One Research Program: Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future

Climate change, the extinction of species, environmental pollution, and the increasing vulnerability of a technological society to natural disasters are among the greatest challenges of our time. We take a systemic approach to researching our natural environment – from the land surface and the oceans to the most remote polar regions. After all, it will only be possible to plot a course into a sustainable future with in-depth knowledge of the Earth system, innovative technologies, strategic solutions, and evidence-based recommendations for policymakers.

Seven Helmholtz Centers are collaborating to gather deep insights into the complex relationships between the processes that take place on our planet. What are the causes and effects of global environmental changes? How can natural resources be used sustainably? How can we protect ourselves more effectively from disasters and natural hazards like droughts, heavy rainfall, storms, floods, and earthquakes? We aim to develop solutions and strategies to help humankind adapt to changing environmental conditions, to minimize global threats like climate change, and to understand the potential impact of these risks – not only for the environment but also for the economy and society.

We have therefore organized our research areas into nine topics as well as several cross-cutting activities and alliances. Our aim is to interlink the knowledge generated through this work and promote cooperation between Helmholtz Centers and with national and international partners. To make sure that our research findings are brought to public attention and are able to influence developments in society, we have set up a synthesis and communication platform.

Nine Topics

The atmosphere in global change

Oceans and cryosphere in climate

Restless Earth

Coastal transition zones under natural and human pressure

Landscapes of the future

Marine and polar life

Sustainable bioeconomy


One healthy planet


Participating Centers: 

Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

Forschungszentrum Jülich

GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel

Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon

Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Print Version



"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