In order to address the core research questions, to assess and reduce uncertainties and to establish a better basis for future adaptation and mitigation strategies, it is of utmost importance to apply novel interdisciplinary approaches and methods that allow quantification of spatial and temporal dynamics of current Earth surface fluxes on the Tibetan Plateau. For the purpose of providing information about the responses of the geo-ecosystem to alterations of the sediment, water and carbon fluxes between the terrestrial ecosystem and the atmosphere, we have defined three main interlinked individual core research areas:

»Sediment fluxes

We propose to investigate and quantify different aspects of matter transport along the present day fluvial pathway across different spatial scales (hill slopes, sub-catchments, entire basin) in the Nam Co catchment, combining in-situ measurements of matter yields with ground-based geophysical characterization of soil and sediment sources. Concurrent multi-temporal and multi-sensor remote sensing including Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems will be applied because they provide imagery of land surface dynamics even during the monsoon season.

S1 Quantification and modeling of solute matter transport during the annual cycle
S2 Assessment of sedimentary budgets and permafrost content with capacitive resistivity
S3 Catchment wide remote sensing of sediment source dynamics
S5 Sediment flux analysis based on cosmogenic nuclides


»Carbon fluxes

We aim at (1) identifying the size and patterns of organic carbon storage in soils at different scales of resolution, (2) assessing the turnover time of soil organic carbon (SOC), (3) continuously quantifying the CO2-exchange at high temporal resolution and partition carbon fluxes, (4) assessing the carbon transport to the hydrosphere as dissolved organic matter, along with inorganic solutes, and (5) projecting changes in SOC storage and carbon fluxes under different climate and land use regimes.

C1 Carbon translocation from glacial and terrestrial to aqueous systems
C2 Sensitivity of soil OC storage to changes in climate and land use on the TP
C3 Assessing land-atmosphere heat and CO2 exchange with Eddy covariance


»Water fluxes and water quality

Lake sediments will provide information about long-term hydrological variability and evolution of water quality. Quantification of runoff, meltwater and groundwater contributions to the hydrological budget will allow to test the effects of hydrological events on the aquatic ecosystem as well as help to disentangle these components archived in lake sediment records. Overall, the identification of the local components of the water balance and an integral approach of surface and subsurface flow modeling with water balance studies will provide assessments of past and future dynamics of water fluxes and water quality.


Modeling climate change impact on water budgets using an integrated surface-subsurface approach
W2 Diatoms as water quality indicators
W3 Invertebrates and their stable isotope composition as paleohydrological proxies



PostDoc Project

The project is designed to be handled by a postdoctoral researcher and addresses highly topical questions, the ecosystem reaction and threatening of biodiversity patterns by current environmental change, in a rapidly evolving research field - the use of environmental and fossil DNA for exploring past and present biodiversity and environments. The Project will establish and apply DNA metabarcoding approaches using next-generation sequencing techniques and apply these on spatial scales (profiling of recent populations of animals, plants, protists and bacteria) as well as on temporal scales (paleoenvironmental DNA profiling of selected sediments).

P Patterns of aquatic endemism and biodiversity on the Tibetan Plateau detected by modern and ancient DNA

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