The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Our vision

The future can only be secured by those who understand the System Earth and its interactions with Man: We develop a profound understanding of systems and processes of the solid Earth together with strategies and options for action to address global change and its regional impacts, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, as well as to assess the human impact on System Earth.

Earth System Science for the Future

The GFZ is Germany’s national research center for the solid Earth Sciences. Our mission is to deepen the knowledge of the dynamics of the solid Earth, and to develop solutions for grand challenges facing society. These challenges include anticipating the hazards arising from the Earth’s dynamic systems and mitigating the associated risks to society; securing our habitat under the pressure of global change; and supplying energy and mineral resources for a rapidly growing population in a sustainable manner and without harming the environment.

These challenges are inextricably linked with the dynamics of planet Earth, not just the solid Earth and the surface on which we live, but also the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, and the chemical, physical, and biological processes that connect them. Hence, we view our planet as a system with interacting components. We investigate the structure and history of the Earth, its properties, and the dynamics of its interior and surface, and we use our fundamental understanding to develop solutions needed to maintain planet Earth as a safe and supportive habitat.

Our expertise

In pursuit of our mission, we have developed a comprehensive spectrum of expertise in geodesy, geophysics, geology, mineralogy, geochemistry, physics, geomorphology, geobiosciences, mathematics, and engineering. This is complemented by our deep methodological and technological knowhow and innovation. We are responsible for the long-term operation of expansive instrument networks, arrays and observatories, as well as data and analytical infrastructures. To accomplish our large-scale tasks, we have established MESI, the worldwide unique Modular Earth Science Infrastructure.

Our research is organized in a matrix structure, with disciplinary competences grouped in four scientific departments. The departments guarantee the development and continuity of disciplinary skills, methods, and infrastructures. This is an indispensable foundation for our ability to engage with evolving scientific insights, new technologies, and unexpected, pressing challenges of societal relevance. 

Our Research Programme

Our Research Programme Complementary to this, we at the GFZ are working on five topics in the joint programme of the seven Helmholtz Centres in the Research Field "Earth and Environment". Within the framework of this programme, "Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future", we will be researching the natural foundations of life –extending from the Earth’s surface and the oceans to the remotest polar regions and from the deep interior of planet Earth to the atmosphere – in a systemic approach from the years 2021 to 2027.

The research programme is organised into a total of nine topics as well as numerous cross-cutting activities and alliances. A Synthesis and Communication Platform (SynCom) has been set up so that the results of research can find their way into the public domain and, in this way, influence social developments. SynCom is geared towards dialogue from the very beginning: Societal concerns should likewise be transported into research. The GFZ coordinates two of the nine topics and is involved in three others.

Our research on the move