Hydrology-Biosphere-Climate Interactions

Hydrology-Biosphere-Climate Interactions

Dr. René Orth

This group is 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. 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


René Orth
Independent Group Leader
  • +49 3641 57-6250
MPG Publications
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
Sungmin O
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
Albrecht Schall
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 57-6299
Xin Yu
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 - 578913
ITP B3.26
MPG Publications
Chunhui Zhan
Doctoral Researcher
  • +49 3641 - 578910
ITP B3.26
MPG Publications


Jasper Denissen
  • +49 3641 57-6224
MPG Publications
Xinyuan  Hou
MPG Publications
Carla May
Master Student
  • +49 3641 57-6266

Key Publications

Journal Article (26)

Journal Article
Wantong Li, Mirco Migliavacca, Matthias Forkel, Jasper M. C. Denissen, Markus Reichstein, Hui Yang, Gregory Duveiller, Ulrich Weber, and René Orth, "Widespread increasing vegetation sensitivity to soil moisture," Nature Communications 13, 3959 (2022).
Journal Article
Jasper M. C. Denissen, Adriaan J. Teuling, Andy J. Pitman, Sujan Koirala, Mirco Migliavacca, Wantong Li, Markus Reichstein, Alexander Winkler, Chunhui Zhan, and René Orth, "Widespread shift from ecosystem energy to water limitation with climate change," Nature Climate Change 12, 677-684 (2022).
Journal Article
Sungmin O, Ana Bastos, Markus Reichstein, Wantong Li, Jasper M. C. Denissen, Hanna Graefen, and René Orth, "The role of climate and vegetation in regulating drought-heat extremes," Journal of Climate (2022).
Journal Article
Philip James Ward, James Daniell, Melanie Duncan, Anna Dunne, Cédric Hananel, Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler, Annegien Tijssen, Silvia Torresan, Roxana Ciurean, Joel Gill, Jana Sillmann, Anaïs Couasnon, Elco Koks, Noemi Padrón-Fumero, Sharon Tatman, Marianne Tronstad Lund, Adewole Adesiyun, Jeroen Aerts, Alexander Alabaster, Bernard Butler, Carlos Campillo Torres, Andrea Critto, Raúl Hernández Martin, Marta Machado, Jaroslav Mysiak, René Orth, Irene Palomino, Eva-Cristina Petrescu, Markus Reichstein, Timothy Tiggeloven, Anne van Loon, Hung Vuong Pham, and Marleen de Ruiter, "Invited perspectives: A research agenda towards disaster risk management pathways in multi-(hazard-)risk assessment," Natural Hazards and Earth System Science 22 (4), 1487-1497 (2022).
Journal Article
Josephin Kroll, Jasper M. C. Denissen, Mirco Migliavacca, Wantong Li, Anke Hildebrandt, and René Orth, "Spatially varying relevance of hydrometeorological hazards for vegetation productivity extremes," Biogeosciences 19 (2), 477-489 (2022).
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Current Research

Recently Accepted Publications

Bastos, A., R. Orth, M. Reichstein, P. Ciais, N. Viovy, S. Zaehle, P. Anthoni, A. Arneth, P. Gentine, E. Joetzjer, S. Lienert, T. Loughran, P.C. McGuire, S. O, J. Pongratz, and S. Sitch
Vulnerability of European ecosystems to two compound dry and hot summers in 2018 and 2019
Earth Syst. Dynam., 12, 1015-1035, doi: 10.5194/esd-12-1015-2021


Kroll, J.*, J.M.C. Denissen*, M. Migliavacca, W. Li, A. Hildebrandt, and R. Orth
Spatially varying relevance of hydrometeorological hazards for vegetation productivity extremes
Biogeosciences, doi: 10.5194/bg-2021-206


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


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


Ward, P.J., J. Daniell, M. Duncan, A. Dunne, C. Hananel, S. Hochrainer-Stigler, A. Tijssen, S. Torresan, R. Ciurean, J. Gill, J. Sillmann, A. Couasnon, E. Koks, N. Padrón-Fumero, S. Tatman, M. Tronstad Lund, A. Adesiyun, J. Aerts, A. Alabaster, B. Butler, C. Campillo Torres, A. Critto, R. Hernández Martin, M. Machado, J. Mysiak, R. Orth, I. Palomino, E.-C. Petrescu, M. Reichstein, T. Tiggeloven, A. van Loon, H. Vuong Pham, and M. de Ruiter
Invited perspectives: A research agenda towards Disaster Risk Management pathways in multi-risk assessment
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi: 10.5194/nhess-2021-326


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?
  • What is the role of soil moisture versus large-scale circulation in shaping our summer weather extremes?
  • How important was the initial soil water content for recent floods in Germany and Europe?

If you are interested in a master thesis or an internship in our group, please just send an email with your CV to rene.orth@bgc-jena.mpg.de!

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