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

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. MOSES complements the existing long-term observatories by highly mobile sensor systems that are quickly operational.


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.

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"Taking the pulse of the planet"

Brochure of the Helmholtz Earth Observatory Network


"Integrated research for adressing global water challanges"

Brochure of the Helmholtz Water Network