Research Projects

One goal of the Geoverbund ABC/J is to establish coordinated and cross-location research projects in the ABC/J region. In addition to individual or package proposals, collaborative projects are the focus of the strategic orientation.


Schematische Darstellung einer typischen TERENO-Observatoriumsplattform. Quelle: TERENO

Global change has triggered a number of environmental changes, such as changes in climate, soil productivity, water resources, atmospheric chemistry and ecological systems.

Finding solutions to the impacts of global change is one of the most important challenges of the 21st century.

With an interdisciplinary and long-term research programme involving six centres of the Helmholtz Association, TERENO discovers new paths.


Collaborative Research Centre DETECT

The Collaborative Research Centre DETECT uses the strengths of the University of Bonn and other partners such as the University of Cologne and the Research Centre Jülich to better understand climate change:

Many regions of the world are experiencing increasing precipitation; at the same time, entire continents seem to be drying out. This also affects other variables such as the increase or decrease of water storage in surface reservoirs, soils in the root zone and groundwater.

Measurements indicate that explanatory patterns such as "dry regions will continue to dry out and wet regions will experience more precipitation" (dry-gets-dryer, wet-gets-weather) are not sufficient. Current climate models cannot adequately explain the observed patterns of hydrological change. This SFB has set itself the task of closing this knowledge gap.

Research Projects

Research Initiative “Sharing a Planet in Peril”

The interrelated crises associated with Global Environmental Change (GEC) – including biodiversity loss, climate change and the depletion of soils and waters – are mounting threats to both human and nonhuman life. While the natural sciences provide solid evidence of the magnitude of those threats, the social and cultural dimensions of GEC have received much less attention, although the importance of diverse forms of knowledge, imaginaries and practices in explaining and addressing these threats are increasingly acknowledged.

The research initiative ‘Sharing a Planet in Peril’ conjoins the University of Cologne’s outstanding expertise in Global South Studies and Environmental Humanities to tackle the burning environmental questions of our time. To this end we are building an international and interdisciplinary network of researchers, including scholars and affected communities from the Global South, in order to examine how the inequitable impacts of GEC are being experienced, narrativized, and responded to within different locations, discourses and media around the world. Informed by decolonial and multispecies methodologies and political ecology perspectives, this initiative seeks to uncover in particular the potential of a range of ideas and activities related to ‘sharing’ to facilitate more equitable, ecological and convivial lifeways.

Research Projects

CRC-TRR 228 Future Rural Africa: Future-making and social-ecological transformation

The Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) is a research conglomerate based at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne and funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It aims at understanding African futures and how they are “made” in rural areas by investigating land-use change and social-ecological transformation. 

The first funding phase of the CRC focused on the two seemingly opposite, yet often mutually constitutive processes of agricultural intensification and conservation. This focus is widened in the current phase to include infrastructuring as a third essential process. These processes influence social-ecological transformations in our study areas considerably and are conceptualized as expressions of “future-making”. The projects of the CRC analyse how different approaches to the future inform the politics and practices of large-scale land-use change, and how they relate to each other.

Research Projects

CRC 1211 Earth - Evolution at the Dry Limit

Water is crucial for life on Earth. Understanding life in water-limited areas is challenging. Water-driven processes, seen on Earth and Mars, leave distinct marks. The CRC Earth – Evolution at the Dry Limit explores the interplay between Earth-surface processes and biota in arid to hyper-arid systems, where water limits both. Phase one focused on the Atacama Desert; phase two expands to the Namib Desert, comparing the oldest deserts. Building on progress, the goal is to identify key signs of biological activity and understand Earth-surface processes without liquid water.

The aim is to determine thresholds for colonization and landscape transformation, pinpoint tipping points in Earth-surface systems, and establish climatic records in the oldest, driest zones. Data on biota colonization will be linked to landscape evolution and climate. Phase two aims to create unified models of landscape and biological co-evolution, investigating genetic traits for arid adaptation.

Research Projects

MW³ – Standardized monitoring of growth responses of important forest tree species to climatic extreme events

The main objective of the planned project is the development of a standardized monitoring system and protocol to record and analyze growth responses of important Central European forest tree species with a focus on climatic extremes. The system will be based on existing monitoring platforms and will capture the most important key parameters for a cross-scale growth analysis by closely coupling ground-based measurement data, satellite-based remote sensing and tree modelling. For this purpose, the different growth responses of various forest tree species as well as their variability along a west-east transect and an elevation gradient in the area of the German Central Uplands will be investigated.

A special focus lies on investigating extreme events, especially the increased occurrence of drought and heat waves under the influence of climate change. Based on this, climate sensitivities and growth forecasts for different native and non-native forest tree species will be generated. Furthermore, recommendations for current and future forestry practice will be derived. In order to tailor the system as precisely as possible to the needs of silvicultural practice, close cooperation with relevant actors from research and practice will be established during the project.

Last Modified: 05.02.2024