Biologie and Geography

The research teams at the Institute of Geography deal with problems taken both from natural sciences and social sciences.
The main research focus of climatology was on urban climatology and examination of the climate in the surrounding green areas and countryside. Special attention was paid to particulate matter and the flow and horizontal distribution of CO2 over areas of heterogeneous land use, as well as to investigating and evaluating the effect of global change on urban climate.
Analysis of the urban climate of Bochum in cooperation with the Regionalverband Ruhr (RVR) drew to a close. Meanwhile work got underway on a guide to urban climatology in the Ruhr area in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment and Conservation, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in NRW (MUNLV).
In Geology, an interdisciplinary research project in geo-ecology and tectonics kicked off with a fascinating question: What are hill-building forest ants doing on active shear and fault zones of the earth’s crust? The Geology team is investigating the most recent rupture structures of the lithosphere of the Rhenish Massif. The rupture structures are characterised by microseisms, the occurrence of specific minerals, and ascending soil gases that escape at the earth’s surface in a characteristic composition. Precisely these fault zones, the tectonic fractures, seem to be an attractive habitat for hill-building forest ants of the Formicinae species. This surprising finding has been verified with the help of extensive investigations and statistical evaluations of regions all over central Europe. The results have been available online under Ecological Indicators since September 2008 and will be published in May 2009.
Possible causes and explanations for this new phenomenon are being researched in cooperation with the physiologist Dr. Stefan Hetz (Humboldt University). It was found that these ants are very temperature-sensitive and are attracted to warmer locations. The habitats chosen on or near thefault zones are warmer in winter than other areasdue to the ascending soil gases. This led to the conclusion that the ants make use of geothermal energy.
The Institute of Geography launched two new research projects in the field of human geography at the end of 2007. The first deals with the economic and social geography of the Ruhr areain the years 1815 to 2010: economic and sociogeographical data of the aforementioned period are collected at regional and communal level and compiled in time series – a desideratum in regional research. The aim is to achieve statistical comparability to Paul Wiel’s “Wirtschaftsgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets”, Essen 1970. At theend of the Ruhr region’s industrial era, it willbe possible to highlight and analyse economic, social, demographic and urban trends and cycles according to longitudinal themes, and to typify subregions of this area.
The second project looks at the city of Essen in the years 1810 to 2010 to illustrate developments in an industrial and cultural landscape. The project involves documenting the urbangeography and spatial and chronological development of the city from the pre-industrial town to the “capital” of a post-industrial metropolis, analysing the theoretical background behind the planning objectives, actions and effects of decision-makers at the various stages of development,and evaluating potential and possibilities. Publications are planned for both projects.
A further project, in cooperation with the London School of Economics, was added to the list in 2008: “Urban areas – perspectives of anew regional concept in Britain”.Under this project, a SWOT analysis is to identify theurban potential, deficits and planning aims to help create a decentralised system of urbancentres with regional supply functions in centralist Great Britain.
In 2008, the main areas of research in Economic Geography were application and planning-oriented aspects of economic and traffic geography. The focal point was the successful conclusion of the BMBF / BMWi research project looking at traffic prevention at “end-of-runway” logistic sites. A symposium on the topic was held at Frankfurt Airport. Other central themes related to the evalu­ation of location development potential at logistic sites and traffic hubs.
In addition to the existing cooperation with the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, first contacts were established with universities in the USA (Chicago, Denver, San Francisco) and Irkutsk / Siberia (Russia). A meeting with the Russian colleagues is scheduled for 2009.