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: 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
PI/Co-PIs: Mathias Göckede
Project link:

Participating department members: Mathias Göckede

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

Participating department members: Sönke Zaehle

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

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: INTAROS
Title: Integrated Arctic Observation System
Duration: 12/2016 - 11/2021
PI/Co-PIs: Mathias Goeckede
Project link:

Participating department members:

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

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
PI/Co-PIs: Sönke Zaehle, Julia Marshall
Project link:

The ESA Methane+ project aims at exploiting the SWIR and TIR CH4 observations from different satellites in order to better differentiate between sources and sinks of CH4 on the regional and global scale. For this we will use the CH4 observations of TROPOMI on Copernicus Sentinel-5p, IASI on MetOp-B, and CrIS on Suomi NPP in combination with atmospheric inversion models.

Participating department members: Julia Marshall

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: 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

Acronym: VERIFY
Title: Observation-based system for monitoring and verification of greenhouse gases
Duration: 1/2018 - 12/2021
PI/Co-PIs: Martin Jung, Christoph Gerbig
Project link:

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.

Participating department members: Martin Jung, Sophia Walther


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: ATTOplus
Title: Earth system and climate studies at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO)
Duration: 8/2021 - 7/2021
Project link:

Contact: Susan Trumbore, Iris Möbius

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.

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: 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.

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