Urban System

Research in Urban System is dedicated to the monitoring of growing or shrinking cities regarding their terrestrial compartments and the demographic and social situation of the residents. Urban systems possess their own characteristics and nowadays belong to the dominating and most dynamic systems on earth. The development of these systems is influenced by the availability of resources such as space, clean air, water, energy and solid matters (e.g. raw materials, food) and affected by climate change. Urban systems continuously consume resources, and emit them into the ambient terrestrial and aquatic systems in an altered way. At the same time, living conditions in cities are influenced for humans and nature and the dynamics of urban development impaired, including their potential to regenerate. As the urban system belongs to the terrestrial system, it is part of the ongoing research to understand local, regional and global developments. At present, the research centres UFZ and KIT provide relevant competences and different methodological spectra to combine scientific approaches with empirical evidences in the urban areas in TERENO. Both centres aim at cooperating with other Helmholtz centres for the benefit of a comprehensive urban system`s research.


It is the goal of urban system to elaborate monitoring methods and strategies by embedding processes that influence humans and are influenced by humans, and to couple them with physical-chemical processes under investigation.


To design a sustainable urban development, the UFZ understands resource efficiency, quality of life and resilience as the central backbone of urban transformations. The centre focuses on urban areas in different cultural contexts regarding shrinking and growing processes and develops different dimensions for options of change. Along this backbone, specific foci are put on land-use changes, urban ecosystem services, sustainable water infrastructures and urban environmental risks. In the frame of research on climate and environment, KIT investigates urban systems with the focus on physical, meteorological and air quality processes in the ambient terrestrial compartments against the background of global change.


  • Ellen Banzhaf (UFZ)
  • Stefan Emeis (KIT – IMK-IFU)
  • Annegret Haase (UFZ)
  • Sigrun Kabisch (UFZ)
  • Roland Krämer (UFZ)
  • Dieter Rink (UFZ)
  • Klaus Schäfer (KIT – IMK-IFU)
  • Uwe Schlink (UFZ)
  • Hannes Taubenböck (DLR)