The Dead Sea is a unique environment located in the Dead Sea Rift Valley.

The fault system of the Dead Sea Rift Valley marks the political borders between Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. At the same time, it is the central basis of life in this region and of great economic and ecological importance, as it collects and channels the water from the mountains.

On the other hand, ongoing sea level decline, desertification, flash floods, ascending brines polluting freshwater, sinkhole development, and repeated occurrence of earthquakes demonstrate the destructive potential of this unique environment. Climate change and extensive exploitation of groundwater and surface water even aggravate the situation.

These processes are closely connected to the physiographical and geological structure of the Dead Sea basin and result in three key challenges: Environmental risks, water availability, and climate change.

Environmental Risks

For about 1000 years, seismicity of the Eastern Mediterranean has been documented extremely well. Since then, it has declined significantly, especially in recent times. The anthropogenic impact, in particular the impact of extensive utilization of groundwater and surface water, on seismicity and recent sinkhole development is unknown.

Water Availability

The extreme man-made impact on the water resources led to a dramatic decline of the Dead Sea level of approximately 1m per year during the past 30 years. Understanding the water cycle on different scales allows for the quantification of the groundwater/surface water budget and may serve as a basis for a sustainable water resources management.

Climate Change

The Eastern Mediterranean is among the regions most sensitive to historical and future climate change. Over the last 2000 years, the climate in the Dead Sea region has changed dramatically. The reasons and possible anthropogenic impacts are poorly understood.

Water is the link between these challenges and the associated geophysical, hydrological as well as meteorological processes. Understanding their interactions and their future evolution is of key importance to economic development in peaceful cooperation.

Our Motivation

The challenges of environmental risk, water availability, and climate change are of outstanding current importance. A thorough understanding of the associated processes, in particular sinkhole genesis, groundwater movement, and extreme runoff events, as well as the quantification of the water budget components, such as evaporation, cannot be achieved from the point of view of one discipline only. A joint effort of earth sciences, water research and technology, in combination with atmospheric and climate research, is required.

DESERVE is designed as a cross-disciplinary and cooperative international research project offering the unique opportunity to integrate disciplinary knowledge in geophysics, hydrology, and meteorology into a joint scientific approach. The integrated research activities are accomplished by a network of scientific institutions of all neighboring countries of the Dead Sea and based on the long-term disciplinary activities of the participating Helmholtz Centers in the region.

Besides establishing a spirit of cooperation between the different disciplines of earth and environmental sciences, DESERVE strengthens scientific exchange among the riparian countries and institutions.


DESERVE addresses the challenges of environmental risks, water availability, and climate change under the unique conditions of the Dead Sea region. DESERVE will contribute to a sound scientific understanding of coupled atmospheric, hydrological, and lithospheric processes.

A long-term monitoring network of meteorological, hydrological, and seismic/geodynamic stations, interdisciplinary field experiments as well as modeling studies will be established. Prediction models, remediation strategies, and risk assessments will be developed to master the above challenges.

The scientific methods developed and applied as well as the data retrieved will be transferred to all DESERVE partners. DESERVE places a special focus on the interdisciplinary education of young scientists. Young scientists, students, established senior scientists, engineers, and technicians from all DESERVE partners will meet at joint thematic workshops and field experiments.

A detailed description of the planned activities is listed here.

The Partners

DESERVE is a joint project of the Helmholtz Centers KIT, GFZ, and UFZ and their partners from Germany, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. The partners currently involved in DESERVE are listed here.

The network is still being extended. New partners are welcome!

Funding and Coordination

The Virtual Institute Dead Sea Research Venue, DESERVE, is funded by the Helmholtz Association under the ‘HGF Initiative and Networking Fund’ for the period 2012 – 2017.

Further funding is contributed by the DESERVE partners.

KIT, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, coordinates the project.