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Research Projects

Research Focus Water



Indien 2020a (Mittel).pngWater is the most important resource of the 21st century and an essential element for the survival of human beings and ecosystems. As floods or high water, water turns out to be a life threatening risk factor.

Due to its spatial relation and the analysis of correlations between humans and environment, Geography is the principal science for developing well-founded solutions by interdisciplinary research projects.

Besides the understanding of scientific and ecosystematic processes, socio-economic and political issues are crucial for extensive discussions in geographical water science. Merging results from physical and human geographical research is essential for the definition of sustainable action strategies.

In the center of the main research area are topics and approaches, which deal with current water-related problems like lack of water, water quality, food security, and flood- and drought-crisis on a local to global level. All named problems connected with water will increase in many regions because of the global environmental change (climate and land use change, demographic development, etc.).

The main research area “Water” at the Department of Geography consists of different natural- and social sciences oriented disciplines of Geography dealing with interdisciplinary approaches to current issues at different scales of space and time. Extreme events like floods or droughts link “Water” with the research area “Risk”.


Objectives of the 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 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.

Completed Research Projects

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

Logo Wetlands ProjektFood 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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WASCAL West African Science Service Center on Climate and Adapted Land Use

logo_wascal.pngWith 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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Further Completed Projects

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.


Transregio 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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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