Max Planck Gesellschaft

Projects & initiatives

The BSI department forms part of various international research projects in the field of e.g. land-biosphere-atmosphere interactions, carbon and nutrient cycles, Earth System modelling, remote sensing and Earth Observation, experimental field and lab studies; ...

Short descriptions of funded projects and scientific initiatives we are involved in are available below.

Current projects

Acronym: 4C
Title: Climate-Carbon Interactions in the Current Century
Duration: 6/2019 - 5/2023
PI/Co-PIs: Sönke Zaehle
Project link:

Participating department members:

Acronym: ATTOplus
Title: Earth system and climate studies at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO)
Duration: 8/2021 - 7/2024
PI/Co-PIs: Susan Trumbore
Project link:

Participating department members:

Acronym: ESM2025
Title: Earth system models for the future
Duration: 6/2021 - 5/2025
PI/Co-PIs: Nuno Carvalhais, Sönke Zaehle
Project link:

Earth system models for the future is an ambitious European research project on Earth System modelling that will build a novel generation of Earth system models fitted to support the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies in line with the commitments of the Paris Agreement.

Participating department members: Nuno Carvalhais, Sönke Zaehle

Acronym: ICOS-ERIC
Title: Inverse modeling of GHG fluxes using the CarboScope regional inversion system
Duration: 4/2012 - 12/2025
PI/Co-PIs: Christoph Gerbig
Project link:

Participating department members: Christoph Gerbig, Thomas Koch

Acronym: ITMS-M
Title: Integrated Greenhouse Gas Monitoring System for Germany - Modelling, Phase 1 (Demonstration Phase) - CSR-Inversion
Duration: 12/2021 - 2/2026
PI/Co-PIs: Christoph Gerbig
Project link:

Developing an operational ITMS (Integrated Greenhouse Gas Monitoring System for Germany) requires the operational implementation of data flows, data assimilation and inversion systems, building on best possible model representations of all involved processes. In addition to the research and development in these fields, the ITMS focus is to reduce and characterize uncertainties/errors introduced in the full retrieval chain, including contributions from observational data, models and a-priori databases. Within the collaborative project ITMS-M Phase 1 we apply and further build-up a data assimilation system, which is the central element of the ITMS that links observations, prior information from flux models and inventories and atmospheric transport models to provide information on GHG fluxes. The development of the ITMS is embedded in the European Copernicus activities on CO2 monitoring. Despite research efforts on observational data, modelling and data assimilation to better quantify GHG fluxes, there are currently no sector-specific temporally and spatially explicit coherent data sets on sources and sinks of GHGs available for Germany.

Participating department members: Christoph Gerbig

Acronym: LCC
Title: Land Surface Carbon Constellation Study
Duration: 10/2020 - 3/2023
PI/Co-PIs: Sönke Zaehle, Tarek El-Madany
Project link:

Investigate the terrestrial biosphere’s net ecosystem exchange – photosynthetic CO2 uptake minus respiratory CO2 release – response to climatic drivers by means of combining a process-based model with a wide range of observations (in-situ and remotely sensed) on local and regional scale. In the project we are involved in the modelling part and in the field activity.

Participating department members: Sönke Zaehle, Tarek El-Madany

Title: Permafrost thaw and the changing arctic coast: science for socio-economic adaptation
Duration: 11/2017 - 10/2022
PI/Co-PIs: Mathias Göckede
Project link:

Participating department members: Mathias Göckede

Acronym: PAUL
Title: Pilot Application in Urban Landscapes - Towards integrated city observatories for greenhouse gases
Duration: 10/2021 - 9/2025
PI/Co-PIs: Armin Jordan, Christoph Gerbig
Project link:

Participating department members: Armin Jordan, Christoph Gerbig

Acronym: Q-ARCTIC
Title: Quantify disturbance impacts on feedbacks between Arctic permafrost and global climate
Duration: 10/2021 - 9/2027
PI/Co-PIs: Annett Bartsch, Victor Brovkin, Mathias Göckede, Martin Heimann
Project link:

Participating department members: Mathias Göckede, Martin Heimann

Acronym: RiGHGorous
Title: Research for an integrated GreenHouse Gas monitoring system and for its use at DWD
Duration: 1/2020 - 1/2023
PI/Co-PIs: Christoph Gerbig
Project link:

Participating department members: Christoph Gerbig


INCyTE brings together two communities that historically have not interacted closely: biogeochemical experimentalists and earth system modelers. The overarching goals of INCyTE are to enhance our understanding of nutrient cycling feedbacks on the global carbon (C) cycle in general, and to integrate different investigators, data, and experimental and conceptual frameworks to improve representation of nutrient interactions and constraints on the global terrestrial C cycle in Earth System Models.

For further info see here

Participating department members:
Sönke Zaehle

Following the studies of Le Quéré et al., 2009 and Sitch et al., 2008, a consortium of Dynamic Global Vegetation Model (DGVM) groups set up a project to investigate further the spatial trends in Net Biome Production (NBP) and agreed to perform a factorial set of DGVM simulations over the historical period, Sitch et al., BG, 2015.

As a community we decided to repeat this project every year since the first TRENDY-v1 in year 2010 in support of the Global Carbon Project’s (GCP) annual global carbon budget assessment (e.g. Friedlingstein et al., ESSD 2020), and its new regional initiative, the Regional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes project (RECCAP2), to which the latest round, TRENDY-v8 supports.

For further information regarding TRENDY, please contact Stephen Sitch (

Participating department members:
Sönke Zaehle

IAGOS (Integration of routine Aircraft measurements into a Global Observing System) is European research infrastructure, targeted at observations of atmospheric composition and aerosols. Our role is the deployment of high precision GHG measurement systems for routine airborne observations of CO2, CH4, CO, and H2O onboard commercial airliners.

Participating department members:
Christoph Gerbig

Completed projects

Acronym: ATTO
Title: Constraining the role of the Amazon in Global Greenhouse Gas Balance and Climate
Duration: 5/2017 - 6/2021
Project link:

Contact: Susan Trumbore, Jost Lavric, Christoph Gerbig

Acronym: CASPER
Title: Modelling the effect of silcon and calcium avaibility on the future sustainability of Arctic permafrost carbon pools on laboratory and field experiments
Duration: 12/2018 - 11/2021
Project link:

Contact: Mathias Göckede

Acronym: CHE
Title: CO2 Human Emissions
Duration: 10/2017 - 12/2020
Project link:

Contact: Julia Marshall, Martin Jung

The CO2 Human Emissions project is a European effort to develop a monitoring system for global anthropogenic CO2 emissions as opposed to variability in atmospheric CO2 concentrations that is caused by natural processes in order to enable well-informed decision making for greenhouse gas emission reductions, and to monitor policy effectiveness. It combines space-borne observations, ground-based measurements and Earth system models with national emission inventory data.

Acronym: ClimGrasHydro
Title: Ecohydrology of mountain grassland under global change: mechanisms and consequences
Duration: 5/2019 - 4/2022
Project link:

Contact: Sönke Zaehle

Title: Coordinated Research in Earth Systems and Climate: Experiments, Knowledge, Dissemination and Outreach
Duration: 11/2015 - 3/2021
Project link:

Contact: Sönke Zaehle

The CRESCENDO project aims to facilitate a coordinated European contribution to the CMIP6 experiment where the climate change community compares different international climate models to improve our knowledge of the Earth’s climate processes and provide the best possible future climate projections to governments and decision-makers Earth system models are increasingly the primary tools used for estimating the full Earth system response to future emissions of greenhouse gases. Hence it is crucial these models are continually improved in order that more reliable future climate projections can be made.

Acronym: INTAROS
Title: Integrated Arctic Observation System
Duration: 12/2016 - 11/2021
Project link:

Contact: Mathias Goeckede

Acronym: METHANE+
Title: Combining SWIR and TIR CH4 satellite observations to assess sources and sinks on regional and global scale
Duration: 1/2020 - 1/2022
Project link:

Contact: Sönke Zaehle, Julia Marshall

Das Projekt kombiniert und verrechnet Methan-Messungen verschiedener Satelliten, um die Quellen und Senken von Methan auf regionaler sowie globaler Ebene besser differenzieren zu können.

Acronym: QUINCY
Title: Quantifying the effects of interacting nutrient cycles on terrestrial biosphere dynamics and their climate feedbacks
Duration: 9/2015 - 8/2021
Project link:

Contact: Sönke Zaehle

The objective of QUINCY is to clarify the role of the interacting terrestrial nitrogen and phosphorus cycles and their effects on terrestrial C allocation and residence times as well as terrestrial water fluxes

Acronym: S5P-FTIR-MPG
Title: TCCON-FTIR-Station Ascension Island
Duration: 11/2017 - 10/2020
Project link:

Contact: Dietrich Feist

Acronym: SPP 1685 Phase II
Title: Ein Modellansatz zur Kontrolle des Umsatzes organischer Substanz im Ökosystem durch Nährstoffverfügbarkeit
Duration: 2/2017 - 1/2020
Project link:

Contact: Marion Schrumpf, Sönke Zaehle

The objective of the priority Program 1685 is to investigate the relevance of the ecological paradigm of the ‘whole being more than the sum of its parts’ for P - nutrition of forest ecosystems. Therefore new concepts of ecosystem nutrition and new methods will be developed. We will investigate if there are any adaption mechanism of forest ecosystems to sites with poor P supply, which are not a result of the adaptation of single organisms but of ecological interactions, which enable coordinated nutrient (re-) mobilisation, uptake, usage and storage.

Acronym: VERIFY
Title: Observation-based system for monitoring and verification of greenhouse gases
Duration: 1/2018 - 12/2021
Project link:

Contact: Martin Jung, Christoph Gerbig

Activities in VERIFY are targeted towards developing a pre-operational system to quantify greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O) across the EU based on independent observations in support of inventories that rely only on statistical data. It integrates atmospheric measurements, improved emission inventories, ecosystem data, and satellite observations to estimate anthropogenic and natural GHG emissions and sinks, including their attribution to processes and sectors. The projects outputs help to deliver policy-relevant information to track progress of the EU mitigation efforts to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement on Climate.

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