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Research Projects

LOgo Profilschwerpunkt

Water is the most important resource of the 21st century – it cannot be substituted. The spatial and temporal imbalance between water supply and demand is very problematic. Whereas the water supply in some regions of the world is sufficient to permanently cover the demand, other regions of the world are confronted with water scarcity and minor water quality. Due to global change this imbalance will increase. The key aspects in relation to water resources - “quantity, quality and access” - can only be managed by integrating various disciplines. One example is the interdisciplinary research project GLOWA IMPETUS (An Integrated Approach to the Efficient Management of Scarce Water Resources in West Africa) the HRG took a leading role in.

Objectives of the focal research area “water” are:

  • Strengthen the links between the research groups within the Department of Geography as well as with other departments, faculties and associated institutes of the University.
  • Initiate joint research projects to develop approaches for dealing with the urgent questions of water availability, allocation and quality.

The focal research area is supposed to visualize the water related research ongoing in the Department of Geography and the University and strengthen their positions through the use of synergies. More information is available on the homepage of the Department of Geography ( GER ).


"Studying changes of sea level and water storage for coastal regions in West-Africa, using satellite and terrestrial data sets (COAST)" 

The project "Studying changes of sea level and water storage for coastal regions in West-Africa, using satellite and terrestrial data sets (COAST)" applies an integrative approach to research water storage and -fluxes, as well as sea level changes at the regional scale in West Africa. The project is funded by the DFG and was approved in 2015 ( The project focuses on the use of remote sensing datasets (such as GRACE total water storage data, SMOS soil moisture data and TRMM precipitation data, among others). Furthermore, local observations as well as results generated using distributed hydrological models are used. The project is conducted in cooperation between the working groups of Prof. Dr. Bernd Diekkrüger (Department of Geography, University of Bonn:, Prof. Dr. Annette Eicker (Geodäsie und Ausgleichsrechnung, HafenCity Universität Hamburg: and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kusche (Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn: While the working group of Prof. Diekkrüger focuses on terrestrial hydrology and dynamic hydrological modeling, the groups of Profs. Eicker and Kusche focus on the analysis of satellite data concerning total water storage and sea level change.

The aim of the project is to further the understanding of the effects of climatic variability in West Africa, as well as to improve hydrologic modeling in the region by integrating satellite data in process based hydrological models. Uncertainties of model results in regions with limited data availability are generally high. This is not only due to the limited number of available discharge gauges but also a lack of information on the spatiotemporal distribution of water resources. Satellite products offer spatiotemporal data on different scales and can be used to reduce model uncertainties. The integration of different approaches enables the creation of a more consistent prediction of water storages and -fluxes and an increased understanding of regional processes. This increased understanding is paramount for the quantification of climate change effects in the region.

Coast Workshop

February 12-15 2018 at the WASCAL Competence Center, Ouagadougou (BF)

COAST (Studying changes of sea level and water storage for coastal regions in West-Africa, using satellite and terrestrial data sets) has generated specialized knowledge concerning the application of remote-sensing data in the field of hydrology and water. This workshop is organized in partnership with the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) to transfer knowledge generated in the COAST project to African scientists (including PhD students), while providing room for discussing and disseminating results of the project. Specially invited speakers will hold lectures on the topics of the workshop.

Workshop poster (pdf)

Logo Wetlands Projekt

GlobE: WETLANDS IN EAST AFRICA: Reconciling future food production with environmental protection

Food production in East Africa shows stagnating and even declining trends, mainly a consequence of land degradation and climate variability. In contrast, wetlands, with year-round water availability, high resource base quality and the potential to harvest several crops per year present production hotspots in an otherwise degraded landscape. Wetlands cover 40 Mio ha in East Africa with only a small share currently being used. We surmise that these areas may become the bread basket of the region. 
A consortium from Bonn-Köln-Jülich and African partners will assess the status quo of wetlands’ contribution to food security and the sustainability of current wetland uses along climatic and social gradients.

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WascalWASCAL West African Science Service Center on Climate and Adapted Land Use

With climate change being one of the most severe challenges to rural Africa in the 21st century, West Africa is facing an urgent need to develop effective adaptation and mitigation measures. 

WASCAL is organized around three principle components:

  • Competence Center
  • Core Research Program
  • Graduate Research Program


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TR32Transregio 32: "Patterns in Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere Systems: monitoring, modelling and data assimilation"

Subproject C1 - Spatio-temporal variability of catchment properties and their effect on water, solute, and CO2 fluxes from the micro to the mesoscale:

The cycling of energy, water and carbon through soil, vegetation and atmosphere influences the distribution and quality of life on Earth. With the rapid growth of the world population and its needs, the sustainable and efficient management of our natural resources becomes more important than ever. The Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 32 focuses on a better understanding of the processes and interdependencies within and between soil, vegetation and the atmosphere which will lead to more reliable weather and climate models and more accurate predictions for water and CO2 transport to support an improved management of natural resources. 

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Completed Projects

IMPETUS - An integrated approach to the efficient managment of scarce water resources in west africa (2000-2011)

The interdisciplinary research project IMPETUS examines since mid-2000 the main aspects of the water cycle on the basis of two river catchment areas in Benin and Morocco. The main objective is to enable to our partner countries a sustainable management of scarce resource "water".

More information on IMPETUS

Graduiertenkolleg 437: "Analysis and parameterization of landscape attributes for soil erosion modelling" 

Landform - a structured and variable boundary surface.

"Regional simulation in the hydrology - quantification of the errors and uncertainties"

"Regionalization in the Hydrology"- a project in the context of the DFG

Workpackage 3 of the IRMA-SPONGE subproject FRHYMAP (Flood risk and hydrological mapping)

"Sonderforschungsbereich 350": Reciprocal effects of continental material systems and its modelling