Our Research Programme 2021-2027

Topic 5 "Landscapes of the Future – Preserving Terrestrial Ecosystems, Freshwater Resources, under Natural Dynamics and Global Change"│ GFZ-Participation

Landscapes have to meet a wide variety of demands: They should provide fresh water, food and habitats, but also be functioning ecosystems with intact biodiversity. Our research aims to show ways in which multifunctional landscapes can exist in a balance of human influence and natural dynamics - despite population growth and resource hunger. To this end, we are developing field experiments, observation networks and prediction models of the latest generation.

In the face of rapid global and climatic change and its impacts, there is, among other things, an urgent need to be able to distinguish between natural mechanisms and human-induced processes. We need to understand how processes linking the geosphere, atmosphere and biosphere determine the natural dynamics of the terrestrial surface system and what the principle limits for the stability of this system are. To do this, we aim to elucidate the behaviour of the system as a whole across all timescales of climate and environmental change by combining methods from geodesy, remote sensing, geology, geomorphology, geochemistry, hydrology, ecology, (palaeo-)genetics and geomicrobiology.

The goals of our research are:

  • to describe the dynamics of the Earth's surface in geologically recent warm periods and the effects of past climate changes on the Earth's surface system
  • to document how external forcing by tectonics, climate, ecosystems and human activity affect the shape of the Earth's surface, and to determine how, conversely, we can learn from the shape of the Earth's surface what influences planet Earth is subject to
  • to determine how natural climate and climate variability are reflected in microbial features, weathering and erosion, and what feedbacks exist into climate
  • to clarify the relationships between physical erosion, geomicrobiology and chemical weathering, and their implications for the distribution of microbial life and the transfer of sediment, carbon and nutrients in the Critical Zone
  • to explain trends and variability exchange of trace gases in the Earth-atmosphere and to determine their negative impacts on climate
  • to determine the natural and human drivers of the storage, flow and release of water from catchments and aquifer systems.

Further information Link to T5 (follows shortly)│Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung UFZ

Topic 5-Director (GFZ - kommissarisch)

Bruno Merz
Section Head
Prof. Dr. Bruno Merz
Building C 4, Room 2.14
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1500

Topic 5-Coordinator (GFZ)

Sergiy Vorogushyn
Dr. Sergiy Vorogushyn
Building C 4, Room 2.04
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1519