5 Cross-Cutting Research

Many questions in earth system research are so complex that they can only be answered in interdisciplinary research networks. The Helmholtz Association therefore established a number of large, scientific initiatives that are being addressed across topics and research fields. In “Helmholtz jargon” they are called “Cross-Cutting Activities”. Under the links below you can find a selection of cross-cutting activities rooted in the Research Field Earth and Environment.

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Helmholtz Climate Initiative

The Helmholtz Climate Initiative is looking for systemic solutions to one of the greatest social challenges of our time: climate change. Scientists from 15 Helmholtz centers are developing joint strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change – with a focus on Germany. The Helmholtz Climate Initiative makes scientific knowledge available to many areas of society and enters into dialogue with those responsible from politics, business and the media as well as the interested public.

REKLIM - Regional Climate Change and Humans

Climate change is a global phenomenon – people experience it primarily in the region in which they live. The research of regional climate changes and their effects on the population are therefore at the core of the Helmholtz network REKLIM. Nine centers of the Helmholtz Association work closely together to analyze the regional effects of climate change and derive options for action for society. They are also supported by numerous universities.

MOSES - Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems

Heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, thawing permafrost – such highly dynamic events change our environment over the long term and on a large scale. But where exactly, to what extent and with what consequences? Researchers aim to close knowledge gaps like these with the novel Helmholtz observation system MOSES. It includes highly flexible and mobile observing modules specifically designed to study the interactions of short-term events and long-term trends across Earth compartments and environmental systems.

TERENO - Terrestrial Environmental Observatories

TERENO is an interdisciplinary and long-term research program in which six centers of the Helmholtz Association are involved. As part of TERENO, a terrestrial observation network was set up that stretches from the North German lowlands to the Bavarian Alps. The aim of TERENO is to investigate the long-term ecological, social and economic impacts of global change on a regional scale. Scientists can use the data to better show how mankind can react to these influences.


With the phase-out of lignite, the Rhenish coalfield, like other coalfields in Germany, is facing fundamental structural change. The transdisciplinary and regionally closely interlinked research initiative “BioökonomieRevier” pursues the goal of developing the Rhenish lignite mining region into a lighthouse region for sustainable and circular bioeconomy on the basis of already existing strengths.

ESM - Earth System Modelling

“Advanced Earth System Modelling Capacity” (ESM) is a joint initiative of the research area Earth and Environment to raise the modelling of the very complex system “Earth” to a new level. In this research initiative, the Helmholtz Association bundles its partly world-leading expertise in the fields of modelling, data assimilation and observation of the Earth system in order to expand the limits of knowledge about our home planet.

Digital Earth

Digital Earth is a central collaborative project of 8 Helmholtz centers. The project aims to better integrate data and knowledge from different disciplines and compartments of the Earth system and to close gaps between natural and data sciences. To do this, the participating centers are pooling their capabilities to handle rapidly growing multiparameter data, apply data science methods, adapt algorithms, and develop digital workflows tailored to specific scientific needs.

ARCHES - Autonomous robot networks

Autonomous, networked robotic systems are becoming increasingly important for both industry and science. The aim of the Helmholtz ARCHES consortium is to combine the various and as yet very specific robotic developments of three Helmholtz research fields and to link very different future fields of application: from environmental monitoring of the oceans to technical crisis intervention and exploration of the solar system.

Further Cross-Cutting Activities

Information on other research networks and cross-cutting activities of the Research Field Earth and Environment can be found in the program “Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future”.

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