The Project: Analysis of Water Research in Germany

In Germany, water issues take high priority in education and research due to the important practical implications from water supply, to shipping through to ecology. In nearly all German universities of applied sciences and universities, the subject of water is examined from many different perspectives in order to educate specialists for the various water-related tasks. Water research is also conducted by the national and state agencies, as well as non-university research centres. A considerable part of water research and technological development is contributed to by industry and the large public water companies. The segmented structure within the various disciplines of the natural and engineering sciences, as well as the social sciences, has led to great diversity within the field of water research.

Through the project “Analysis of Water Research in Germany” (FKZ 033L039), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, was able to create an inventory of the existing competences and participants in water research in Germany. The project duration was from May 2010 to June 2012. The main result and product of the analysis is this Online Portal for Water Research that provides a comprehensive overview of the German water research institutions, their competences, their regional and thematic focus, the technical equipment and the cooperation networks. Furthermore, educational institutions, study programmes and graduate schools were recorded. This dynamic platform should, through the active participation of the individuals within the German “water community”, develop into a transparent, well-structured and interactive information portal for researchers and research funders, which is continuously updated and developed on an on-going basis through its active use.

Definition and Delimitation of „Water Research“

In this analysis, the ”water field“ included all research and teaching areas that have a focus on water. This includes all physical, chemical and biological, as well as societal implications of water, whether it be above the surface of the earth, or on it, or below it (water cycle, aquatic ecology and chemistry, water technology, water management, model development, etc.). The analysis was confined to terrestrial water – marine water research and atmospheric research were not included. Only the interfaces between these fields - the coast, as well as the transitional zone between the land surface/vegetation and the lower atmosphere were part of the analysis. The delimitation of the term water research is not distinct, as water, by nature, plays a role in all environmental spheres and influences all areas of human life and activity. The institutions and organisational units participating in the survey were asked whether they would consider their research as part of the water field. The focus of the analysis was on publicly funded institutions; privately funded research organisations were not included.



Performed by

An instrument of



Greta Jäckel
Helmholtz Water-Network
Tel: +49 341 235 1784