Messturm Hohes Holz. Foto: André Künzelmann/UFZ

Data, Observatories and Modelling Projects

Content overview

Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems - MOSES

Dr. Claudia Schütze ( )

MOSES is a novel observing system of the Helmholtz Association, developed by the Helmholtz Centres in the research field “Earth and Environment”. It comprises highly flexible and mobile observation modules which are specifically designed to investigate the interactions of short-term events and long-term trends across Earth compartments.

Heat waves, hydrological extremes, ocean eddies and permafrost thaw will be in the focus of this new event-oriented observation and research initiative. 

Integrated European Long-Term Ecosystem & Socio-Ecological Research Infrastructure - eLTER

Dr. Steffen Zacharias ( )

eLTER H2020 is a major project that will help advance the development of European Long-Term Ecosystem Research infrastructures. The overall aim of the eLTER H2020 project is to advance the European network of Long-Term Ecosystem Research sites and socio-ecological research platforms to provide highest quality services for multiple use of a distributed research infrastructure.

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To achieve this, the LTER-Europe network and the European Critical Zone Observatories (CZO) community will collaborate in eLTER H2020. During the project, 162 sites in 22 countries will provide data on long-term trends in environmental change. Test cases using these data will address a range of environmental and social issues to push innovation in network level services and steer conceptual developments.

eLTER head office is located at UFZ; Leipzig (Turm). 

Terrestrial Environmental Observatories TERENO

Contact: Dr. Steffen Zacharias ( )
Link: TERENO web page

Global change has triggered a number of environmental changes, such as alterations in climate, land productivity, water resources, atmospheric chemistry, and ecological systems. Finding solutions to the impact of global change is one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. TERENO is embarking on new paths with an interdisciplinary and long-term research programme involving six Helmholtz Association Centers.

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The main goal of the infrastructure measure TERENO will be to create observation platforms on the basis of an interdisciplinary and long-term aimed research program with a close cooperation between several facilities of the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft for the investigation of consequences of Global Change for terrestrial ecosystems and the socioeconomic implications. TERENO will provide long-term statistical series of system variables for the analysis and prognosis of Global Change consequences using integrated model systems, which will be used to derive efficient prevention, mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Important system variables are amongst others fluxes of water, matter and energy within the continuum of the groundwater-soil-vegetation-atmosphere system, long-term changes of the composition and functioning of micro-organisms, plants and fauna as well as socioeconomical conditions, which have to be determined with an adequate temporal and spatial resolution in dependence of the dynamics of the involved processes.
The complex interrelations and feedbacks of the different parts of the terrestrial systems require an interdisciplinary approach. In this context important questions are:

  • Which consequences have the expected climate changes on the terrestrial compartments (groundwater, soils, vegetation, surface waters)?
  • In which way will the feedbacks of the exchange processes of terrestrial systems (e.g. feedbacks between land surface and atmosphere) affect the terrestrial fluxes of water and matter?
  • Which direct influences have soil and landuse changes (e.g. due to EU Cross Compliance Directive, promotion of energy crops) on water balance, soil fertility, biodiversity and regional climate?
  • What are the consequences of large anthropogenic interferences (e.g. open mining, deforestation) on terrestrial systems?

Advanced Earth System Modeling Capacity (ESM)

Contact: Prof. Olaf Kolditz ( )

The ESM project started on 1 April 2017 funded by the Helmholtz Association over a period of three years. The project comprises eight Helmholtz Research Centers and aims to improve the representation of the components of the Earth system and their coupling, as well as to perform a series of selected numerical experiments to address Grand Challenges (Frontier Simulations).

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The development of a long-term strategy for Earth System Modelling capacity is also an objective of the project (link to national ESM strategy). The UFZ is involved into the ESM project by developing new Earth system models with focus on enhancing descriptions of terrestrial and geosphere compartments and conducting frontier simulations for European hydro-meteorological extremes and cross-compartmental matter cycling from the land to the sea as well as in geo-reservoirs.

Digital Earth - Towards SMART Monitoring and Integrated Data Exploration of the Earth System - Implementing the Data Science Paradigm

Contact: Dr. Thomas Kalbacher ( )

Digital Earth has been strategically initiated by all eight centres of the Helmholtz research field Earth and Environment. Digital Earth is funded with EURO 5 million plus EURO 5 million co-financed from all eight E&E centres. The project is coordinated by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

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Digital Earth is directly linked to two other HGF initiatives MOSES 'Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems' and ESM 'Earth System Modelling'. Significant advances in Earth system understanding will only be achieved through better integration of data and knowledge from the different Earth science disciplines and Earth compartments. Improvement in this field 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 digital workflows tailored to specific scientific needs.

The UFZ is involved into the project by follwoing topics:

  • matching monitoring/observation approaches with cross-compartmental needs
  • improving Data-Flow Framework from Sensor to Data-Exploration
  • visual data exploration; discussing workflows, practices, demands and solution
  • data provision and quality
  • computational/machine learning data exploration
  • software architecture-concept for Digital Earth and beyond
  • developing collaborative framework for operating technical platforms
  • establishing structures and strategies for joint data driven science within E&E and other partners and others. 

Center for Advanced System Understanding - CASUS

Contact: Prof. Sabine Attinger ( )
Link: CASUS website

CASUS is to become the centre for digital interdisciplinary systems research in Germany. It aims to create digital, dynamic "worldviews" of complex systems that combine large amounts of data about these systems with novel methods of modelling such systems in order to create a digital image of complex reality based on systems and their interactions and thus be able to make predictions.

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The understanding and predictability of the development of complex systems will become increasingly important in the coming years, e.g. for a better understanding of the development of complex organisms, the long-term development of the Earth system and the development of novel materials, and thus become increasingly important for research as well as for business and decision makers.

The UFZ heads one of the four current research foci: Earth System Science. Research into the entire Earth system must be performed in order to understand the connections between geology, climate, ecology and human influence in the interplay of these complex systems. In this context, an ever-increasing amount of sensor data has to be brought together in real time and compared with models. Improving the predictive power of these models will influence political decisions, economic developments and people's daily lives. Data- and computation-intensive computer models are developed at CASUS that allow the ecological, hydrological and economic effects of global change to be studied in high spatial and temporal resolution and in their complex interactions.

Professional Research Software and Research Software Repository Developments

Development of community computing models (mHM, OpenGeoSys, FORMIND)

Contact: Dr. Luis Samaniego (mHM, ), Prof. Olaf Kolditz (OpenGeoSys, ), Prof. Andreas Huth (FORMIND, )
Link: mHM , OpenGeoSys , FORMIND

Professional community model development has been part of UFZ research for many years now.  Software development is the process of conceiving, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications, frameworks, or other software components. It is a process of writing and maintaining the source code, includes all that is involved between the conception of the desired software through to the final manifestation of the software. It therefore includes research, new development, prototyping, modification, reuse, re-engineering, maintenance, or any other activities that result in software products. Models of Hydrology, Geology and Forest/Gras Land are available.

Modelling Initiatives Water Quality and Transitions Simulator for Land Resources

Contact: Prof. Sabine Attinger (GWQM, ), Prof. Karin Frank (LandTrans, )

The scientific unit is home to two large modelling initiatives dealing with the development of SMART computer simulation models.
One modelling initiative develops a global water quality model (GWQM) based on the hydrological model mHM ( mHM web page ) using an agile approach.
The other initiative develops a family of simulators for landscapes under transition and their multifunctionality (LandTrans).

Both initiatives play a cruial role in the cross-sectional activity of the modellers in the current and future UFZ Research Programme by snythesizing knowlegde and expertise. Furthermore, the UFZ common modelling strategy (SMART) and its applications to the different types of environmental system models is hosted by the experts of these initiatives.