Helmholtz Integrated Earth Observing System Project

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The context

Continued growth of the world’s population, the resulting intensified exploitation of our planet and its resources, and the increasing susceptibility of society to natural disasters all call for sustained and internationally agreed activity to preserve our living environment. Earth is a dynamic planet subject to constant change caused by a variety of endogenous and exogenous forces and processes and characterized by interactions and exchanges among the geosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. In order to comprehend this space in which we live, we have to consider Earth as a system and analyze its functioning globally as well as regionally. It is also necessary to evaluate the effects of human activity and interference with the natural equilibria and processes of this highly complex system.

Goal of the research network
The network is intended to facilitate the work of scientists in depicting and modeling these processes spatially and temporally at high resolution and in monitoring the status and trends of the Earth system. The physical and chemical tolerances of processes critical for human life also need to be defined, and long-term monitoring undertaken of global, regional and local changes.

Thanks to their expertise, science infrastructure and major facilities the Helmholtz centers AWI, GKSS, DLR and GFZ have the necessary preconditions for jointly pursuing crucial research topics in this context and achieving added value. The Helmholtz Research Fields "Earth and Environment" and "Transport and Space" are being linked to create an "Integrated Earth Observing System." Its purpose is to concentrate expertise and share infrastructure and data, initially in the according research programs.

These activities are financed from the resources each participating center contributes toward the work it carries out in the individual research programs of the network. Coordination of topics and allocation of resources are handled by the network's steering committee. Within the research topics "Land Surface Processes", "Disaster Management" and "Atmospheric Water Cycle" the network cooperates with the United Nations University Bonn, the University of Hamburg, Biocenter “Klein Flottbek” and the University of Karlsruhe. The HFG-EOS network was funded by the Helmholtz Association and the participating institutes. The duration of the first project phase was 2005-2008. It was followed by a second phase from 2009-2011 with the name Network-EOS.