Ruprecht-Karls-Universitšt Heidelberg


Aquatic Systems and Biogeochemical Cycles

Prof. Werner Aeschbach-Hertig
Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Levin
Dr. J. Ilmberger


The section "Aquatic Systems and Biogeochemical Cycles" at the Institute of Environmental Physics investigates the transport of substances within and between different compartments of the environment, in particular the aquatic systems (lakes, groundwater, ocean), but also the atmosphere and biosphere. Central tools are tracer and isotope methods, supported by direct measurements of physical parameters (e.g. temperature, currents, meteorological parameters, etc.) as well as by transport models. An important goal of our research is a better understanding of the climate system, on the one hand by investigating the paleoclimate, on the other hand by studying recent changes of the biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases (H2O, CO2, CH4, N2O) as well as other trace gases.

An important group among the tracers that we employ are the noble gases, which in groundwater provide information about paleotemperatures, but also about residence times. The noble gas radioisotope 222Rn is used to detect groundwater discharge into lakes, as well as to study transport in soil air and in the lowermost atmosphere. Widely applied are also anthropogenic trace gases such as SF6, which is used as (environmental) tracer in the atmosphere as well as in lakes and groundwater. The stable isotopes of the water (2H, 18O) are indispensable tools in the study of the water and CO2 cycle and serve as paleoclimate proxies. The isotopes of carbon (13C, 14C) on the other hand enable a quantitative analysis of single sources in the carbon cycle as well as dating of old groundwaters.


Groundwater and Paleoclimate Limnophysics Biogeochemical Cycles


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