Different from the existing Critical Zone Observatory sites (www.czen.org), with our Critical Zone Exploratories (CZE), we focus on integrated research on the functioning and biodiversity of the subsoil compartments of the Earth´s Critical Zone and their links and connections to the pedosphere, the biosphere, and the lower atmosphere. The compartments of interests are therefore the soils - sensu strictu, the water-unsaturated zone, and the water-saturated subsurface including used aquifers (Figure 1).
The CRC AquaDiva established the Hainich Critical Zone Exploratory starting in 2010.
And in 2018, we started constructing our new CZE, the Saale-Elster-Sandsteinplatte Critical Zone Exporatory.
Fig. 1: Scheme of the near-surface compartments of the Earth's Critical Zone at a location of the Hainich Exploratory. The bedrock is mainly composed of triassic marine alternations of limestone and marlstone beds. (Source: Lehmann in Küsel et al. 2016, CC-BY 4.0, unmodified)
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Forests in Thuringia are increasingly affected by drought, fire, and bark beetles.
You can see how this looks in the short movie of the "Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR)" about aridity in central Germany!