Geography and Natural Hazards Research

Group Leader

Prof. Dr. Annegret Thieken

+49 331 977 2984
+49 331-977-2761
Arbeitsgruppenbild Allgemeine Geologie
Verkehrsbehinderungen nach Starkregen (Foto: A. Thieken)

Research focus

Geography and Natural Risks Research

The chair “Geography and Natural Risks Research” within the Institute of Earth and Environmental Science was newly established in October 2011. This was done to strengthen University of Potsdam’s Research Focus Earth Sciences - particularly in the field of risk research. Further, it was a reaction to a rising demand coming from science, politics and economy: The global increase in damage and losses caused by natural hazards is clearly indicating the importance and necessity of effective prevention.

Besides being a member of the Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, the working group is also an active part of Potsdam’s Institute of Geography, especially with regard to the study programs for students who want to become geography school teachers.

What are we doing?

In our research, we want to generate data, assessment methods and knowledge for gaining in-depth understanding of the impacts of natural hazards on societies, the underlying root causes, and the effectiveness of prevention measures. Based on this, we seek to improve the resilience of societies towards natural hazards in a sustainable way, thus, getting societies which are less vulnerable and can better cope with hazardous events. We are mainly focussing on flooding and extreme rainfall events. However, we also look into other hydro-meteorological hazards such as droughts or heat waves.

Our work is strongly characterised by interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches. Thus, we use methods both from the natural and social sciences, e. g., empirical methods of the social sciences, statistics, geoinformatics and mathematical modelling. Together, we develop and approach research questions and topics which are scientifically important as well as highly relevant for practitioners.

In our study programmes within the Earth Sciences and Geography, we offer a broad range of courses allowing students to understand and analyse natural hazard events and their impacts from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. Problem-orientated and interactive teaching encourages students to critically reflect concepts and to participate in our research, e. g., by bachelor or master theses. In the long term, this, too, leads into an improvement of communication and perception of natural hazards, their impacts and management options - especially through knowledge transfer from our former students to their pupils in schools.

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