Mankind has always had a vital interest to comprehend the environment in order to use existing and find new resources of this planet. Only relatively recently has our presence started to exhibit a profound impact on a global scale, and we had to learn that man itself has become a significant component of the environmental system. This has added a new and more important dimension that lies beyond the purpose-oriented investigation of Nature. The scientific understanding of the fundamental processes that determine our environment and influence its future has become a priority of our society. This is a prerequisite to understand any perturbations that we force upon the system by our own activities. Far-reaching technological and political decisions will depend on the quality of this knowledge.
With the advent of measurement techniques for stable and radioactive isotopes the physical sciences offer a powerful tool to investigate in a quantitative way processes within and between the different components of the environment. Environmental Physics is necessarily based on the availability of suitable measurement methods. Equally important is the quantitative interpretation and simulation by numerical models. There is an interactive relationship between measurement and model simulation in that new data may require more sophisticated models, while specific model simulations may suggest further and more detailed measurements. Development and application of both measurement techniques and numerical models therefore build a unity which form the basis of our understanding of Environmental Physics.
Our Goal and Strategy
Simply put, our principal goal is
To understand the environment, its present and past and its evolution on time scales from decades to 800,000 years.
To reach this goal we use a broad palette of physically based methods which range from model simulation, the analysis of numerous paleoclimatic archives to the application and development of new ultra-sensitive measurement methods of constituent and isotope concentrations.