Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems – MOSES

MOSES is a joint observing system of the “Earth and Environment” research field. It comprises highly flexible and mobile observation modules which are particularly designed to investigate the interactions of short-term EVENTS AND long-term TRENDS across Earth compartments. MOSES primarily targets four events: heat waves, hydrological extreme events, ocean eddies and the thawing of permafrost.

Hydrological extreme events

Recent global projections predict a 10-20 % increase in the frequency and intensity of synoptic scale storm events with severe precipitation and floods for the Northern Hemisphere by the end of the century. The latest and clearly recognizable extremes in Central Europe are the floods in the Rhine and Elbe catchment areas in 2002 and 2013. Each of these floods has caused more than ten billion Euros in damage, demonstrating their enormous ecological and socioeconomic impact. Due to the stochastic nature of such severe weather conditions, a thorough understanding of their temporal and spatial dynamics and the effects on the related systems, including ecosystems, is challenging. A thorough observation concept for such events is still lacking, especially with respect to their role on long-term climatic trends. The concept proposed here therefore aims at a better understanding of the interactions between short-term hydrologic events causing large-scale floods and their long-term ecosystem effects. Creating high-resolution eventbased data and models and compiling them with our already existing data and models from longterm observatories will allow us to decipher the (potentially decisive) role of the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme meteorological and hydrologic events on the status of our hydrologic, ecological and socio-economic Earth systems.

Thawing permafrost

Permafrost underlies a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere’s land mass and a large portion of the Siberian and North American shelves. Arctic warming occurs at a much higher rate (by up to 8 to 10 times) compared to the rest of the world. Warming permafrost thaws and degrades. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) trapped within or beneath permafrost are released, thus influencing regional and global climate. The carbon cycle of permafrost regions has been shown to be very sensitive to even short hot spells, snow cover duration and the amount of rainfall. These effects may potentially transform the permafrost areas from a net sink to a net source of atmospheric carbon in the future. Permafrost thaw events occur due to warming and wetting of the surface and have the potential to release gas on short time scales. Sites of intense methane release from the seabed on the Siberian shelf to the water column and atmosphere indicate submarine permafrost thaw. Siberian land craters are a previously unknown permafrost landscape feature. They is evidence of extremely rapid gas release due to permafrost thaw events.

Project Information

ContactJens Kroh / Admin
Project Duration
01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021
Funding Recipients
Leader Philipp Fischer
Representation Julia Boike
Role of AWI
in Project
WG Permafrost
Participants (AWI) Philipp Fischer

Ingeborg Bussmann

Paul Overduin

Stephan Lange

Bill Cable

Participants (extern)[Vorname Name / Vorname Name / Vorname Name (verlinken extern)]
Section (AWI)<link en science geosciences periglacial-research.html internal-link>Permafrost Research