Senckenberg Research

Research topics

The region of Central Asia with its diverse geo-ecosystems has an outstanding economic importance for the water and energy supply as well as for deposits of energy and mineral resources. The area is also characterized by particularly high natural geodynamics (mountain and plateau formation, erosion, earthquakes, landslides) with corresponding consequences for humans and infrastructure.

The mainly semi-arid region with the highest mountains and the largest mountain plateau in the world also plays a decisive role in the global climate system, since, for example, the Tibetan plateau has a significant influence on the Asian monsoon. Important hydrological processes such as flood and drought periods are dependent on the East Asian and Indian monsoons as well as the high mountain glaciers in this region which have a direct impact on the living conditions of around one third of the world's population.
The region reacts particularly sensitive to climate change as well as to human interventions in the natural geo-ecosystems. Climate processes such as the Indian monsoon also have an impact far beyond the regional climate and also influence the climate of the Northern Hemisphere, for example, in Europe. Changes in the Indian monsoon over the last three decades such as the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events are a cause for concern that this climate system is in the scope of global climate warming in a transitional phase and is heading towards a significant tipping point.

Tipping points are critical states that determine whether a perturbed system returns to its previous state or develops towards a new balanced state, and thus undergoes drastic changes. However, tipping points in the climate system are still insufficiently understood in many respects.
The BMBF joint project "CAME II: Crossing Climatic Tipping Points - Consequences for Central Asia" shall identify ecologic, climatic, and geologic tipping points in this region over the range of geologic and anthropogenic time-scales from the Pliocene up to the Holocene. In coordinated, interdisciplinary projects and in international cooperation critical thresholds as well as the underlying triggers and mechanisms will be studied spatially and temporally in order to estimate their consequences for geo-ecosystems and for today's society and to provide timely recommendations for action to minimize the impact of crossing future tipping points.

At present, CAME II consists of two major joint projectsQ-TiP  and CAHOL.