Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics

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It is an unprecedented time in Earth’s history. Changes in climate, biodiversity, and the degradation of soil and water ecosystems are major environmental issues facing society. The Institute of Earth Surface dynamics (IDYST) investigates the fundamental processes that underlie these major challenges. Our research is guided by two key questions:

  1. What is the impact of climate on landscape evolution, the cryosphere, and soil and water ecosystems?
  2. How do humans impact the natural environment through resource use, land use, and pollutant mobilization?

The strengths of IDYST are in its ability to study processes using a multi-disciplinary approach, with a strong focus on gaining a mechanistic understanding of environmental processes through fundamental physical, chemical, ecological investigations and methodological innovation.


Keywords:  Elemental cycles, climate (past, present, and future), minerals, ecosystems, soils, ice, vegetation, land-use, mechanistic processes, reactivity, isotopes, geochemistry, geocomputing, geostatistics, remote sensing, geochronology.


The institute currently includes 11 professors, five lecturers and senior lecturers and 15 research collaborators and research associates. The principle research topics are spearheaded by a number of research groups with distinct acronyms (LAKES, ALPWISE, ICE, ISOLAB, LGE, GAIA, BIOGEOSCIENCES, SPATIAL ECOLOGY, SE) but the research groups rely on strong collaborative interactions amongst all groups.