Sustainable Changes: Climate and Resources

EDUC Online Seminar 17 June 2021

The challenge of Earth, Climate and Life sciences today is to understand processes involved in environmental changes in order to guide sustainable solutions and assess societal impacts. This requires the development and analysis of models and big data in multiple space and time scales, exploring the past, present and future of our ressources and environments. This seminar aims to promote research collaborations for future potential funding between EDUC members through the following open ended session topics.

1. Climate, Landscape evolution and Natural Hazards

The links and feedbacks between climate change and landscape evolution are fundamental for understanding the controls on climate change on geological timescales (e.g. Cenozoic cooling and descent into the ice ages) but also the response of sensitive (mountain) landscapes to ongoing anthropogenic climate change on a decadal to 100-year timescale. The latter question is also intimately linked to the occurrence of natural hazards: rockfalls, debris flows, glacial outburst floods and their linked hazard cascades are particularly sensitive to rising temperatures and the increasing frequency of extreme events. Understanding the mechanisms and dynamics of these links, through direct observation and monitoring, geochemical and geochronological records, and (numerical) modelling, are thus of crucial importance for our understanding of the Earth system and its evolution at different timescales.

Contact: Pr. Peter van der Beek, Potsdam, Geosciences, Surface processes,

2. Crustal Dynamics over geological time scales and Ore formation

Investigations on the crystalline basement of past orogenic systems provide unique insights into the dynamics of the deep roots of crustal systems. Comparing systems of various geological ages unravels the crustal evolution during the Earth’s past, which also has considerable implications for processes at Earth’s surface. Past orogenies, ranging from Neoproterozoic (Cadomian) to Palaeozoic (Variscan) to Mesozoic (Alpine), each had their own specific developments that nonetheless offer different perspectives on common processes ranging from crust formation to ore forming processes.   Ore formation is a complex multistep process operating over geological timescales in crustal systems often linked to to crustal evolution of a given site. Particularly in the last step, transport and precipitation by hydrothermal processes associated with magmatism and volcanism play an important role. Many fundamental aspects are addressed in research projects, ranging from mineral solubility experiments in the lab to field studies and hydrochemical modelling on the ore-system scale.

Contacts: Pr. Max Wilke and Martin Timmerman, Potsdam, Geosciences, Crustal dynamics, and

3. Environments, Climate and Biodiversity interactions

With ongoing human alteration of the Earth’s ecosystems and rapid global warming there is an urgent need to understand the response of species and environments to climate change. In a fascinating network of interactions and feedbacks, global biogeochemical cycles, tectonic processes and carbon storage are recorded by source to sink systems and reservoirs over geological time. Examining interactions between environment, climate, and biological diversity recorded in sedimentary archives and phylogenetic databases, provides unique information about the ability to adapt to changes in a sustainable fashion. The advent of molecular phylogenic tools, and biotic-based environmental proxies has led to an explosion of data and models to understand such processes. Several international projects from EDUC partners and other connected groups are currently yielding new enticing research paths.

Contacts: Guillaume Dupont-Nivet (Rennes/Potsdam), Paleoclimate,; Pr. Antonio Pusceddu, Cagliari, Ecology and Marine Biology,

4. Water resources and Climate Change: From process to participative management

To manage water resources, numerous key processes of the water cycle remain poorly constrained. Characterizing groundwater – surface water relationships, and groundwater relationships to heterogeneous geological structures and geomorphology, remains challenging. We also have to integrate various heterogeneous and non-linear processes in coupling physical transport to chemical and biogeochemical reactivity. Indeed, climate change impacts water management both from a quantitative and qualitative point of view.

From 1992 to 2014, floods, droughts and storms affected 4.2 billion people (95% of all people affected by any disaster) and caused US$1.3 trillion of damage, 63% of total damage caused (Unesco Report). Significantly, in response to COVID-19 and increasing climatic crises, international and European bodies are stressing the need for new water governance that has to include (1) co-governance of all activities and all needs for water, and (2) co-management including not only water managers but all stakeholders in collective decision making. There is however a dramatic absence of both useful technological tools and modelling to overcome this challenge. Several teams of the EDUC consortium provide insights in these various fields of water resource management that could benefit from each other during the research seminar.

Contacts: Luc Aquilina (, Maria Klepikova ( and Olivier Bour (

5. Eco-Materials and Eco-Processes for a Sustainable Future

The development of eco-materials and eco-processes aims to limit our ecological and energy footprints. It promotes the development of natural, biosourced or geosourced raw materials and it searches transformation and production processes that are sober and safe, in various fields including: (1) Green chemistry, which develops eco-friendly methodologies and processes (low-cost metals, recyclable solvents recyclable or biosourced solvents, etc; (2) water and air purification; (3) the physical chemistry of surfactants and biosourced polymers for environmental issues; (4) agri-food applications and (5) water and air purification. The scientific objectives are based on skills such as catalysis and green chemistry, biomass valorisation, membranes.

Contacts: Pr. Anthony Szymczyk (; Marc Fourmigué (

6. Social Sciences and Humanities vs. Natural Sciences for Sustainable Changes

Contact: Gilles Lhuillier (;