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Climate change, nutrient availability, clean water and energy resources present a great challenge to humanity today as it will in the future. Handling such challenges effectively requires science-based tools such as earth system modelling. This enables investigation into problems that take into account interaction between different earth system compartments and over various temporal and spatial scales.

Aims of the ESM Project

The ESM project, supported by the Helmholtz Association, includes eight Helmholtz research centres (AWI, DLR, FZJ, GEOMAR, GFZ, KIT, UFZ and the HZG) from the “Earth and the Environment” field. The transdisciplinary aim of this project is the development, evaluation and application of a world leading earth system modelling infrastructure that seeks to find answers to pressing questions within the earth and environmental sciences.

The two main aspects of the project are:

  • Improving existing earth system model components
  • Designing a flexible framework for coupling these components

Within the ESM project, the HZG makes a substantial contribution both to improving the various model components as well as to the opportunities for model coupling.

Expanding the Model System for Coastal and Land Applications

The existing coupled model systems for coastal and land applications at the HZG are being expanded through innovative process descriptions and parameterizations. This enables new interface development for socioeconomic modelling and land surface modelling. In the area of atmospheric modelling, the currently used models will be supplemented with the German Weather Service's new German atmospheric model (ICON) in a regional version. Further steps aiming at a comprehensive Earth system model are:

  • a coupled model for ocean-cryosphere-biosphere interactions
  • the further development of sea wave coupling for investigating marine extremes with the help of a coupled atmosphere-waves-ocean system within the context of the Geesthacht COAstal model SysTem (GCOAST)

Coastal Research Answers Open Questions

In addition to these technical functions of model development, open questions concerning coastal research will be answered with the aid of the new coupled models. Can the effects of climate change or offshore wind parks on complex coastal systems, for example, now be researched? An additional focus lies particularly in estuaries as important transitional zones between land and sea. The models can be used to determine to what extent human intervention influences these systems. Further questions address analysis of hydro-meteorological extreme events in Europe (e.g., rainstorms, floods, storm surges, droughts and heat waves). These questions can be answered based on a coupled high-resolution coastal model or the material cycle between land and sea using a hindcast of European coastal water dynamics.

Further Information and Contacts

ESM Website

Prof. Dr. Corinna Schrum
Prof. Dr. Corinna Schrum

Phone: +49 (0)4152 87-1833

E-mail contact