Forschung / Research

The two main research foci of the hydrology group are:

Methods for transdisciplinary knowledge integration and participatory processes

To address societal problems at the interface of humans and environment and to identify sustainable management options, knowledge and problem perspectives of multiple actors need to be taken into account. Participatory processes have to be done for, e.g., developing strategies for climate change adaptation or mitigation or a sustainable land and water management. In transdisciplinary research, knowledge of multiple scientific disciplines and of stakeholders from outside of academia needs to be integrated. We investigate the optimal design of participatory processes and transdisciplinary research, using methods like actor modeling, Bayesian Networks and scenario generation that have the potential to enhance social learning and knowledge integration.

Current projects

  • Supporting risk assessment and adaptation at multiple spatial scales: Co-development of methods for utilizing uncertain multi-model based information on freshwater-related hazards of climate change (CO-MICC).
    Sub-project: Design for co-development of suitable methods, global hydrological modeling and coordination.
  • Riparian forests in arid regions of Central Asia under pressure by use and limited water resources: definition of tipping points to ensure sustainable management” (ForeCeA).
    Sub-project: Transdisciplinary assessment of ecosystem services


Global water modelling

Modelling of water resources and water use at the global scale supports a sustainable management of water, food and energy in a globalized world. In addition, it helps to understand the Earth system as water transport and storage variations on the continents plays an important role for atmospheric processes, global biogeochemical cycles, sea level and the gravity field. We are continuously improving and applying our global hydrology and water use model WaterGAP to quantify the current water resources situation and to derive interesting scenarios of the future, with a focus on assessing climate change risks. We strive to develop meaningful indicators for problems such as water scarcity, drought or alteration of freshwater biota habitat.

Current projects

  • Supporting risk assessment and adaptation at multiple spatial scales: Co-development of methods for utilizing uncertain multi-model based information on freshwater-related hazards of climate change (CO-MICC)
    Sub-project: Design for co-development of suitable methods, global hydrological modeling and coordination
  • ISIpedia: The climate impact encyclopedia (ISIpedia)
    Sub-project: Contribution of the global water sector to ISIpedia
  • Global-scale tool for characterization of droughts and for quantifying their impact on water resources, crop productivity, food trade and the need for international food relief (GlobeDrought)
    Sub-project: Global and regional modeling of hydrological droughts
  • CCI Sea Level Budget Closure (ESA SLBC_cci)
    Sub-project: Land water contribution to ocean mass change
  • Climate and climate impact projects at 1.5 °C as compared to 2 °C global warming in the framework of the HAPPI initiative (HAPPI-DE)
    Sub-project: Freshwater
  • Development of a global gradient-based groundwater model
Completed projects are described here. As part of these activities, several global data sets have been developed by members of the working group. For details please read the data sets section of our home page.