The CT Hydrosphere concentrates on the investigation of regional hydrological effects of Climate Change and landuse change on the regional hydrology. Change of climatic conditions (precipitation, temperature) as well as change in land use and their impact on water and matter fluxes are the key factors for the quantitative and qualitative status of freshwater resources.


A better knowledge of the regional differentiation of the described hydrological impacts is a crucial basis for future water resources management. The four selected TERENO catchments offer the opportunity to cover nearly the complete span of variation in projected climate change in Germany. Detailed observation of the hydrological cycle in these regions is the basis for a high quality multi-temporal multi-scale database for hydrological and terrestrial modelling in order to assess long-term changes in German ecosystems (natural, agricultural, and forested).


The following tasks are planned:

  • Establishment of intensive soil moisture monitoring sites collocated to climate towers for coordinated observation. Measurements will be made at several depths in the soil profile, where feasible down to the water table. In addition to the multi-depth soil moisture monitoring sites, wireless sensor networks will be established at the sub-catchment scale. The wireless sensor network technology has the potential to reveal fine-grained, dynamic changes in soil moisture. Additionally remote sensing to measure soil water content variations over large regions will be applied. The proposed network of soil moisture monitoring should have a sufficient density and appropriate placement in order to capture the regional gradients (climate, urban-rural) and the inherent spatial-temporal variability (soil and topographic heterogeneity).
  • River discharge monitoring. In order to get spatially distributed information about river discharge rates, the full Observatory needs to be partitioned into a nested set of sub-catchments that will span distinct assemblages of hydrologic features and several orders of magnitude in drainage area. Detailed measurements and characterization of smaller, focal catchments will be embedded within progressively larger catchments, allowing critical evaluation and development of hydrologic scaling strategies.
  • Investigation of the spatiotemporal variability of groundwater recharge, study of the groundwater flow systems and the related transport of solutes.
  • Water quality measurements. These will be intimately connected with the monitoring of river discharge and groundwater recharge to estimate matter fluxes. Monitoring stations will be established at main branches of the river network that enable a continuous and event controlled sampling of water samples.
  • Environmental tracer studies will be used for process studies of the hydrogeologic systems and are thus complementary to the physical measurements. Additionally, general features of water quality will be automatically measured with high temporal resolution (see Tab. 10.2). Additionally, in urban areas specific pollutants will be monitored, e.g. Xenobiotika, bacterial toxins, pharmaceuticals etc.




  • Steffen Zacharias (UFZ)
  • Heye Bogena (FZJ)
  • Michael Rode (UFZ)
  • Luis Samaniego-Eguiguren (UFZ)
  • Harald Kunstmann (UFZ)
  • Theresa Blume (GFZ)
  • Harald Kunstmann (KIT)