Palaeoenvironmental Research

Understanding Land Use and Learning from the Past

As part of the Virtual Institute for Integrated Climate and Landscape Evolution Analyses (ICLEA), the Chair of Geopedology and Landscape Development (Head of Chair Prof. Dr. Thomas Raab) is working together with project partners from various environmental disciplines to examine climate dynamics and landscape development in northern Central European lowland since the last ice age. The long-term goal of the Virtual Institute is to provide a substantiated data basis for sustained environmental maintenance based on a profound process understanding at all relevant time scales.

ICLEA-Partners are the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the Ernst Moritz Arndt University Greifswald (Uni Greifswald), the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU) and the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN). The partners strive for focusing their research capacities and expertise to explore processes of climate and landscape evolution in an historical cultural landscape extending from northeastern Germany into northwestern Poland.

Lower Lusatia offers researchers a number of special opportunities: In the lignite opencast mines the uniquely large size and number of outcrops allows for an almost complete 3D view of the landscape structure, from the Tertiary sediments up to the near-surface soils. In cooperation with the Brandenburg State Office for Monuments and the Archaeological State Museum (BLDAM), the State Office for Mining, Geology and Natural Resources (LBGR) and Vattenfall Europe Mining and Generation AG, archaeological excavations were geomorphologically and pedologically investigated.

The findings give  an in parts completely new picture of the land use history in the Peitz/Jänschwalde region. Through excavations and the use of modern GIS and remote sensing methods, the largest field of charcoal kilns so far described for  the Northern Lowlands was documented. The presentation and publication of these amazing findings attracted international attention. The project is mainly carried out by young researchers.

The interim evaluation of the Virtual Institute was held at the end of June 2014 in theHelmholtz Association in Berlin. The international review panel evaluated the research of ICLEA as very successful and recommended continued funding. The full research grant allowance is 3 million euro. By the end of 2016, the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg had secured 533,000 euro of the five-year term funds.