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Institute of Soil Landscape Research

Institute of Land Use Systems

Institute of Landscape Biogeochemistry

Institute of Landscape Systems Analysis

Institute of Landscape Hydrology

Institute of Socio-Economics

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About the institute

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Contribution to Research of ZALF


In close cooperation with its partners from within and outside ZALF the Institute of Landscape Hydrology contributes to all three core topics of ZALF.

Within Core Topic I processes at the interface between soil, groundwater and surface water bodies are studied and modelled, e.g., the carbon and nutrient dynamics in periodically desiccated shores of kettle holes, or the nitrogen dynamics in soils and aquifers. In addition modern statistical methods are used to differentiate between different effects in a quantitative way.

Effects of land use change on soil, groundwater and freshwater systems are studied and ecosystem services of aquatic systems and wetlands are analysed within Core Topic 2. Methods are developed to differentiate these effects from those of various natural effects, accounting for the typical natural heterogeneity (e.g., interannually differing meteorological conditions) and possible substantial lags between cause and effects. Models are used to assess the effects of different land use scenarios and management schemes.

Within Core Topic 3 the expertise and the model results of the institute are used as a base for studying land use conflicts (e.g., between nature conservation and intense agriculture in the case of rewetting drained wetlands) and to assess the effects of alternative governance approaches on freshwater systems and groundwater with respect to water budgets and water quality.


Research Areas

The Institute of Landscape Hydrology studies physical, chemical and biological processes in the soil, in groundwater and in freshwater systems of rural landscapes. The work can be subdivided into three fields of activities that reflect the multifaceted expertise of our staff. However, there is no sharp distinction between these fields of activities which widely overlap, depending on the respective task.


Soil and Groundwater Hydrology

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Ansprechpartner: PD Dr. Christoph Merz, Prof. Dr. Uwe Schindler

A sound understanding of water and solute transport in soils and aquifers is indispensable for the institute. This concerns determination of the available amount of water, and water and solute fluxes both in the soil and in the aquifer. Identification of the hydrochemical processes and of the residence time during transport in the aquifer is indispensable for the quantification of solute turnover rates and for assessing the mass export via groundwater fluxes in rural areas. The enormous heterogeneity of soils and aquifers in the pleistocenic lowlands of Northeast Germany requires advanced methods for determination of substrate properties and of the hydrological and solute dynamics.


Freshwater Systems and Wetlands


Ansprechpartner: Dr. Thomas Kalettka, Dr. Dagmar Balla

Natural as well as agricultural land use and water resources management effects on the structure and functionality of different types of small freshwater systems and wetlands are studied. On the one hand, these limnic, amphibian and semi-terrestrial ecosystems are strongly affected by diffuse emissions of nutrients and contaminants and anthropogenic effects on the water budgets. On the other hand they are subject to natural water level fluctuation as well, including periodical desiccation. Protection and sustainable management of these small water bodies and wetlands is of fundamental importance for the water and mass balance of landscapes and for nature protection in agricultural landscapes.


Modelling and Management


Ansprechpartner: Dr. Jörg Steidl, Dr. Ottfried Dietrich, Prof. Dr. Gunnar Lischeid

Scale-specific process-based models and innovative non-linear approaches for analysis of large data sets of environmental monitoring programs are used to study the interplay between physical, chemical and biological processes affecting the landscape water and mass balance. Thus our understanding of the complex cause-effect relationships at the landscape scale can be checked and deepened. In addition, the effects of changing climatic and natural boundary conditions and of alternative management schemes can be evaluated.



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