Understanding global changes, quantifying hazards and mitigating risks


The IRD research teams in the Department of Internal and Surface Dynamics of Continents (DISCO) study the functioning of the Earth’s system via its physical and biogeochemical dynamics, subject to global changes (climatic, economic and demographic) which can take situations beyond tipping points. The DISCO department’s work focuses on two main seminal areas: observation and modelling of the continents’ physical environments, and the interactions between changes to the physical environments and socio-economic dynamics. The scientific goals are the understanding of global changes and above all climate change, the quantification of hazards, risk mitigation for populations, and the prospects for new resources.

Les objectifs scientifiques sont la compréhension des changements globaux, et en premier lieu du changement climatique, la quantification des aléas, la réduction des risques pour les populations, et la prospection de nouvelles ressources.

The main themes covered by the department’s research teams are:

Key figures

Flagship projects

ICE MEMORY: Success of the expedition on the Illimani glacier in Bolivia

The second expedition of the ICE MEMORY project took place on the Illimani glacier (Bolivia), from 22 May to 18 June 2017. Two ice cores were extracted at an altitude of over 6300 m. One of these cores will be analysed, and the other will become part of the first global core library containing glacier archives, from glaciers threatened by global warming, in Antarctica.

Vulnerability of intertropical coastal zones

The Academy of Sciences has published a special themed issue1, devoted to the vulnerability of intertropical coastal zones. Directed by Isabelle Manighetti, a researcher at the Cote d’Azur Observatory and joint director of the Géoazur research laboratory, this issue involves many IRD researchers and partners.

Eruption of the Mount Agung volcano in Indonesia

In early 2018, the Indonesian Volcanology and Geological Disasters Centre published a public report on the situation of the Mount Agung volcano in Bali, which has been erupting since the end of November 2017. The conclusions of this report, owe a lot to research conducted by IRD.


  • Crossed research on Chadian lakeside ecosystems

    This conference took place to N'Djaména on April 25th and 26th, 2017. It joins within the framework of the activities of the GELT project (Great Chadian Lakeside Ecosystems)

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  • International meeting of the Amazonian rivers Observatory

    7th international meeting of the HYBAM Amazonian rivers Observatory.

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  • Integrate climate services into the French development agenda

    AFD – IRD conference debate, “how to integrate climate services into the French development agenda”.

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  • Launch of the AMEDEE international collaborative platform

    From 5 to 8 December 2017, in Yamoussoukro, the official launch of the AMEDEE network (mining activity, environments, development, economies, ethics) coordinated by IRD in co-construction with its international and national partners.

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And in the future?

IRD will continue its support actions for the co-ordination and structuring of the Earth system physical and biogeochemical sciences community:

  • support for the “Climate hazards and services” PSIP and launch of the “Resource exploitation and environment” PSIP
  • consolidation of environmental observation measures in the Mediterranean zone and the intertropical zone, as part of the OZCAR (French network of Critical Zone Observatories: Research and Applications) national research infrastructure
  • collective reflection on the future of the “hydrology” and “mineralogy-geochemistry of the environment” themes
  • Support for dialogue between the scientific communities of the inner earth-continental surfaces domains, via a collective reflection workshop on couplings (relationships between short and long term biogeophysical processes of the critical zone)