Research Group

Hydrology-Biosphere-Climate Interactions

Interested to work with us? Below you can find a list of Internship and thesis topics!

This group is co-funded by the German Research Foundation’s Emmy Noether program.



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. 2022 & Li et al. 2022
(2) improved management of extreme events such as droughts and heat waves
Key examples: O et al. 2022 & Orth et al. 2022
(3) more accurate weather forecasts and climate projections
Key examples: Orth et al. 2016 & O et al. 2020


René Orth
Independent Group Leader
  • +49 3641 57-6250
Ekaterina Bogdanovich
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-6262
MPG Publications
Kelley De Polt
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-6291
Anne Hoek van Dijke
Prajwal Khanal
Master Student
Wantong Li
Doctoral Researcher
MPG PublicationsResearchgate
Lam'barki Manal
Master Student
MPG Publications
Sinikka Jasmin Paulus
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-6232
MPG Publications
Melissa Ruiz-Vásquez
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-6214
MPG Publications
Marisa Sawall
Bachelor Student, Trainee
MPG Publications
Albrecht Schall
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-6299
Xin Yu
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-8913
ITP B3.26
MPG Publications
Chunhui Zhan
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-8910
ITP B3.26
MPG Publications

List of former group members


Key Publications

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 (2022)
Widespread shift from ecosystem energy to water limitation with climate change
Nature Climate Change, 12, 677–684, 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 (2022)
Widespread increasing vegetation sensitivity to soil moisture
Nature Communications, 3959, doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31667-9

O, S., A. Bastos, M. Reichstein, W. Li, J.M.C. Denissen, H. Graefen, and R. Orth (2022)
The role of climate and vegetation in regulating drought-heat extremes
J. Climate, 35(17), 5677–5685, doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-21-0675.1

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]

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., 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


Orth, R., S. O, J. Zscheischler, M.D. Mahecha, and M. Reichstein
Contrasting biophysical and social impacts of hydro-meteorological extremes
Env. Res. Lett., doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac4139

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, 19, 4315–4329, doi: 10.5194/bg-19-4315-2022

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
Earth Syst. Dynam., accepted

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, doi: 10.1111/gcb.16397


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


BSc/MSc thesis and internship topics

  • How is the water cycle, specifically the partitioning of precipitation into runoff and evapotranspiration, affected by climate change?
  • What are the weather conditions associated with strong Google search interest in pollen and allergy?
  • Comparing ecosystem impacts of different types of drought; low surface soil moisture vs. low deep soil moisture vs. low precipitation vs. high vapor pressure deficit.
  • How important are soil moisture and vegetation for weather forecast accuracy in recent heat waves?

We are happy to welcome students in our group! If you are interested please send an email with your CV to

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