Max Planck Gesellschaft

Research group: Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions and Experimentation

Mission | Focus Areas | News | Team | Projects | Experiments | Tools | Data | Publications


The Biosphere-Atmosphere Experimentation and Interactions Group (BAIE) aims at improving the understanding of the interactions and feedbacks between climate, environmental changes, nutrient availability and the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. To this end we combine tools and approaches from biometeorology and biogeochemistry such as eddy covariance flux observation, field manipulation experiments, soil and plant analysis, and proximal/remote sensing techniques. With a global focus, the group investigates the biosphere-atmosphere interactions by contributing to and analyzing globally distributed datasets (e.g. FLUXNET database, remote sensing products) using data-mining and model-data integration techniques. Exploiting this generalized information, our final goal is to enhance the description of the response of biosphere’s element cycling to climate variability in state-of-the-art global terrestrial biosphere models and up-scaling approaches.

Illustration by Sinikka: First row from left to right: David, Richard, Tarek, Javier, Thomas, Mirco, and Tiana Last row from left to right: Yunpeng, Ulisse, Wantong, and Sinikka. Daniel, Qian, and Ladislav not yet in

Focus Areas

Focus #1: Climatic and environmental controls on ecosystem-atmosphere energy and mass exchanges:

  • Eddy covariance measurements of mass-energy exchanges between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere;
  • Characterization and partitioning of water fluxes;
  • Impacts of nutrient availability on carbon and water fluxes;
  • Contribution to and analysis of large dataset (e.g. FLUXNET database);

Focus #2: Phenology and Ecosystem Processes

  • Interactions and feedback between climate and land surface phenology;
  • Understanding the relationship between phenology and water cycles;
  • Development of tools for the measurements of land surface phenology;

Focus #3: Remote Sensing of Ecosystem Function

  • Understanding the information about photosynthesis, ecosystem functioning and stress encoded into hyperspectral remote sensing observations and sun induced fluorescence (SIF);
  • Evaluating factors affecting hyperspectral and SIF signals at different temporal scales;
  • Evaluating drivers of the photosynthesis-SIF relationship in climate manipulation experiments;

News, Research highlights, on the road, in the field

October 2021

We have another member during the next year! Philipp Morgen started last week and will help us during the next year in the field and the laboratory. Welcome Philipp!

September 2021

Mirco Migliavacca and colleagues (including BGC and BAIE) just published the paper: The three major axes of terrestrial ecosystem function in Nature. A great contribution to ecosystem research on a global scale. Congratulation!

New paper out from the work of Javier Pacheco and our visiting Scientist Khelvi Biriukova (and many other collaborators and members of BGI)! Find more about their work on Performance of Singular Spectrum Analysis in Separating Seasonal and Fast Physiological Dynamics of Solar-Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence and PRI Optical Signals in JGR Biogeosciences.

Sinikka Paulus was awarded for her contribution on "Sub-daily condensation dynamics and their role for water and energy budgets in a dryland ecosystem" at the 19th International Swiss Climate School from the Center for Climate Systems Modeling (ETH). Congratulations!

Happy scientist with her shiny certificate.

>> news archive


Phone: +49.3641.57 - extension | E-mail: e-mail -

Name Position E-mail Phone Room
Tarek El-Madany Group Leader telmad ...6231 C2.010
Ulisse Gomarasca PhD student ugomar ...6237 C3.011
Tiana Hammer Technical Assistant thammer ...6264 C1.010
David Martini PhD student dmartini ... C2.020
Philipp Morgen Intern pmorgen ... C2.020
Richard Nair Post-Doc* rnair ...6220 C1.016
Javier Pacheco-Labrador Post-Doc jpacheco ...6280 C3.002a
Sinikka Paulus PhD student* spaulus ...6232 C1.008
Qian Zhang Visiting PostDoc qzhang ... C1.011

Group members marked with * are shared with other research groups of the department.

Former team members, collaborators and guests

Mirco Migliavacca Former group leader Now at Joint Research Centre in Ispra (
Ladislav Sigut Visiting Post-Doc
Yunpeng Luo PhD student Now Post-Doc at ETH Zurich,Computational Ecosystem Science (
Wantong Li PhD student*
Kathrin Henkel Former Lab and Field Technician
Ekaterina Bogdanovich Internship Now PhD Student - BGC research group of Hydrology-Biosphere-Climate Interactions
Kendalynn Morris PhD student*
Xuanlong Ma PostDoc Now Youth Professor - Lanzhou University - Environmenral Remote Sensing Lab
Khelvi Biriukova Visiting PhD Student - University of Milan-Bicocca Now PhD Student - University of Milan-Bicocca
JinHong Guan Post-Doc Now Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources
Verena Bessenbacher Technician Now PhD Student ETH Zurich
Cristina Novara Visiting PhD Student
Anna Berninger Internship Now RSS Remote Sensing Solution GmbH
Oscar Perez-Priego Post-Doc Researcher Now Ian Wright Lab – Macquarie University, Australia

Ongoing Projects

MANIP - Large-Scale Manipulation Experiment
MANIP, a long term experimental project, aims at understanding responses in different eddy covariance sites from nutrient loading (primarily N and P) and water availability, on ecosystem-level carbon, water fluxes, and their interannual variability.

oBEF Across2: Observing effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning across time, space, and wavelength
The project addresses this topic by exploring the potential of the Sentinels, EnMap, and ESA-Flex missions for revealing influence of Biodiversity on Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) across environmental gradients, and to assess their temporal “stability”. This project will generate and test new hypothesis, for instance regarding the post-disturbance BEF recovery. Key questions in the context of “biodiversity patterns” and “biodiversity functions” will profit and be broadened. The project is funded by the German Space Agency and the BMWi. The project is in collaboration with German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, UL (University of Leipzig), and UFZ (Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research).

Land Carbon Constellation Study
The main objective of the Land surface Carbon Constellation (LCC) project is to demonstrate the synergistic exploitation of satellite observations from active and passive microwave sensors together with optical data for an improved understanding of the terrestrial carbon and water cycles. This will be achieved by: 1) adapting a numerical land surface model for its application in a data assimilation framework, 2) acquisition and analysis of campaign data sets at Sodankylä (Finland) and Majadas de Tietar (Spain) supporting the development of the model and the data assimilation scheme on the local scale. The LCC Study starts in October 2020 and contributes to ESA’s Carbon Science Cluster, focussing on its land component

Finished Projects

FLEXSense - FLEX Sentinel Tandem Experiment
In the FLEXSense project we provide ground observations in the MANIP experimental sites to interpret airborne measurements of fluorescence collected with the HyPlant sensor in the context of the FLEX Sentinel Tandem Experiment. The prohject is funded by ESA.

TRuStEE: Training on Remote Sensing for Ecosystem modElling
A Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN-ETN) on remote sensing for ecosystem modelling.

Monitoring mass and energy fluxes in a manipulated Mediterranean tree-grass Dehesa (Mediterranean Savanna) ecosystem through the integration of ground and satellite data with airborne hyperspectral imagery

MoReDEHESHyReS - Modelling Responses of Dehesas with Hyperspectral Remote Sensing
MoReDEHESHyReS develops methodologies to exploit hyperspectral information from the Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP) mission in order to generate new products mapping new Essential Biodiversity Variables describing plant physiology and vegetation traits and structure.

Mr.PARTS: Minirhizotron Phenology and Root Traits
Mr.PARTS aims to develop a new, remote-operated minirhizotron (a method for non-destructive and repeatable observation of soil systems), as well as new computer vision tools to ease interpretation of images. This will be used to investigate the drivers of root growth and phenology at high time resolution in both mesocosms and the field, linking root phenology with ecosystem carbon budgets.

oBEF Across: Observing effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning across time, space, and wavelength
The project addresses this topic by exploring the potential of the Sentinels, EnMap, and ESA-Flex missions for revealing influence of Biodiversity on Ecosystem Functioning (BEF) across environmental gradients, and to assess their temporal “stability”. This project will generate and test new hypothesis, for instance regarding the post-disturbance BEF recovery. Key questions in the context of “biodiversity patterns” and “biodiversity functions” will profit and be broadened. The project is funded by German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. This project is a collaborative effort among MPI-BGC (Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry), UL (University of Leipzig), and UFZ (Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research).


MANIP MAnipulation NItrogen and Phosphorous

SMANIE small-scale manipulation experiment

LTF long-term fate of N from fertilizer experiment


This is the collection of software and scripts developed by the BAIE group, many in collaboration with other Institutes, and made available for the community:


This is the collection of datasets collected or elaborated by BAIE group and made available for the community:

Full publication list

Follow link for the complete list of publications by the research group since July 2013.

Recent publications

MANIP Project

Ekaterina Bogdanovich, Perez-Priego, O., El-Madany T.S., Guderle, M., Pacheco-Labrador, J., Levick, S. R., Moreno, G., Carrara, A., Martín, M. P., Migliavacca, M. (2021). Using terrestrial laser scanning for characterizing tree structural parameters and their changes under different management in a Mediterranean open woodland. Forest Ecology and Management, 486: 118945. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2021.118945

El-Madany T.S., Carrara, A., Martín, M. P., Moreno, G., Kolle, O., Pacheco-Labrador, J., Weber, U., Wutzler, T., Reichstein, M., Migliavacca, M. (2020). Drought and heatwave impacts on semi-arid ecosystems' carbon fluxes along a precipitation gradient. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375(1810): 20190519. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0519.

Yunpeng Luo, El-Madany T.S., Ma, X., Nair, R. K. F., Jung, M., Weber, U., Filippa, G., Bucher, S. F., Moreno, G., Cremonese, E., Carrara, A., Gonzalez-Cascon, R., Escudero, Y. C., Galvagno, M., Pacheco-Labrador, J., Martín, M. P., Perez-Priego, O., Reichstein, M., Richardson, A. D., Menzel, A., Römermann, C., Migliavacca, M. (2020). Nutrients and water availability constrain the seasonality of vegetation activity in a Mediterranean ecosystem. Global Change Biology, 26(8), 4379-4400. doi:10.1111/gcb.15138.

Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions and FLUXNET synthesis

Migliavacca, M., Musavi, T., Mahecha, M. D., Nelson, J. A., Knauer, J., Baldocchi, D. D., ... & Reichstein, M. (2021). The three major axes of terrestrial ecosystem function. Nature, 1-5.

Knauer, J., El-Madany, T. S., Zaehle, S., Migliavacca, M. (2018). Bigleaf—An R package for the calculation of physical and physiological ecosystem properties from eddy covariance data. PLoS One, 13(8): e0201114. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0201114.

Wutzler, T., Lucas-Moffat, A., Migliavacca, M., Knauer, J., Sickel, K., Šigut, L., Menzer, O., Reichstein, M. (2018). Basic and extensible post-processing of eddy covariance flux data with REddyProc. Biogeosciences, 15, 5015–5030, 2018., 2018.

Phenology and Ecosystem Processes

Filippa, G., Cremonese, E., Migliavacca, M., Galvagno, G., Forkel, M., Wingate, L., Tomelleri, E., Morra di Cella, U., Richardson, A.D., Phenopix: A R package for image-based vegetation phenology, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, Volume 220, 15 April 2016, Pages 141-150, ISSN 0168-1923,

Forkel, M., Migliavacca, M., Thonicke, K., Reichstein, M., Schaphoff, S., Weber, U., Carvalhais, N. (2015). Codominant water control on global interannual variability and trends in land surface phenology and greenness. Global Change Biology, 21(9), 3414-3435. doi:10.1111/gcb.12950

Galvagno, M., Wohlfahrt, G., Cremonese, E., Rossini, M., Colombo, R., Filippa, G., Julitta, T., Manca, G., Siniscalco, C., di Cella, U Morra, and Migliavacca, M., Phenology and carbon dioxide source/sink strength of a subalpine grassland in response to an exceptionally short snow season (2013) Environmental Research Letters, 8 (2), 25008.

Ecosystem modelling and integration with remote/proximal sensing

Pacheco-Labrador, J., El-Madany, T. S., van der Tol, C., Martin, M. P., Gonzalez-Cascon, R., Perez-Priego, O., Guan, J., Moreno, G., Carrara, A., Reichstein, M., Migliavacca, M. (2021). senSCOPE: Modeling mixed canopies combining green and brown senesced leaves. Evaluation in a Mediterranean Grassland. Remote Sensing of Environment, 257(3): 112352. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2021.112352.

Martini, D., Pacheco-Labrador, J., Perez-Priego, O., van der Tol, C., El-Madany, T.S., Julitta, T., Rossini, M., Reichstein, M., Christiansen, R., Rascher, U., Moreno, G., Martín, M.P., Yang, P., Carrara, A., Guan, J., González-Cascón, R., Migliavacca, M. (2019) Nitrogen and Phosphorus Effect on Sun-Induced Fluorescence and Gross Primary Productivity in Mediterranean Grassland. Remote Sens. Remote Sensing. 11, 2562.

Pacheco-Labrador, J., Perez-Priego, O., El-Madany, T. S., Julitta, T., Rossini, M., Guan, J.-H., Moreno, G., Carvalhais, N., Martín, M. P., Gonzalez-Cascon, R., Kolle, O., Reichstein, M., van der Tol, C., Carrara, A., Martini, D., Hammer, T. W., Moossen, H., Migliavacca, M. (2019). Multiple-constraint inversion of SCOPE. Evaluating the potential of GPP and SIF for the retrieval of plant functional traits. Remote Sensing of Environment, 234: 111362. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2019.111362

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