Resilient soil and water resources: understanding the water beneath your feet


Background of the project

When considering the major risks resulting from climate change, people often watch the skies, expecting extreme rainfall events and storm surges to have an impact on their daily lives and working lives. However, the water under our feet is also known to be a major actor when it comes to the quality and quantity of our water resources.

Many of our day-to-day activities are tied to the upper part of the soil layer. This is where we cultivate crops, build infrastructure and develop our modern societies. In addition, the main hydrological and chemical dynamics are represented in this layer of the subsurface.

Dialogues with the most important stakeholders in the North Sea Region, at local, regional and EU level, have pointed out that climate change is having a rapid impact on the topsoil and groundwater layers. As a result, many regions in Europe are faced with an increased threat of flooding due to rising groundwater, while other regions are facing drought and a scarcity of drinking water.

Objectives of the project

The Topsoil Project will explore the possibilities of using the topsoil layers to solve current and future water challenges. It looks beneath the surface of the ground, predicts and finds solutions for climate related threats like flooding during wet periods and droughts during summer seasons. The overall objective of the Topsoil Project is the joint development of methods to describe and manage the uppermost 30 m of the subsurface, in order to improve the climate resilience of the North Sea Region. In addition, the project will demonstrate a practical implementation of solutions in 16 pilot projects.

A view to fieldwork: seismic crew investigating groundwaterrelevant subsurface structures (in german):

P-wave seismics

S-wave seismics


Project lead

Dr. Mike Müller-Petke

until 30.10.2020:
Dr. Helga Wiederhold

Project scientist

Dr. Mohammad Azizur Rahman




Funded by

Interreg North Sea Region Programme 2014-2020


Belgium (1), Denmark (6), Germany (8), UK (6), Netherlands (3)