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Clemens Simmer, Gerhard Adrian, Sarah Jones, Volkmar Wirth, Martin Göber, Cathy Hohenegger, Tijana Janjic´, Jan Keller, Christian Ohlwein, Axel Seifert, Silke Trömel, Thorsten Ulbrich, Kathrin Wapler, Martin Weissmann, Julia Keller, Matthieu Masbou, Stefanie Meilinger, Nicole Riß, Annika Schomburg, Arnd Vormann, and Christa Weingärtner

Abstract

In 2011, the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development laid the foundation of the Hans-Ertel Centre for Weather Research [Hans-Ertel-Zentrum für Wetterforschung (HErZ)] in order to better connect fundamental meteorological research and teaching at German universities and atmospheric research centers with the needs of the German national weather service Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD). The concept for HErZ was developed by DWD and its scientific advisory board with input from the entire German meteorological community. It foresees core research funding of about €2,000,000 yr−1 over a 12-yr period, during which time permanent research groups must be established and DWD subjects strengthened in the university curriculum. Five priority research areas were identified: atmospheric dynamics and predictability, data assimilation, model development, climate monitoring and diagnostics, and the optimal use of information from weather forecasting and climate monitoring for the benefit of society. Following an open call, five groups were selected for funding for the first 4-yr phase by an international review panel. A dual project leadership with one leader employed by the academic institute and the other by DWD ensures that research and teaching in HErZ is attuned to DWD needs and priorities, fosters a close collaboration with DWD, and facilitates the transfer of fundamental research into operations. In this article, we describe the rationale behind HErZ and the road to its establishment, present some scientific highlights from the initial five research groups, and discuss the merits and future development of this new concept to better link academic research with the needs and challenges of a national weather service.

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Clemens Simmer, Insa Thiele-Eich, Matthieu Masbou, Wulf Amelung, Heye Bogena, Susanne Crewell, Bernd Diekkrüger, Frank Ewert, Harrie-Jan Hendricks Franssen, Johan Alexander Huisman, Andreas Kemna, Norbert Klitzsch, Stefan Kollet, Matthias Langensiepen, Ulrich Löhnert, A. S. M. Mostaquimur Rahman, Uwe Rascher, Karl Schneider, Jan Schween, Yaping Shao, Prabhakar Shrestha, Maik Stiebler, Mauro Sulis, Jan Vanderborght, Harry Vereecken, Jan van der Kruk, Guido Waldhoff, and Tanja Zerenner

Abstract

Most activities of humankind take place in the transition zone between four compartments of the terrestrial system: the unconfined aquifer, including the unsaturated zone; surface water; vegetation; and atmosphere. The mass, momentum, and heat energy fluxes between these compartments drive their mutual state evolution. Improved understanding of the processes that drive these fluxes is important for climate projections, weather prediction, flood forecasting, water and soil resources management, agriculture, and water quality control. The different transport mechanisms and flow rates within the compartments result in complex patterns on different temporal and spatial scales that make predictions of the terrestrial system challenging for scientists and policy makers. The Transregional Collaborative Research Centre 32 (TR32) was formed in 2007 to integrate monitoring with modeling and data assimilation in order to develop a holistic view of the terrestrial system. TR32 is a long-term research program funded by the German national science foundation Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), in order to focus and integrate research activities of several universities on an emerging scientific topic of high societal relevance. Aiming to bridge the gap between microscale soil pores and catchment-scale atmospheric variables, TR32 unites research groups from the German universities of Aachen, Bonn, and Cologne, and from the environmental and geoscience departments of Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH. Here, we report about recent achievements in monitoring and modeling of the terrestrial system, including the development of new observation techniques for the subsurface, the establishment of cross-scale, multicompartment modeling platforms from the pore to the catchment scale, and their use to investigate the propagation of patterns in the state and structure of the subsurface to the atmospheric boundary layer.

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