This paper provides an overview of the scientific background and the research objectives of the Research Unit “VolImpact” (Revisiting the volcanic impact on atmosphere and climate – preparations for the next big volcanic eruption, FOR 2820). VolImpact was recently funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and started in spring 2019. The main goal of the research unit is to improve our understanding of how the climate system responds to volcanic eruptions. Such an ambitious program is well beyond the capabilities of a single research group, as it requires expertise from complementary disciplines including aerosol microphysical modelling, cloud physics, climate modelling, global observations of trace gas species, clouds and stratospheric aerosols. The research goals will be achieved by building on important recent advances in modelling and measurement capabilities. Examples of the advances in the observations include the now daily near-global observations of multi-spectral aerosol extinction from the limb-scatter instruments OSIRIS, SCIAMACHY and OMPS-LP. In addition, the recently launched SAGE III/ISS and upcoming satellite missions EarthCARE and ALTIUS will provide high resolution observations of aerosols and clouds. ... mehrRecent improvements in modeling capabilities within the framework of the ICON model family now enable simulations at spatial resolutions fine enough to investigate details of the evolution and dynamics of the volcanic eruptive plume using the large-eddy resolving version, up to volcanic impacts on larger-scale circulation systems in the general circulation model version. When combined with state-of-the-art aerosol and cloud microphysical models, these approaches offer the opportunity to link eruptions directly to their climate forcing. These advances will be exploited in VolImpact to study the effects of volcanic eruptions consistently over the full range of spatial and temporal scales involved, addressing the initial development of explosive eruption plumes (project VolPlume), the variation of stratospheric aerosol particle size and radiative forcing caused by volcanic eruptions (VolARC), the response of clouds (VolCloud), the effects of volcanic eruptions on atmospheric dynamics (VolDyn), as well as their climate impact (VolClim).