Research field Geology


The working group of Geology at PLUS is concerned with the dynamics of the Earth system in all its facets. One focus is on the study of mountains and adjacent basins, their development on different spatial and temporal scales, and their importance as spaces for settlements and ecosystems. In the department, four main subjects are explored: Tectonics & Structural Geology, Geodynamics & Numerical Modeling, Quaternary Geology & Geothermal Energy, and Environmental- & Hydrogeology. Together, we work on fundamental research questions, such as the structure and evolution of mountain ranges resulting from the interplay of plate tectonics-driven topography formation and climate-driven erosive surface processes. A sound knowledge of soft and hard rocks and their structures, as well as shapes of the Earth’s surface that have emerged from long-lasting processes at the mountain scale, form the basis for applied research questions that address some of the burning questions of the 21st century. These include the sustainable use of natural resources (e.g., water or geothermal energy), the effects of climate change on alpine landscapes, and the interaction of geogenic and anthropogenic processes.

Foto Geologie

Working Group Geology

Research field Physical Geography


The surface of our Earth – the place we live on – is at the centre of geomorphology. Due to climate change and human intervention, the Earth’s surface is changing dramatically right now: extreme weather events are amplifying many processes and new dynamics have emerged that were previously unknown. For example, extreme events amplify some processes and others occur in places where they have not been observed before. Terrain measurements, remote sensing techniques, laboratory experiments and numerical modelling help us to understand Earth surface processes and their interactions with the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and pedosphere. We pay special attention to the study of alpine natural hazards and the Anthropocene – the age in which humans dominate global material flows. We apply this knowledge to shape our lives sustainably and safely despite the dynamics of the environment.

Foto Geomorphologie

Working Group Geomorphology

research field Physical Geography

Climate and Environmental Dynamics

The focus of the Working Group Climate and Environmental Dynamics is on quantifying and regionalising climate change and variability in (high) mountain ecosystems in Asia, Europe and South America. In this context, investigations are conducted over various scales on recent climatic history (since the Little Ice Age) as well as on long-term climatic variations (multicentennial to millennial years). This includes studies on glacier and landscape dynamics, on changes in the hydrological cycle, studying hydroclimate variability and changing ecosystems in high mountain areas. Our key analytical methods range from the application of different climate/environmental proxy datasets (e.g. parameters derived from different woody species such as tree-ring width or stable isotopes in tree-rings), geospatial raster data sets (remote sensing and re-analysis data) as well as instrumental environmental measurement series (climate and dendrometer data). The broad application and analysis spectrum offers broad and sound links to interdisciplinary climate and hazard research and human-environment research, to studies on land-use change and livelihood research at the margins of the ecumene, which are highly sensitive to environmental change.

Foto Klima- und Umweltdynamik

Working Group Climate and Environmental Dynamics

Research field Physical Geography

Urban and Landscape Ecology

Scientists in the research field of Physical Geography: Urban and Landscape Ecology deal with questions of geographical human-environment research. Interdisciplinary research focuses on urban ecosystem services and green infrastructure, socio-ecological approaches to ecosystem services and resource, urban space production and the appropriation of water resources and societal challenges from climate change. Our study areas are in the city and federal state of Salzburg as well as in the Mediterranean (Balearic Island Mallorca). Central methods and approaches of our work are geodata-based analyses (with GIS, aerial and satellite images) of spatial structures and systemic processes, the analysis of socio-natural sites, their resource flows and fluxes, space-time self-commitment and path dependencies. We analyse (urban) spaces and places, artefacts and stocks, taking into account multiple scales and levels, from neighbourhoods and districts to urban and landscape scale. Another research focus is on the climate regulation of urban trees with urban ecological measurement methods and numerical microclimate simulation.

Foto Stadt- und Landschaftsökologie

Working Group Urban and Landscape Ecology