Exhibition: Digital Forest - a virtual journey into climate research

Laser scan from the Hainich National Park Photo: Göttingen University / Dominik
Laser scan from the Hainich National Park Photo: Göttingen University / Dominik Seidel

New special exhibition at Forum Wissen from 26 October 2023 to 4 February 2024.

Climate change is increasingly having an impact on all of our day-to-day thoughts and lives. It is also causing big problems for the forest. The new special exhibition "Digital Forest" in the Forum Wissen, the knowledge museum of the University of Göttingen, uses virtual reality to show how scientists from the Universities of Göttingen and Leipzig are researching issues such as the effects of drought on the forest. At the same time, visitors are invited to consider their own actions and behaviour in the climate crisis. This special exhibition runs from 26 October 2023 to 4 February 2024.

The exhibition focuses on innovative technologies and methods of climate research in the forest, such as state-of-the-art sensor technology and data analysis methods from the field of artificial intelligence. In an area of the Hainich National Park, one of the most pristine forests in Central Europe, a network of sensors records the transport of water from the roots right up to the leaves every 30 minutes. From a 40-metre-high measuring tower, the "breath of the forest" is constantly being measured and data on evaporation and CO2 absorption is collected. Thanks to modern laser technology, digital copies of the trees are created, revealing the drought damage. High above, satellites are orbiting, providing a bird’s eye view of the changes in the forest.

The Digital Forest special exhibition makes all this visible and tangible. Using cutting edge computer technology, it illustrates how climate research is carried out in the forest ecosystem. At the same time, the exhibition encourages visitors to think about what each and every one of us can do to protect the climate. A journey in virtual reality takes visitors right inside the research station in the Hainich National Park, bringing to life modern field research in the forest. This immersive experience is framed by actual objects such as measuring instruments, informative graphics, hands-on stations and diverse voices from research. There is a German saying -shout into the forest and a similar echo will return- which loosely translates as -you reap what you sow-, or eventually you will have to face the consequences of your actions: this is clearly demonstrated by the Digital Forest. Current perspectives from forest protection, climate activism and climate politics are intended to encourage people to consider their own actions and to continue the essential dialogue between science and society about the climate crisis.

The exhibition runs from 26 October 2023 to 4 February 2024 in the Freiraum of the Forum Wissen Berliner Straße 28, 37073 Göttingen), which is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00. Further information about the Forum Wissen, the knowledge museum of the University of Göttingen: https://www.forum-wissen.de/e­n/home-en/