Biogeochemical Cycles in the Earth System - an Overview

Category: Courses related to BGC cycles - Overview course
0.2 CP per course day

Goal of the module is an overview over the global Earth System, its major components (Atmosphere, ocean, land surfaces and cryosphere), their interactions through exchanges of energy, momentum and materials, and the major physical, chemical and biological processes controlling these exchanges. A special emphasis is given to the role of the global cycles of biogeochemical elements and their modifications in the context of global change.


1.  Overview

Date: November 16-20 and 30, 2015
Location: MPI for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Room B0.002
Course leaders: Martin Heimann, Susan Trumbore, Markus Reichstein


2.  Prerequisites

Please indicate in the registration form if you can bring a laptop to the course (for the practical part). You will need the Wolfram Mathematica Player and a web browser. If you do not have a laptop available, we can lend you one if we know early enough.


3.  Outline

L = Lecture, D = Demonstration, G = Group work

Nov. 16
   Martin Heimann
  • Introduction - Overview of Earth System
  • Components and processes in the Earth System (Atmosphere, Ocean, Land surfaces)
  • Fundamental scientific questions
  • Energy balance
 13:00-16:00L + D
  • Exercises with simple energy balance model
  • Feedback calculus
  • Bifurcations and chaos
Nov. 17
   Martin Heimann
  • Cycles of Carbon and Oxygen
  • Cycle of methane
  • Elementary atmospheric chemistry
 13:00-16:00L + DExercises with simple carbon cycle and carbon cycle - climate model
Nov. 18
   Susan Trumbore
 11:00-13:00L + D
  • N, S, P cycles
  • What are the forms of N, P, S, Fe in the Earth System?
  • Metabolic pathways and biogeochemistry - the energetics of biological transformations of elements
  • Stoichiometry: Productivity and its limitation in the Earth System
  • Linking of biogeochemical cycles — C, O2 and N, S , Fe cycles
  • Acid precipitation/soil acidification
  • N spiral
  • S aerosols
Nov. 19
   Susan Trumbore
  • Earth System History
  • How do we know what climate was like in the past?
  • Co-evolution of climate and atmosphere — Faint young sun paradox
  • Snowball earth and the C-rock cycle
  • Last 50 million years (descent into ice age)
  • Glacial-interglacial cycles
  • Holocene climate variations
  • Daisyworld
  • Interpreting paleoclimate records
Nov. 20
   Markus Reichstein, Sönke Zaehle
 09:00-10:30LWater cycle 
 11:00-13:00L + DCoupled BGC-climate models 
 14:00-16:00L + D
  • Global change
  • Comprehensive Earth System models
Nov. 30
   Martin Heimann
 09:00-12:00 Presentation and discussion of the research questions on global change1

1 The knowledge gained or refreshed in the overview course will be applied to research questions on global change. Every participants will report on a question on Monday, November 30, 2015.


4.  Registration

Click here to register before November 4, 2015.


5.  Literature

  • Wallace and Hobbs, Atmospheric Science, Elsevier Academic Press, International Geophysics Series, v92, 2002, ISBN: 0-12-732950-1, 483pp.
  • Schlesinger: Biogeochemistry - An analysis of global change, Elsevier Academic Press, 1997, ISBN: 978-0-12-625155-5, 588pp.
  • Jacobson, Charlson, Rhode and Orians: Earth System Science, Elsevier Academic Press, International Geophysics Series vol. 72, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-12-379370-6, 527pp.

6.  Course material

Material of Martin Heimann

Extra links

Material of Susan Trumbore

Material of Markus Reichstein

Material of Sönke Zaehle


7.  Feedback

This is the feedback of 14 (out of 16) participants regarding the overview course. Statistics and statements should not be taken as an exhaustive or exclusive list.

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