Aims of the programme


The BMBF research program "Central Asia and Tibet: Monsoon dynamics and geo-ecosystems" addresses recent problems in the areas of climate change, geodynamics, geo-resources (including water), and geo-hazard potential. The investigations on the interdisciplinary projects are carried out in international cooperation.


The BMBF funded joint project has a major role in the overall field of bio-geosciences research in Central Asia, including Tibet. It brings together the active German expertise in this area and focuses on research and development issues of global importance, i.e. monsoon dynamics and climate change. Generally, the investigations of the research program are pursuing an integrated system approach. The joint project was initiated as the German contribution to the large international "Third Pole Environment" program (TPE), which was raised by Chinese initiative and provides an active platform for joint research to scientists of numerous nations.


In accordance, the BMBF program both complements and integrates current international and national geoscience research projects in this region, such as the DFG priority program "Tibetan Plateau: Formation - Climate -Ecosystems" (TiP). Another objective is to ensure a secure medium term scientific commitment of German experts in this geo-scientifical and geo-political important region.


Research themes


Research into the causes of climate and environmental changes resulting from human intervention in geo-ecosystems is one of the major challenges arising to science and society. Complex natural systems and regional and global impacts of human activities require interdisciplinary research approaches with international cooperation in research areas that respond particularly sensitive to human interference.

The area of the Pamir-Tibet plateau and the adjacent mountain ranges and sedimentary basins in China, the former CIS states, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar provides - apart from the polar regions - a key region for the analysis of recent and past climate variations and especially of the dynamics of the system ‘Earth – Humans’. The area is characterized by particularly high natural geodynamics and by the consequences of a higher geo-hazard potential for people and infrastructure. Also, in view of existing geo-resources (oil, gas, ores) Central Asia is of great importance. Not least, the region has a crucial role in the climate system, as the Tibetan plateau exerts a substantial influence on the atmospheric circulation, and hence on the Asian monsoon system.

About one third of the world’s population strongly depends on the hydrological aspects of the Tibet Plateau region, i.e. being directly concerned by the effects of the monsoon and the existence of high mountain glaciers. This predominantly semi-arid region which contains the world's largest high mountain plateau, in a significant and particularly sensitive way responds to climate change, as well as to human intervention on the natural geo-ecosystem.


The joint projects address issues of three thematic areas:


1)    Young geodynamics – climate - humans

2)    Geo-ecosystems – human impact and climate change

3)    Monsoon dynamics: driving factors and internal coupling 





Central Asian climate dynamics


Natural versus anthropogenic controls of past monsoon variability in Central Asia recorded in marine archives


Climate variability and landscape dynamics in southeast Tibet and the Eastern Himalaya during the Late Holocene: reconstructed from tree rings, soils, and climate modeling 


Monitoring of rangeland health in response to environmental changes on the Tibetan Plateau: Development and application of an integrated multi proxy indicator scheme


Impact of climate change on the water balance of a river basin in the Pamir


The permafrost transect – effects of climate change and land use on permafrost and carbon dynamics in soils along a climate gradient across the Tibetan Plateau


Monsoon dynamics and aridification – the climate archive Qaidam


Supra-regional signal pathways and long-time archives: Quaternary monsoon dynamics at the northern margin of the Tibetan Plateau


Tien Shan – Pamir Monitoring program – Late Cenozoic geodynamics, climate interactions, and resulting hazards in Central Asia


Variability and Trends in Water Balance Components of Benchmark Drainage Basins on the Tibetan Plateau

Scientific and Administrative Coordination Project


Overview map: research areas of the joint projects

Partners: Research institutes and Universities in Germany

(Links to involved working groups are with the projects’ abstracts)


Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR)
Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen
Freie Universität Berlin (FU)
Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena
GIS Service GmbH

Goethe Universität Frankfurt
Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Helmholtz Center Potsdam – German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ)
Helmholtz Center Munich
Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)
Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)
MARUM Universität Bremen
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Max Planck Institute of Biogeochemistry
Max Planck Institute of Meteorology

Philipps Universität Marburg
RWTH Aachen
Senckenberg Research Institute
Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
Technische Universität Berlin
Technische Universität Braunschweig
Technische Universität Dresden

Universität Bremen
Universität Hamburg

Universität Potsdam



Project coordination office:

Aljoscha Kreß
Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum

Senckenberganlage 25

D-60325 Frankfurt am Main / Germany
Tel.: + 49- (0)69 - 97075 1304

Fax: +49- (0)69 - 97075 1176