The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) funds a new priority research program (Schwerpunktprogramm, SPP).The initiative is coordinated by Prof. Todd Ehlers from the Department of Geoscience at the University of Tübingen and Prof. Friedhelm von Blanckenburg from the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. The program allocates €10.2m over two periods of three years each for the project titled: EarthShape: Earth Surface Shaping by Biota.
A common Geoscience paradigm holds that the Earth surface is shaped mainly by climate (eroding soil) and tectonics (building mountains). TheEarthShape project challenges this paradigm to explore how in addition biologic processes form soil, influence topography, and thereby shape the Earth surface and modulates the impact of climate change on the Earth surface. The influence of microorganisms, plants, and animals on the formation of soils and the shape of topography is still poorly understood, but new scientific technology now allows to identify their role. Research into biologic controls on topography is particularly important for understanding how future climate and biologic changes will impact the Earth’s surface.