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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

The modeller Tobias Krüger calls for collaboration between science and society on waterrelated issues

Prof. Tobias Krüger leads the Research Group "Transformations and uncertainties of land-water systems" at IRI THESys and teaches at the Geography Department and at the Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences.

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How models can be of help in decision-making

The geoecologist and hydrologis Tobais Krüger still receives messages from water companies, farmer's associations, and environmental associations in England where he developed a computer model that simulates scenarios of land use near rivers. “Using this model, we can see how the intensification of agriculture or waste water from a sewage treatment plant would affect ecosystems and their water quality. That helps us in making decisions”, he says. The special thing about the model is that it was developed with local actors who now actively use it and who ask the researcher from time to time for small adjustments on the model. Born at the Rhine, Krüger came to Berlin in 2013 after 8 years in England to continue his research along the river Spree. 

Tobias Krüger wants to explore Berlin's water landscape (figure: Katja Janson)

The meaning of water

Now the 37-year-old researcher wants to apply participatory approaches in Berlin and bring together different stakeholders ranging from companies to consumers for a joint status description of the local water landscape. For the natural scientist, water is the basis of physicochemical processes as well as of human activity. "Which role does the water resource play in the development of Berlin? Who has which water needs and access to water? I am not only interested in problems such as water pollution or utilization pressures. I also find the positive inclusion of water in our lives exciting, such as the use of the Spree as a public swimming spot", he says. Whereas the local contacts for water research in Berlin are still to be established, research cooperation between Germany and Colombia is already well established. Since 2014 the research group of Tobias Krüger collaborates with the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá (PUJ) on questions of water security and biodiversity.