BOKLIM - Application of soil data in climate research

Background and Goals

For the implementation of the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (DAS) for soil protection, reliable data and time series on long-term changes in soil quality and soil functions are required. The instruments of the soil monitoring and the documentation of soil conditions thereby represent a crucial data base. In Germany there are permanently established monitoring programs with representative offices, and regular grid-based surveys of soil conditions. The programs operate in varying degrees according to principles agreed between the parties. Information on soil data are currently inconsistent and spread across many locations, meaning that there is a great potential for improvement, especially regarding the provision of (meta) data.

In the BOKLIM project, the suitability of soil data from the major national and permanently operated programs for soil monitoring and soil condition documentation for climate research were evaluated for the first time across measurement networks. The focus was thereby on changes in the ground conditions due to climate change. Accordingly, the programs provide a wealth of valuable data for assessing the impacts of climate change on soil.

Depending on the issue and the resulting requirements, the resulting data are suitable for:

  1. the long-term monitoring of changes in soil conditions;
  2. process studies and more in-depth measurements at representative sites, also for example for the calibration and validation of predictive models; and
  3. use in model scenarios on changes in soil conditions.

However, it is necessary to coordinate the soil monitoring and soil condition programs with focus on concrete issues, and adapt to specific locations, in order to be able to exploit their potential for climate change and adaptation. Besides the evaluation of soil data, a first approach to efficient data provision and utilization already exists. Recommendations for the next steps for coordinating and optimizing future measurement and collection activities are made to the responsible institutions and actors; research needs are also identified. The recommendations are directed at climate-related issues, but also include a number of independent thematic aspects, which for example can be adopted for the soil conservation or biodiversity strategy.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

The agro-meteorological measurement program of the DWD as well as some of the sites of the soil monitoring and long-term experiments provide adequate ground data for the calibration and validation of climate models. For the modeling of climate impacts, data from high-resolution time-intensive monitoring are most suitable, whereby additional research-based approaches to model development are required. The suitability of data, for example for surface representation and investigation procedures, must be reviewed depending on the research question and model applied in each case.

Further Parameters 

- climatological measurements

- carbon content

- soil type

- drainage

- depth to groundwater (capillary rise)

- soil temperature and soil moisture

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

Climate changes can have many effects on the functioning of soils. It is clear that precipitation and temperature changes are closely related to the multiple interactions between ground water suppy, organic matter, soil structure and biological activity.

As a result of already carried out analyses of data from soil monitoring and soil condition documentation, at present only small scale climate change-induced trends for soil can be derived. Alone from the programs already operated over extended periods (e.g. > 30 years), such as long-term agricultural field experiments, declining trends in carbon stocks in soil, which can also be caused by climatic changes, can already be seen. Not previously considered are the changes caused by changes in the economy (different crop types, variety selection, soil management, etc.) to adapt to climate change (feedback effects).

The BOKLIM projects aims to make soil condition and soil monitoring data more widely known in climate change and climate adaptation research so that they will be increasingly used in the future.

Step 5: Watch and evaluate adaptation (monitoring and evaluation)

Approach, objective and results of the monitoring and/or evaluation 

The BOKLIM projects aims to make soil condition and soil monitoring data more widely known in climate change and climate adaptation research so that they will be increasingly used in the future.

The adaptation and modification of soil monitoring and soil condition documentation programs to comply with the standards of data quality, resiliency and comprehensiveness (parameter range and frequency of measurement), as well as to fully comply with area and land-use representation. Moreover, successful implementation in climate change and climate adaptation research critically depends on the participation and integration of all the relevant actors from data collection, maintenance and use.


Increased use of soil data in the climate change impact and adaptation research by means of a:

  • Concise and descriptive summary of the current soil condition survey and soil monitoring activities
  • Summary of relevant climate research questions that can be addressed with the aid of the aforementioned data;
  • Appraisal of the national/regional results from the work with this data available so far;
  • Recommendation on networking the existing instruments for the soil condition survey and soil monitoring activities;


Funding / Financing 

BMUB/UBA in the framework of the Environmental Research Plan


FG II 2.7 Soil condition, soil monitoring
Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  soil