Humans influence their environment significantly: Climate change, species decline and
extinction and other critical developments have been observed for decades, and important
resources, such as drinking water or fertile soils threaten to become scarce. This is why the
Helmholtz Association is engaged in preventive research. The research regarding Earth and
Environment studies the fundamental functions of the Earth system and the interactions
between nature and society. The global challenge is to provide the basic and applied knowledge
necessary to secure and sustain the foundations of human life on a long-term basis. Key tasks
include development of strategies for efficient use of natural resources, research of natural
phenomena and their associated risks, and assessment of human impact on natural systems
and the repercussions for humanity.
The main challenges for the research field Earth and Environment lie in the following six areas:
- Earth system dynamics and risks,
- climate variability and climate change,
- availability of water and water management,
- ecosystem dynamics and biodiversity,
- sustainable use of resources and
- socio-economic dimension of global change.
The research is split into five programmes, whereas the programme "Atmosphere and Climate" is the important one on which the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research has its focus:
The main objective of this programme is to gain a better understanding of the role of the
atmosphere in the climate system. For this purpose, it examines key atmospheric processes by
means of sophisticated measurements of atmospheric parameters, laboratory investigations
and numeric modelling on a cross-scale basis.