Investigation Sites



The Parthe watershed (366 km²), a subbasin of Weiße Elster river basin, is situated southeast of Leipzig (Saxony) in the Leipzig lowlands. The Parthe river flows into the Weiße Elster river at Leipzig.

Weisse Elster

Weisse Elster
The Weisse Elster river basin covers an area of about 5,300 km². The basin shares parts of the Elstergebirge mountains (Southern Vogtland, 724 m a.s.l.), the Saxonian Mountains, the Saxonian-Thuringian hills as well as the Leipzig lowlands when reaching its outlet.


The Saale River is one of the main tributaries of the Elbe River. The length of the Saale River is about 320 km and the drainage basin area is about 24,000 km². Topography of the basin is heterogeneous with elevation varying between 50 m a.s.l. and about 1100 m a.s.l.


The catchment area of the middle River Mulde (2,700km²) is situated in the western part of the German state of Saxony, in the loess region. The Mulde river basin has been affected several times by floods, with a catastrophic event in 2002.


Leipzig-Halle region
The Leipzig-Halle region has been experiencing both population growth and decline side-by-side, with new development continuing despite pre-existing brownfields and high vacancy rates.

Nordwestlicher Auenwald bei Leipzig (Foto: Andre Künzelmann)
Leipziger Auwald

The study site “Burgaue” is located in the north westernpart of Leipzig (Saxony, Germany). It is largely even, at an altitude ofbetween 100 m and 140 m a.s.l and covers a total area of 2.18 km².The average annual rainfall is 557 mm with a maximum insummer. The potential natural vegetation would be an oak-elmfloodplain forest. Due to a strong reduction in the flooding frequency resultingin a lowering of the ground water level there is an on-going gradualshift to an oak-hornbeam forest (Galium-carpinetum stachyetosum). Leipzig’s floodplain forest can be consid-ered as an outstanding rare, near natural forest community due toits high number of tree species and its structural and age class diversity. The dominating tree species in decreasing order according totheir abundances are European ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.), Englishoak (Quercus robur L.), Sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus L.),European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus L.) and Small-leaved lime(Tilia cordata Mill.). Associated projects: Within ESCALATE

Kreinitz, Roßlau
A multidisciplinary research platform has been established in the UNESCO Biosphere reserve Middle Elbe Different scientific groups inside and outside the UFZ are working together to understand floodplain ecology, functioning and management.
aeriel view Bad Lauchstädt

Bad Lauchstädt

Associated Projects: GCEF , Arboretum

Central Germany
Central Germany
The region Central Germany comprises the federal states of Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thüringen and covers 55,000 km². The population of currently 10 Mio people is shrinking since the 1990ies, except in the two largest cities Dresden and Leipzig.
Northern Harz foreland, Harz gradient

The study site is located in Saxony-Anhalt, central Germany. Mean air temperature is 9.44°C and annual precipitation is 600.38 mm (data from DWD for the years 2010–2013). Crop fields with average size of around 9 ha cover almost 56% of the total 1,225 km². Mean ground elevation of most agricultural areas is around 200 m, except for around 15% of the fields which are located in the Harz Mountains. Major crops were winter wheat (49.2%), winter oilseed rape (12.4%), winter barley (10.1%), sugar beet (3.9%), and silage maize (3.8%) (average percentages of total crop area for 2010–2014). In general, the sowing dates of the summer crops ranged from early April to mid-May, depending on weather and soil moisture conditions. The winter crops were normally planted between late August and late October and emerged before winter.
Associated projects: EnMAP , s. also Intensive test site Schäfertal

Hohes Holz
Hohes Holz, Großes Bruch

The forest site "Hohes Holz" is situated in central Germany near the Harz Mountains in a temperate climate. The site is part of the interdisciplinary and long-term research programs TERENO and ICOS . The ecosystem of "Hohes Holz" is a deciduous forest with a size of around 15 km². The vegetation within one MODIS pixel around the tower consists of 50% oak, 45% beech, 2.5% birch and 2.5% clearings, whereas the area within 30 m around the tower had a higher amount of clearings (10%) and birch (4%) and less oak (44%) and beech (42%). Associated projects: PhenoS , Satellite Validation station , BfN , Helmholtz Alliance "Earth System Dynamics" .


Germany and Europe

Ecopotential focuses its activities and pilot actions on a targeted set of internationally recognised Protected Areas in Europe, European Territories and beyond. These Protected Areas include mountain, arid and semi-arid, and coastal and marine ecosystems, blending Earth Observations from remote sensing and field measurements, data analysis and modelling of current and future ecosystem conditions and services.



Mexico (with a size of 1.9 million km² about 5.5 times as large as Germany) features a very complex geological setting and has a strong climatic north-south gradient. Due to its great environmental heterogeneity and its location on the boundary between two biogeographic regions the country belongs to the global biodiversity hotspots.

Legambo Tincha

Ethiopian highlands
Vast areas of Ethiopia are highlands with altitudes up to 4400m a.s.l.. Our research activities take place in the northern highlands of the Amhara region that are characterized by rough topography, frequent droughts, high population densities and significant land degradation. Besides, we conduct research in the south-western highlands, a major forest area in Ethiopia.