Atmosphere-Biosphere Coupling, Climate and Causality (ABC3)

Atmosphere-Biosphere Coupling, Climate and Causality (ABC3)

Dr. Alexander J. Winkler


The Atmosphere-Biosphere Coupling, Climate and Causality research group focuses on identifying feedbacks and causal links in the exchange of carbon, water and energy fluxes between the terrestrial biosphere and atmosphere. In particular, we aim to understand how this coupled system changes under rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. We use models of varying complexity (conceptual models to fully coupled Earth system models) and combine our research with statistical analysis and modelling (machine learning to hybrid modelling) based on various Earth observation data streams.

Current key items of the ABC3 research group:

Methodological and Conceptual Approaches

  • Exploring the application of modern machine learning / deep learning methods in Earth system research with a focus on obtaining interpretability to improve process understanding
  • Developing hybrid-modelling approaches (i.e. theory-guided fusion of data-driven and mechanistic models) of land-atmosphere interactions

Overarching Research Objectives:

  • Disentangling the different effects of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration and other confounding factors in Earth observations and model simulations using causal inference
  • Understanding the causal drivers of phenological changes in in-situ and satellite observations and identify the biogeophysical and biogeochemical feedbacks to the climate system
  • Isolating and quantifying direct and indirect effects in the atmosphere-biosphere coupling in controlling anomalies in carbon fixation
  • Determining constraints of key entities in the carbon cycle climate system by linking multi-model ensemble simulations and observational data


Alexander Winkler
Project Leader
  • +49 3641 - 578923
MPG Publications
Reda El Ghawi
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-8906
Guohua Liu
  • +49 3641 57-8903
B3.30 (ITP)
Daniel Pabon Moreno
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-6243
MPG Publications
Annu Panwar
  • +49 3641 57-8921
ITP B3.22
MPG Publications
Christian Reimers
  • +49 3641 57-6212
Chunhui Zhan
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 - 578910
ITP B3.26
MPG Publications
Wenli Zhao
  • +49 2641 578924
B3.25 (ITP)


European Research Council (ERC) Synergy Grant USMILE
The awarded 2019 European Research Council (ERC) Synergy Grant USMILE aims to advance understanding and modeling of the Earth system with machine learning (ML), one of the important approaches of artificial intelligence (AI) more
NFDI Consortium for Earth System Sciences (NFDI4Earth)
NFDI4Earth addresses digital needs of Earth System Sciences. Earth System scientists cooperate in international and interdisciplinary networks with the overarching aim to understand the functioning and interactions within the Earth system and address the multiple challenges of global change. more


The DFG-funded PhenoFeedbacks project addresses the impacts and feedbacks of phenological changes in the climate system, addressing questions such as: How do changes in land surface phenology affect annual changes in biophysical properties such as land surface albedo, evapotranspiration, and total surface energy balance? What is the total radiative forcing biophysically caused by phenological changes? Does this compensate for the reduced radiative forcing due to increased CO2 uptake in the event of a longer growing season?
Special Project (ECMWF): OpenIFS Modeling of the Atmospheric Carbon Cycle

Special Project (ECMWF): OpenIFS Modeling of the Atmospheric Carbon Cycle

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