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TU Berlin

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Research idea

Urban water systems are particularly vulnerable facing multiple current stressors in addition to the expected changes (e.g. climate, urbanization) and need preventive research and adapted management. The complexity of urban water systems requires a step change towards focusing on specific interfaces to embrace the multitude of process interactions at stake. As an increasing number of compartments and subsystems and their interplay with aquatic communities may notably affect the overall system behaviour, urban water interfaces play a key role and require a more integrative approach for future functioning and management when compared to current approaches. Fundamental knowledge of interface processes in urban water systems has improved in the first funding period of UWI, but is still insufficient to predict the consequences of the expected changes. Therefore, our overall aims for the second funding period are to

  • to advance the understanding of the functioning of individual natural and technical interfaces and their quantitative impact on urban water systems,
  • predict future changes by integrating the mechanistic knowledge into scenarios for subsequent modelling and
  • detect vulnerable and resilient conditions in urban water systems to derive adaptations for improved water management.

To achieve the overall aims we will a) further investigate urban water interfaces as an innovative research topic, b) extend our qualification concept and c) intensify our interdisciplinary and international collaborations.

We further jointly investigate urban water systems within a unifying framework of natural and technical interfaces by close collaboration of engineers and natural scientists at TUB and IGB along with national and international partners. Among the multiple domains with natural and technical interfaces we continue to consider: water surfaces, urban soils and vegetation (the latter was added), aquifers and sediments, water treatment and sewer systems. To further advance the collaboration within UWI, we have reorganized our structure and have elaborated four common topics: (i) interfaces in urban watersheds, (ii) interfaces in urban freshwater ecosystems, (iii) interfaces urban hyporheic zones and (iv) interfaces in sewer systems. The four common topics are interlinked by three common approaches in methods, techniques and applications: (i) enhanced understanding of interface processes in natural and technical urban water systems, (ii) development of conceptual models and predictive computational tools and (iii) application of new knowledge to urban water system management. We continue developing innovative links between empirical methods, experiments (lab, field) and modelling (conceptual, numerical) to describe the dominant interface processes on different scales in space and time as well as across scales. Due to changes in the group of researchers we will have stronger emphasis on urban ecohydrology and urban water quality modelling starting with the 2nd cohort.

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