Research focus of the Physical Geography unit at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin includes the reconstruction of palaeoenvironments and the analysis and assessment of water-soil-sediment-fluxes at the Earth`s surface. In multiple research projects young scientists are trained and promoted in these topics.
Analysing and assessing water-soil-sediment-fluxes at the Earth`s surface is of special interest as well as the analysis of water balance, soil erosion and sediment transport to better understand relief forming processes, their influencing factors and the time span of these processes. This includes the assessment of landscape development under changing climatic conditions and yarying character of human impact.
The Human Geography unit, especially the Centre for Development Studies, consequently includes knowledge from physical geography into its conception of strategies, project measures or the design of aid programmes.
Regional focus of the research in the study group Palaeolandscapes and Geomorphology (team leader: Prof. Dr. B. Schütt) is distinctly located in the drylands of the Old World. Here special interest is on problems of environmental history, focussing on the Holocene and late Quaternary time periods. The effects of human impact on relief forming processes and landscape development are analysed. A second research focus is on problems of integrated watershed management, highlighting soil erosion, sediment dynamics of rivers, mass movements and water balance. The findings from these analyses of present day morphodynamics is in conceptual as well as in physical models coupled with the findings from the palaeoenvironmental research and in this manner allows a validated prediction of future developments.
The regional focus oft the study group Quaternary and Gemorphology (team leader: Prof. Dr. M. Böse) is the peribaltic region and high mountain areas. Quaternary stratigraphy, geomorphological and sedimentological investigations serve to reconstruct the palaeoenvironments during ice advances. The integrative analysis of the changing influences of climate and human on landscape development during post glacial processes is continuously in the focus of the study group, especially highlighting the investigation of natural hazards.