(Dept. 1) Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry

Kernthemen Department 1

The interactions within and between green water (in terrestrial systems) and blue water (lakes, rivers, and subsurface aquifers) affect in complex ways the habitats for organisms and the reactive transport of abiotic components. Aquatic and terrestrial systems are coupled at multiple spatio-temporal scales. The overall goal of the Department of Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry is to understand the ecohydrological and biogeochemical processes of these connected land- and waterscapes in natural, rural and urban environments. Therefore, our research projects focus on the following core topics:

  • Interactions of  landscape-freshwater ecosystems
  • Physical and biogeochemical drivers under global change
  • Water security in disturbed and urban systems

In our research, we integrate different modelling approaches with data collected in field studies, in large-scale manipulation studies,  by long-term monitoring and in laboratory experiments. We study ecohydrological and biogeochemical processes using a variety of tracer techniques, particularly stable isotopes, and by measuring naturally dissolved solutes, conservative geogenic ions, trace organic matter, and nutrients. In doing so, we combine basic research with application aspects and aim to record and model the effects of climate and land use changes. With its laboratory infrastructure and expertise in the fields of inorganic and organic analysis as well as isotope measurement, the department performs a central function for the entire institute. To achieve our research goal, we combine our professional expertise from the research disciplines of hydrology, geochemistry, aquatic physics, ecology, environmental engineering, and geography.

Contact persons

Department members

Selected publications

September 2023

Environmental Science & Technology - XX(2023)XX, XX

Predicting PFAS and Hydrophilic Trace Organic Contaminant Transport in Black Carbon-Amended Engineered Media Filters for Improved Stormwater Runoff Treatment

James Conrad Pritchard; Yeo-Myoung Cho; Kathleen Mills Hawkins; Stephanie Spahr; Christopher P. Higgins; Richard G. Luthy

Hydrophilic organic contaminants and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are difficult to remove from stormwater runoff. A contaminant transport model was validated to better estimate the removal of contaminants in stormwater filtration systems.

August 2023
Science of the Total Environment. - 900(2023), Art. 165764

Effects of 66 years of water management and hydroclimatic change on the urban hydrology and water quality of the Panke catchment, Berlin, Germany

Christian Marx; Doerthe Tetzlaff; Reinhard Hinkelmann; Christopher Soulsby

The authors analysed a data set of 66-yr streamwater quality,  21-yr of groundwater quality and 31-yr streamflow nested from the heavily urbanized Panke catchment in Berlin. The upstream parts showed a flow regime most sensitive to changes in hydroclimatic conditions, downstream sites are more influenced by wastewater effluents, urban storm drains and inter-basin transfers for flood alleviation.

July 2023
Journal of Hydrology. - 624(2023), Art. 129905

Attenuation of trace organic compounds along hyporheic flow paths in a lowland sandbed stream

Christoph J. Reith; Stephanie Spahr; Anke Putschew; Joerg Lewandowski

As the hyporheic zone of rivers can be very heterogeneous already at cm-scales, the authors developed an experimental setup to preset short and shallow hyporheic flow paths in the field and to sample pore water. In this experimental setup, the authors were able to study the attenuation of 18 different trace organic compounds wherein the majority were attenuated within the short oxic sections.

June 2023
Journal of Hydrology. - 623(2023), Art. 129817

Synoptic water isotope surveys to understand the hydrology of large intensively managed catchments

Ke Chen; Doerthe Tetzlaff; Tobias Goldhammer; Jonas Freymueller; Songjun Wu; Aaron Andrew Smith; Axel Schmidt; Guodong Liu; Markus Venohr; Chris Soulsby

Using seasonal, large scale synoptic sampling of stable water isotopes and tritium along the Spree allowed to assess water cycling, storage and losses. The Spree is heavily regulated and drought-sensitive due to high evapotranspiration losses. Such insights are important to adjust water management strategies.

June 2023
Journal of Hydrology. - 622(2023)Part A, Art. 129750

Quantifying changes and trends of NO3 concentrations and concentration-discharge relationships in a complex, heavily managed, drought-sensitive river system

Ji Liu; Doerthe Tetzlaff; Tobias Goldhammer; Songjun Wu; Chris Soulsby

Long-term stream nitrate nitrogen concentrations and concentration-discharge were investigated along the Spree revealing significant heterogeneity in both variables. The upstream parts and winter seasons showed the most serious pollution. Concentrations and relationships are also likely to respond strongly to future droughts, leading to challenges for future land and water management.

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