The global terrestrial biosphere, i.e. the vegetation and soils, strongly reacts to variations in atmospheric conditions but also influences the atmosphere via exchange of matter and energy (e.g. trace gases, latent and sensible heat). These interactions occur on time-scales that range from seconds to millennia, and ascend from the molecular to the global spatial scale. They are mediated by the action of organisms which shape important biogeochemical and biogeophysical processes in their ecosystems, which in turn are forming landscapes, regions, and biomes. Hence we study the nature and the role of these interactions between the biosphere and the atmosphere, using a modelling approach, which integrates observations from organisms to global scale. This research should ultimately help understanding how the biosphere is reacting to and is exerting feedbacks on ongoing environmental change (e.g. changing water cycle, global warming, increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, and nitrogen deposition).


June 2015, Jakob Zscheischler was honoured with the Otto Hahn Medal.

June 2015, Matthias Forkel sucessfully defended his PhD thesis at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena.

April 2015, Verena Bessenbacher joined the department to work on the SMANIE experiment.

Latest papers

Medlyn, B.E., Zaehle, S . et al. (2015) Using ecosystem experiments to improve vegetation models. Nature Climate Change 5,528–534, DOI:10.1038/nclimate2621

Frank, D., Reichstein, M., Bahn, M., Thonicke, K., Frank, D., Mahecha, M.D., Smith, P., van der Velde, M., Vicca, S., Babst, F., Beer, C., Buchmann, N., Canadell, J.G., Ciais, P., Cramer, W., Ibrom, A., Miglietta, F., Poulter, B., Rammig, A., Seneviratne, S.I., Walz, A., Wattenbach, M., Zavala, M.A., Zscheischler, J. (2015) Effects of climate extremes on the terrestrial carbon cycle: concepts, processes and potential future impacts. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/gcb.12916

Forkel, M., Migliavacca, M., Thonicke, K., Reichstein, M., Schaphoff, S., Weber, U., and Carvalhais, N. (2015) Co-dominant water control on global inter-annual variability and trends in land surface phenology and greenness. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/gcb.12950

Dalmonech, D., Zaehle, S., Schürmann, G., Brovkin, V., Reick, C., Schnur, R. (2015). Separation of the effects of land and climate model errors on simulated contemporary land carbon cycle trends in the MPI Earth system model VI. Journal of Climate, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00593.1.

Carvalhais, N., Forkel, M., Khomik, M., et al. (2014) Global covariation of carbon turnover times with climate in terrestrial ecosystems. Nature, 514, 213-217 doi:10.1038/nature13731