The ZMK investigates the coupled earth system by means of observation, generation of theory and model simulation, concentrating on processes in the solid earth, the oceans, the atmosphere and the biosphere. For this, the ZMK has designated the following main foci:
- Earth System Processes: Recognition and quantification of interactions between the sub-systems geosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and anthroposphere;
- Earth System Models: Advanced development of coupled models, including the different sub-systems, for simulation and prediction of the effects of global change;
- Earth System Management: Provision of models and methods as instruments for information, planning and legislation on global, regional and local scales.
Five University institutes are integrated in the teaching at ZMK. Courses are offered in Physical Oceanography (Master), Meteorology (Master), Biological Oceanography and Fishery Biology (Master Biology), Marine Chemistry (Master Geology / Chemistry), Geophysics (Master), Geology (Master). The ZMK also offers two international graduate schools.