Carlos A. Sierra

Research group leader

Carlos A. Sierra
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Postbox 10 01 64 - 07701 Jena, Germany
+ 49 3641 576133
Orcid ID:

Research interests

My research focuses on understanding interactions between the environment and multiple biogeochemical cycles. I use mathematical tools, ecosystem models, and measurements to improve our predictions about the responses and feedbacks between climate and terrestrial ecosystems. I am particularly interested in tropical forests and their interactions with the climate system.

I lead an independent research group on Theoretical Ecosystem Ecology funded by the German Science Foundation through the Emmy Noether Program. Our group is focused on producing synthesis of ecosystem models and studying nonlinearities in biogeochemical cycling.


Degree   Institution   Year
PhD in Forest Science   Oregon State University   2006-2009
M.Sc. in Forest Science   Oregon State University   2003-2006
B.Sc. in Forestry   Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín   1995-2001


I teach different courses at the International Max Planck School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles and at other institutions:

Course   Institution   Material
Terrestrial biosphere   IMPRS-gBGC   Lecture notes
Ecosystem modeling   IMPRS-gBGC   Lecture notes
Radiocarbon models   U California Irvine   Lecture notes

Selected publications

Sierra, C. A., Metzler, H., Müller, M., & Kaiser, E. (2021). Closed-loop and congestion control of the global carbon-climate system. Climatic Change, 165(1), 15.

Sierra, C. A., Crow, S. E., Heimann, M., Metzler, H., & Schulze, E.-D. (2021). The climate benefit of carbon sequestration. Biogeosciences, 18(3), 1029–1048.

Sierra, C. A., Ceballos-Núñez, V., Metzler, H., & Müller, M. (2018). Representing and Understanding the Carbon Cycle Using the Theory of Compartmental Dynamical Systems. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 10(8), 1729–1734.

Metzler, H., Müller, M., & Sierra, C. A. (2018). Transit-time and age distributions for nonlinear time-dependent compartmental systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(6), 1150–1155.

Sierra, C. A., Müller, M., Metzler, H., Manzoni, S., & Trumbore, S. E. (2017). The muddle of ages, turnover, transit, and residence times in the carbon cycle. Global Change Biology, 23(5), 1763–1773.

Sierra, C. A., Trumbore, S. E., Davidson, E. A., Vicca, S., & Janssens, I. (2015). Sensitivity of decomposition rates of soil organic matter with respect to simultaneous changes in temperature and moisture. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 7(1), 335–356.

Sierra, C. A., & Müller, M. (2015). A general mathematical framework for representing soil organic matter dynamics. Ecological Monographs, 85, 505–524.

Sierra, C. A., Müller, M., & Trumbore, S. E. (2012). Models of soil organic matter decomposition: the SoilR package, version 1.0. Geosci. Model Dev., 5(4), 1045–1060.

Sierra, C. (2012). Temperature sensitivity of organic matter decomposition in the Arrhenius equation: some theoretical considerations. Biogeochemistry, 108(1), 1–15.