Department 5: Processes on the Earth Surface
The georesources soil and water, in addition to climate dynamics and landscape development are our current research topics. The pedosphere as the skin of the earth is the actual environment in which we live. We study the processes involving soil, water and air that have their confluence here, and the interactions between them which affect the landscape. We investigate natural climate dynamics and the forcing factors contributing to them from human influence. For this purpose, we evaluate classical terrestrial climate archives such as tree rings and annual sediment layers in lakes and oceans. We develop new, high resolution sedimentological, geochemical and and geophysical methods to decode the climate of the past. One special focus of our work deals with abrupt climate change and its causes. We also analyse how the frequency of extreme weather events, like floods and droughts, is affected by changing climate conditions. For our work we use geoarchives with good annual resolution for which we develop precise age models.
We are working to improve on the quantification of the water cycle and its changes over time and space. Toward that goal, we first analyse heterogeneous datasets, that were collected using very different methods by different specialties, like geophysics, geodesy or remote sensing. Then we integrate these datasets with hydrological models of various scales in space and time – from local to global, from hours to decades. In another focus area, we develop methods to quantify risk, as well as for risk management in hydrological extreme events.