Faculty of Science will address “Geohazards”
The aim of the project is to study in detail the threats in the Earth's upper spheres, to understand the causes of their occurrence and to quantify the possible impacts on human society. Vojtěch Ettler comments: "I think all people perceive that the frequency and intensity of some negative natural processes are increasing. Almost every day we hear about some natural disasters, which often happen not only in the distant corners of the globe but also beyond our doorsteps. These are mainly extreme phenomena in the atmosphere and on the Earth's surface linked to climate change. We have seen many catastrophic rainfall events and associated flooding, erosion, and landslides. Now we realize that long dry periods and wildfires occur not only in semiarid areas but also in temperate regions. Not to mention the environmental pollution (soil, surface water and groundwater, and atmosphere), which is of anthropogenic origin and belongs to the most significant risks on the Earth's surface."
However, the proposal is not limited to the theoretical study of geohazards, quite the opposite. The emphasis is on integrating the obtained data and their subsequent real-life application. As a result, one of the project’s key outputs will be the development of monitoring and risk prediction tools, including proposals for mitigation of the impact of geohazards.
The field monitoring and characterising threats at individual model sites are essential for understanding natural and anthropogenic geohazards. The research will cover places in central Europe and the polar regions of Greenland or semiarid parts of Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, which are suitable "natural laboratories" for this type of research. Field and laboratory experiments as well as modelling techniques will be used to understand the abiotic (physical and chemical) and biotic processes leading to potential threats. Based on the data collected, the research team plans to develop and optimise comprehensive risk prediction tools, such as warning systems useful for the government bodies or other software and modelling tools.
"Both natural and anthropogenic geohazards are inherently very complex processes and require a high degree of interdisciplinarity within the natural sciences. We are therefore very pleased that in addition to the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics and the Charles University Environment centre, nine other key partner institutions from the Czech Republic will participate in the project (in particular institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences such as the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Institute of Rock Structure and Mechanics, Institute of Computer science and Global Change Research Institute, as well as the Czech Geological Survey, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, research teams from the Masaryk University, the University of Ostrava and the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague). We anticipate that the research teams will operate across disciplines and advance our knowledge on this issue. An integral part of the project is also a close cooperation with numerous top foreign institutes and private entities", says Vojtěch Ettler.