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Challenge #148

Protecting our habitat.

From the seabed to the edge of craters, and from fields to icebergs; we want to understand the Earth so that we can better predict natural disasters and protect against threats such as the impact of climate change.

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Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis: The Earth shows us again and again what tremendous forces lie dormant within it, yet we still don't fully understand them. At the same time, catastrophes such as droughts, floods, and the global extinction of species show how strongly humans are now interfering with natural processes.

That is why we are examining the Earth system as a whole: Which processes in the soil produce valuable nutrients? How is climate change affecting our coasts? And which approaches help to protect our forests most effectively?

In order to answer questions like these, seven Helmholtz Centers are jointly conducting cutting-edge research in the Research Field Earth and Environment. Our scientists conduct research on a global scale; from the ocean, to the inhabited continents, to the far reaches of the polar regions. For example, our Arctic expedition MOSAiC, the largest ever, received worldwide attention: Researchers on board the POLARSTERN collected data for more than a year. Our experts also make valuable contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and instruments we developed form the core of many early warning systems for natural disasters, such as tsunamis or earthquakes. The knowledge we gain should help to better protect not only the Earth, but also us humans.

Our scientists therefore develop innovative technologies for environmental protection and disaster control, as well as make recommendations for action to politicians. We also analyze how raw materials can be used more sustainably in order to conserve natural resources. And we advise communities that need to prepare themselves for the effects of climate change; be it extreme heat, storms, drought, or heavy rain.

In this way, our research helps to limit damage as far as possible; for us, and for our planet.

Image: Catherine Delahaye/GettyImages

Women of Arctic Science

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