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Ten scientific objectives constitute the scientific mission of the Program and serve both to integrate our scientific activities and as a measuring stick for their impact with regard to societal benefits.

In their entirety, these objectives set out to lay the path towards a future Earth that can sustain human society and the biosphere as a whole.

Recent Highlights

Extremely high benthic biomass provides food for predators and scavengers. Oceanographic conditions influence brooding habitat suitability for icefish. Unique ecosystem supports establishment of a marine protected area (MPA)

A vast icefish breeding colony discovered in the Antarctic

The colony was estimated to cover at least ∼240 km2 of the eastern flank of the Filchner Trough, comprised of fish nests at a density of 0.26 nests per square meter, representing an estimated total of ∼60 million active nests and associated fish biomass of >60,000 tonnes. To our knowledge, the area surveyed harbors the most spatially expansive continuous fish breeding colony discovered to date globally at any depth, as well as an exceptionally high Antarctic seafloor biomass. This discovery provides support for the establishment of a regional marine protected area in the Southern Ocean under the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) umbrella.

Program structure

Nine research Topics and their project-type Subtopics form the structural backbone of the Program. Topics are designed for high thematic coherence, communicable missions, multidisciplinarity and complementarity across centers.

Cross-Cutting Activities build the bridge to other Research Fields and promote thematic profiling and networking between topics

The research data management is consolidated in the DataHub which provides: overarching data portal, digitalization for scientific workflows including data flows, thematic viewers for different stake-holders, support of science-to-science networks

Innopool projects serves to strengthen the cooperation between the centers by funding of new innovative ideas in 3-year projects 

SynCom is designed as an overarching synthesis and communication platform for the Earth and Environment Research Field where scientists study our planet comprehensively within nine topics

AWI, GEOMAR and GFZ are responsible for the operation of seven large user facilities infrastructures: research stations, aircraft, research vessels, and a Modular Earth Science Infrastructure (MESI).

Topics | CCA | DataHub | Innopool | SynCom | User Facilities


  • General Assembly of Program „Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future”:  25/26 April 2022 | bcc Berlin and online (hybrid format)

Once a year the Program Board, scientists of the nine topics, the CCAs, the Innopool projects, the SynCom teams, the  Management Board and the Support Team assemble to exchange information and ideas, to share developments and advances, to swap insights and strategies. Format: Plenary as well as breakout group sessions. The plenary sessions were streamed online. The onsite participation 2022 was by invitation only.

Delegates, impressions (© Christian Kielmann) and

venue (© bcc Berlin Congress Center, located at Alexanderstraße):

The Program “Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future” bundles the expertise of more than 1.200 scientists – reinforced by doctoral students, post-doctoral students, technical and administrative personnel – from seven Helmholtz centers.