Max Planck Gesellschaft

Research group Hydrology-Biosphere-Climate Interactions

Mission | Team | Key Publications | Current Research | Masterarbeits- und Praktikums-Themen | Lecture

This group is funded by the German Research Foundation’s Emmy Noether program. Follow us on Twitter for regular updates!


The understanding of the exchange of water, energy and carbon between the land surface and the atmosphere is the keystone to many of the fundamental challenges facing humanity.

We strive to improve the physical understanding of the Hydrology-Biosphere-Climate system through land surface modelling in combination with the analysis of Earth observations at continental-to-global scale.

The group’s research focuses on the interface of soil, vegetation, and atmosphere. The exchange and feedback processes acting there can affect weather and climate, food production, water availability, and hence economy and society.
In particular, our research is directed to contribute to
(1) better understanding of land-atmosphere coupling
Key examples: Denissen et al. 2020 & Li et al. 2021
(2) improved management of extreme events such as droughts and heat waves
Key examples: Orth and Destouni 2018 & Orth et al. 2022
(3) more accurate weather forecasts and climate projections
Key examples: Orth et al. 2016 & O et al. 2020

Left to right: Xin Yu, Chunhui Zhan, Sungmin O, Rene Orth, Jasper Denissen, Melissa Ruiz-Vasquez, Albrecht Schall Josephin Kroll, Sinikka Paulus, Carla May, Wantong Li, Ekaterina Bogdanovich


Name Position E-mail ( Room
René Orth Group leader rorth C2.022
Anne Hoek van Dijke PostDoc annehvd C1.018
Ekaterina Bogdanovich PhD student emanakh C3.002b
Jasper Denissen PhD student jdenis C1.014
Kelley DePolt PhD student kdepolt C2.004
Wantong Li PhD student wantong C1.008
Sinikka Paulus PhD student* spaulus C1.008
Melissa Ruiz Vásquez PhD student mruiz C2.004
Albrecht Schall PhD student* aschall C3.007
Xin Yu PhD student* xyu C2.004
Chunhui Zhan PhD student* czhan ITP B3.26
Prajwal Khanal Master student pkhanal C1.024
Manal Lam'barki Master student mlambarki C3.009
Marisa Vivanco Sawall Bachelor student masawall ITP B3.25

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

List of former group members

Key Publications

Kroll, J.*, J.M.C. Denissen*, M. Migliavacca, W. Li, A. Hildebrandt, and R. Orth (2022)
Spatially varying relevance of hydrometeorological hazards for vegetation productivity extremes
Biogeosciences, 19, 477–489, doi: 10.5194/bg-19-477-2022

O, S. and R. Orth (2021)
Global soil moisture data derived through machine learning trained with in-situ measurements
Sci. Data, 8, 170, doi: 10.1038/s41597-021-00964-1 [Download Dataset]

Li, W., M. Migliavacca, M. Forkel, S. Walther, M. Reichstein, and R. Orth (2021)
Revisiting global vegetation controls using multi-layer soil moisture
Geophys. Res. Lett., 48(11), e2021GL092856, doi: 10.1029/2021GL092856

O, S., E. Dutra, and R. Orth (2020)
Robustness of process-based versus data-driven modelling in changing climatic conditions
J. Hydrometeorol., 21(9), 1929–1944, doi: 10.1175/JHM-D-20-0072.1

Orth, R., and G. Destouni (2018)
Drought reduces blue-water fluxes more strongly than green-water fluxes in Europe
Nature Communications, 9, 3602, doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06013-7

Orth, R., E. Dutra, and F. Pappenberger (2016)
Improving weather predictability by including land-surface model parameter uncertainty
Mon. Weather Rev., 144(4), 1551-1569, doi: 10.1175/MWR-D-15-0283.1

FULL LIST of Publications

Current Research


Denissen, J.M.C., A.J. Teuling, A.J. Pitman, S. Koirala, M. Migliavacca, W. Li, M. Reichstein, A.J. Winkler, C. Zhan, and R. Orth
Widespread shift from ecosystem energy to water limitation with climate change
Nature Climate Change, doi: 10.1038/s41558-022-01403-8

Li, W., M. Migliavacca, M. Forkel, J.M.C. Denissen, M. Reichstein, H. Yang, G. Duveiller, U. Weber, and R. Orth
Widespread increasing vegetation sensitivity to soil moisture
Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31667-9

O, S., A. Bastos, M. Reichstein, W. Li, J.M.C. Denissen, H. Graefen, and R. Orth
The role of climate and vegetation in regulating drought-heat extremes
J. Climate, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-21-0675.1

Zhan, C., R. Orth, M. Migliavacca, S. Zaehle, M. Reichstein, J. Engel, A. Rammig, and A.J. Winkler
Emergence of the physiological effects of elevated CO2 on land-atmosphere exchange of carbon and water
Global Change Biology, accepted


O, S., R. Orth, U. Weber, and S.K. Park
High-resolution European daily soil moisture derived with machine learning (2003-2020)
arXiv, doi: 10.48550/arXiv.2205.10753

Paulus, S., T.S. El-Madany, R. Orth, A. Hildebrandt, T. Wutzler, A. Carrara, G. Moreno, O. Perez-Priego, O. Kolle, M. Reichstein, and M. Migliavacca
Lysimeter based evaporation and condensation dynamics in a Mediterranean ecosystem
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi: 10.5194/hess-2021-519

Ruiz-Vásquez, M., S. O, A. Brenning, R.D. Koster, G. Balsamo, U. Weber, G. Arduini, A. Bastos, M. Reichstein, and R. Orth
Exploring the relationship between temperature forecast errors and Earth system variables
EGUsphere, doi: 10.5194/egusphere-2022-183

Yu, X., R. Orth, M. Reichstein, M. Bahn, A. Klosterhalfen, A. Knohl, F. Koebsch, M. Migliavacca, M. Mund, J.A. Nelson, B.D. Stocker, S. Walther, and A. Bastos
Contrasting drought legacy effects on gross primary productivity in a mixed versus pure beech forest
Biogeosciences Discuss., doi: 10.5194/bg-2022-99

Masterarbeits- und Praktikums-Themen
(Master-Thesis and Internship topics)

  • Wie verändert sich der Wasserkreislauf, speziell die Aufteilung von Niederschlag in Abfluss und Verdunstung, durch den Klimawandel?
    (How is the water cycle, specifically the partitioning of precipitation into runoff and evapotranspiration, affected by climate change?)
  • Wie sind die Wetterbedingungen wenn viel nach Pollen und Allergien gegoogelt wird?
    (What are the weather conditions associated with strong Google search interest in pollen and allergy?)
  • Was ist die Wichtigkeit von Bodenfeuchte im Vergleich zur atmosphärischen Zirkulation für unser(e) Sommerwetter(extreme)?
    (What is the role of soil moisture versus large-scale circulation in shaping our summer weather (extremes)?)
  • Wie wichtig war die anfängliche Bodenfeuchte für Überschwemmungen der letzten Jahre in Deutschland und Europa?
    (How important was the initial soil water content for recent floods in Germany and Europe?)

Bei Interesse an einer Masterarbeit oder einem Praktikum in unserer Gruppe bitte einfach eine email mit Lebenslauf an schicken!


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