Sustainable Living - Launch of the Einstein Research Unit on Climate and Water

Sustainable Living

Berlin-Brandenburg as a model region for research on the risks and solutions of altered water resources under climate change

How does climate change affect the availability and quality of water? How can the new challenges for water resource management be addressed together with stakeholders? These and other issues on the topic of “Climate and Water under Change” are the questions that the second Einstein Research Unit (ERU) of the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) will address. The interdisciplinary research team of the partner institutions Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin has set itself the task of researching the risk of water availability and quality caused by climate change and finding solutions for the sustainable management of water resources together with society, administration, economy, and politics. The Einstein Research Unit “Climate and Water under Change” (CliWaC) will be funded with six million euros for an initial three years.

The ERU is dedicated to the German urban capital and its surroundings, which is severely affected by water scarcity representative of many regions worldwide. “We don't have to go to the Arctic to see how much the climate crisis is affecting our lives. All it takes is a day trip from Berlin to Brandenburg,” says Prof Dr Sabine Kunst, spokesperson for the BUA and president of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. “The German federal state most abounding in water is drying up. Around a hundred forest fires a year make it clear how much we endanger nature and thus our livelihood with our way of life. In order to preserve water as a resource and to investigate possible solutions, the Berlin University Alliance is bundling its expertise with stakeholders not affiliated with academia. CliWaC is thus representative of research that cares about the future of our society.”

Water is fundamental to human life, natural, agricultural and forest ecosystems, and many social and economic sectors. In particular, due to more frequent extreme events such as droughts and floods, climate change is affecting water availability and quality. The research team around ecologist Prof. Dr. Britta Tietjen and meteorologist Prof. Dr. Uwe Ulbrich of Freie Universität Berlin, anthropologist Prof. Dr. Jörg Niewöhner and climatographer Prof. Dr. Christoph Schneider of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and forest scientist Prof. Dr. Birgit Kleinschmit and the climatologist Prof. Dr. Dieter Scherer of Technische Universität Berlin deals with the topic of climate and water under change from a transdisciplinary perspective, since sustainable strategies can only be developed by addressing all affected areas and working together with the stakeholders.

“CliWaC marks the launch of another forward-looking research project as an Einstein Research Unit,” says Prof Günter Stock, chair of the executive board of the Einstein Foundation Berlin. “In particular, the comprehensive cross-institutional approach of numerous researchers has convinced the international reviewers.” Einstein Research Units are intended to establish research alliances in strategically important areas of the Berlin University Alliance.

The first Einstein Research Unit of the Berlin University Alliance is dedicated to quantum computing -  one of the key technologies of the twenty-first century. It is funded with two million euros annually for an initial three years and uniquely combines expertise in theoretical and experimental physics, applied mathematics, computer science, and machine learning. 

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