere and Middle Atmosphere.

More details about Research Programme Atmosphere and Climate


Terrestrial Environment Programme

The goal of this programme is to preserve the natural foundations of human life and health. It addresses the effects of global  change and climate change on terrestrial environmental systems.

More details about Research Programme Terrestrial Environment

The programmes in the funding period 2014-2018

Eight Helmholtz centres currently participate in the research field Earth and Environment: the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Forschungszentrum Jülich, the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (since 2012), the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG), the Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Research is currently being conducted in five programmes:

Research Programmes


Geosystem

This programme analyses processes in the geosphere and their interaction with the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere.

More details about Research Programme Geosystem


Marine, Coastal and Polar Systems Programme

This programme concentrates on changes in the Arctic and Antarctic, their interaction with the global climate and polar ecosystems, vulnerable coasts and shelf seas and the polar perspective of Earth system analysis.

More details about Research Programme Marine, Coastal and Polar Systems


Oceans

This interdisciplinary programme examines the physical, chemical, biological and geological processes in oceans as well as the interactions between these processes and both the ocean floor and the atmosphere.

More details about Research Programme Oceans


Atmosphere and Climate Programme

The goal of this programme is to better understand the function of the atmosphere within the climate system. Topics are Clouds and Weather Research, Land Surface Processes, Tropospheric Trace Gases and Chemical Processes and  the Upper Troposphere and Middle Atmosphere.

More details about Research Programme Atmosphere and Climate


Terrestrial Environment Programme

The goal of this programme is to preserve the natural foundations of human life and health. It addresses the effects of global  change and climate change on terrestrial environmental systems.

More details about Research Programme Terrestrial Environment

Initiatives in the Research Field Earth and Environment

In the following, a selection of initiatives in the research field Earth and Environment are presented:

Climate Service Center 2.0

A team of natural scientists, economists, political scientists and communication-specialists are working at the Climate Service Center 2.0. Their tasks are refining the knowledge derived from climate research in a practice-orientated way and conveying the findings to decision-makers in politics, administration, economy and for the broad public.

More details about the Climate Service Center 2.0


European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA)

The European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA) is an association of leading European research institutions in the field of climate research. ECRA has the objective to bring together to expand and to optimize European expertise in climate research by sharing existing national research capacities and infrastructures.

More details about the European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA)


Helmholtz Network REKLIM (Regional Climate Change)

The Earth is currently subject to profound climate change. The observed increase in global air and ocean temperatures, the melting of snow and ice and the rising sea level indicate a significant warming of the Earth in recent decades. However, the impacts of climate change can regionally be highly different. Within the framework of the Helmholtz Network "Regional Climate Change" (REKLIM) nine Research Centres of the Helmholtz Association focus their competences in exploring the regional climate. The networks research activities will help to improve the understanding of regional processes and therefore contribute to optimise mitigation and adaptation strategies.

More details about REKLIM


Regional Climate Offices of the Helmholtz Association

The effects of global climate change on particular regions vary significantly. Farmers, coastal engineers, town planners and other decision makers need first-hand information on regional climate change in order to adapt their region to the effects. The Helmholtz Association has therefore decided to initiate a German network of regional climate offices. Each of the four Regional Helmholtz Climate Offices is focusing on a certain region. We integrate regional climate change information based on latest research projects and make scientific results understandable to the public.

More details about Regional Climate Offices of the Helmholtz Association


TERENO - Terrestrial Environmental Observatories

The infrastructure measure TERENO is an observation platform which combines a variety of terrestrial observatories in selected and for Germany representative regions. The observatories continuously provide spatially and temporally distributed measured long-term data to support the further development and validation of integrated process models of terrestrial systems.

More details about "TERENO - Terrestrial Environmental Observatories"

Insights into Research Field Earht and Environment

Here, we present projects currently being carried out by scientists at the Helmholtz Centres.


Water research in containers

MOBICOS-ContainerAlthough targeted efforts to improve water quality have been underway for decades, only about 10 percent of water bodies are in good ecological condition as defined by the European Water Framework Directive.

weiterlesen "Water research in containers"


The "Helgoland roads" time series

Forschungskutter AadeA single hot summer is not necessarily a sign of a longterm trend, nor is a single large algal bloom.

weiterlesen "The "Helgoland roads" time series"


The gravitational field through the seasons

GeoidThe Earth’s gravity not only differs from place to place, but fluctuates with the seasons and changes permanently.

weiterlesen "The gravitational field through the seasons"


Ores from the ocean

HydrothermalquelleMinerals such as copper, zinc, silver and gold occur along the boundaries of tectonic plates at the bottom of the sea, where smoking vents spew out large amounts of metal sulphur compounds that are then deposited on the seafloor in the form of massive sulphides.

weiterlesen "Ores from the ocean"


Using land, preserving ecosystems

ReislandschaftMore than 40 percent of the terrestrial surface of the Earth is used by humans for agriculture, animal grazing, infrastructure and settlements.

weiterlesen "Using land, preserving ecosystems"


The effects of thawing permafrost on climate change

MesseinrichtungAbout a quarter of the Earth’s surface in the northern hemisphere is underlain by soil that is frozen throughout the year.

weiterlesen "The effects of thawing permafrost on climate change"


North sea storm surges and climate change

Deutsche BuchtFuture changes in the height of storm surges on Germany's North Sea coast will be determined by rises in the mean sea level and wind climate changes in the German Bight.

weiterlesen "North sea storm surges and climate change"

Contact

Prof. Dr. Georg Teutsch

Research Field Coordinator Earth and Environment

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Permoserstr. 15
04318 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 235-0
Fax: +49 341 235-1468
gf (at) ufz.de
http://www.ufz.de


Dr. Cathrin Brüchmann

Research Field Earth and Environment

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 30 206329-45
cathrin.bruechmann (at) helmholtz.de


 

"Taking the pulse of the planet"

Brochure of the Helmholtz Earth Observatory Network

21.11.2014