MOSES - Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems

  • Contact:

    Dr. Andreas Wieser

  • Partner:

    Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) from Leipzig,Research Centre Jülich (FZJ), Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)

In order to investigate extreme events and trends in the Earth System in detail, the Helmholtz Centres in the research field Earth and Environment are jointly developing the new earth observation system MOSES - Modular Observation Solutions for Earth Systems 

In the focus of interest are hydrological extremes, heat waves, ocean eddies and permafrost thaw for which the effects of short-term disturbances on entire event chains as well as long term trends were observed. In the case of "Hydrological Extremes", 7 Helmholtz centres are working hand in hand to measure and study the effects of an extreme events (e.g. heavy precipitation) from the source in the atmosphere to entire river systems, from landscape evolution due to flooding over nutrient and pollutant transports to changes in the rivers ecosystems and in the estuary.



The Elbe river was selected as the study area for the implementation phase of MOSES. The first two measurement campaigns, which focus on the interaction between the measuring devices and the near real time data exchange between the partners, are scheduled for April to July in 2019 and 2020.

The upper Elbe measurement campaign, coordinated by KIT, is taking place in the Müglitztal valley in Saxony. Besides the Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research - Department Tropospheric Research (IMK-TRO) of KIT, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) from Leipzig, the Research Centre Jülich (FZJ) and the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) are also involved in the measurements.

KIT deploys its mobile observatory KITcube ( to Dittersdorf, a station above the Müglitz Valley. KITcube's radar and lidar instruments, microwave profilers, radiosondes, energy balance stations and distrometers provide important data on the formation and evolution of heavy precipitation, as well as detailed information about precipitation distributions and evaporation (


Colleagues of FZJ are investigating the input of water vapour and trace substances into the stratosphere through convective systems using radiosondes with additional trace gas devices.

The scientists from the UFZ focus on soil moisture and river runoff. In order to monitor soil moisture development, UFZ is installing a mobile, wireless sensor network which measures soil moisture and temperature at different depths. In addition to the permanently installed sensor network, a mobile Cosmic Ray Rover with specially developed neutron sensors is used to observe the large-scale variation in soil moisture in the observation area. The GFZ monitors the evolution of the groundwater level by means of fixed and mobile gravimeters and additionally uses Cosmic Ray sensors to measure soil moisture.

Apart from the high-resolution precipitation, soil moisture and ground water data one of the most important products established in the implementation phase by the four partners in the upper Elbe Team is the complete water balance for the Müglitz catchment.  Starting with the 2020 campaign the data are handed over in near real time to the lower Elbe Team consisting of Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Center Geesthacht, Geomar, and UFZ.