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Natural and technical interfaces

We defined interfaces as boundary areas or limited spaces

  • between natural compartments (natural interface: e.g. surface water–groundwater) or
  • in technical systems (technical interface: e.g. wastewater–gas space in sewers) or
  • between natural and technical systems (e.g. bank filtration).

Interface fluxes and processes describe the exchange of water, dissolved substances, gases and energy. They are quite complex, characterised by steep physical and biogeochemical gradients, high number of (micro-)organisms and reaction rates, coupled non-linear processes with feed-back effects in possibly heterogeneous and dynamic structures. Hupfer et al. (2018) have demonstrated that aquatic interfaces are an emerging topic for interdisciplinary research.

Linkage between natural and technical systems is evident for bank filtration, treated wastewater discharged into surface waters, recharge of polluted runoff and artificial groundwater recharge. These processes are highly complex and a comprehensive understanding requires further detailed studies on the coupling of physico-chemical processes and microbiological transformations under different environmental conditions. The Research Training Group continues to focus on similarities of interfaces at different scales. By investigating multiple urban water interfaces, we plan to generalise interface concepts concerning measurement, modelling and scaling methods and techniques in the second funding period. This remains a unique feature and key strength compared to other collaborative research projects focusing on single interfaces in less complex environments than the urban water system. We plan to intensify the exploration of commonalities between a range of natural and technical urban water interfaces in the second funding period, for example gas exchange processes at water surfaces of urban water bodies and at (waste)water surfaces in sewer systems.

From the multiple natural and technical interfaces or the domains where they occur in the urban water cycle, we specifically consider:


Hupfer,M., Engesgaard,P., Jensen,H., Krause,S. & Nützmann,G. (2018): Editorial: Aquatic interfaces and linkges:An emerging topic of interdisciplinary research. Limnologica 68:1-4


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