Lakes and rivers react extremely sensitively to climate change and environmental changes. As such, they act as an early warning system for global ecological change. Our long-term programmes at Lake Stechlin and the lake Müggelsee, as well as on the River Spree and the River Tagliamento in Italy document the consequences of this change. Data spanning several decades enables us to forecast how freshwaters will develop under certain scenarios. In the LakeLab, our globally unique experimental facility in Lake Stechlin, we simulate the impact that changing environmental conditions (e.g. extreme weather events or the increasing use of artificial lighting) have on lakes and aquatic organisms.
Vice versa, freshwaters also have an impact on climate change. They have the ability to store or release large quantities of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. We investigate which conditions influence these processes and what role is played by rivers, lakes and wetlands in the global carbon cycle.