Thomas Kalbacher

Dr. Thomas Kalbacher

Deputy Head of Department and Workgroup Leader of Hydroinformatics

Department of Environmental Informatics
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Permoserstr. 15
04318 Leipzig, Germany

phone +49 341 235 - 1093

Research Interests

My interest is the software development of simulation and analysis tools to study the use and protection of natural hydrogeological systems.

Our soils and the underlying rocks have many functions. Humus, mineral soil and rock, i.e. the upper layers, protect the groundwater from substances of all kinds, filter it and thus keep it clean.
But also the deeper rock layers that are home to our aquifers sustainably purify our groundwater, which then feeds our lakes and rivers again or serves us directly as drinking water resources. The shallow and deep underground is habitat, water reservoir, water filter and basis for our nutrition. Its tasks are manifold and without it, our neighboring ecosystem and our entire food chain would not function either.
But, like everywhere else in life, benefit and protection are often in conflict. Industrial and agricultural interests often, and mostly rightly so, collide with ecological concerns and restrictions.
Model studies can help to solve such conflicts and bring about decisions. In the age of digitization, we now have completely different technical possibilities and resources at our disposal than this was the case ten years ago.
Entire infrastructures with modern high-performance computers allow us to study much larger and much more complex systems. This is also important because the spatial and temporal availability of observation data, whether from local measuring stations, overflights and surveys or satellite-based observations, poses great technical challenges for simulations and analyses. This concerns data collection, data integration and data preparation as well as model simulations and result evaluation (e.g. by uncertainty analyses).
The procedures and workflows for these tasks are complex and time-consuming, and must therefore be developed in a goal-oriented manner, but should also be fundamentally generalized afterwards. This is the only way to develop time-effective but sustainable reusable system analysis tools and not isolated island-solutions. In the working group Hydroinformatics, we try to implement exactly this in cooperation with the working group Research Software Engineering and Visualization.


Digital Earth Digital Earth

In the age of digitization, significant advances in Earth system understanding can be achieved through better integration of data and knowledge from different Earth science disciplines and earth compartments into model-driven earth system analysis. The progress and improvement strongly depends on our capabilities of dealing with fast growing multi-parameter data and on our effort employing Data Science methods, adapting new algorithms and developing workflows tailored to . . . . .  more

ESM ESM - Earth System Modelling

The main objective of the project is to develop, evaluate and apply a world-leading Earth system modelling infrastructure - leading into an Earth System Simulator - to provide solutions to grand challenges faced by the Earth and environmental sciences. The project aims to enable the investigation of problems in an integrated manner considering interactions between different Earth system compartments and across scales - from local to global scales, and from weather time scales to millennia and beyond. More information about Digital Earth can be found at:

HGF Logo

Both, Digital Earth and ESM are Future Research Projects of the Helmholtz Association. More Information about the program and the Helmholtz Initiative and Networking Fund can be found HERE.

Publications: [arranged in alphabetical order]