Department Biogeochemical Signals

Department Biogeochemical Signals

Prof. Dr. Sönke Zaehle

Interactions between land eocsystems, atmosphere and the climate system.

The aim of the Biogeochemical Signals Department is to improve our understanding of the interactions between biogeochemical element cycles on land surface and the atmosphere on local, regional and global scales. In addition to the climate-relevant cycles of carbon and water, our research focuses on the essential  nutrients nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and their importance for plant growth, soil dynamics and feedbacks between biospheric processes and climate.

We utilise atmospheric greenhouse gas observations and transport modelling and remote sensing data to to understand regional variations in the terrestrial greenhouse gas balance and identify underlying biospheric signals. We combine knowledge about eco-physiological processes with observations and modelling of biogeochemical cycles at different spatial scales to understand the underlying drivers of these biospheric signals.

We develop complex models to simulate terrestrial biogeochemical element cycles and their dependence on vegetation and soil properties as well as local climate. Based on detailed knowledge of physiological principles of ecosystem processes, we seek to improve these models and adapt them better to capture biological processes at climate relevant scales. We test the improved models with different ecosystem and atmospheric observations. Our new findings also feed into global models of the Earth system to estimate the impact of increasing human influence on terrestrial ecosystems.


Latest Key Results

Lacroix, F.,  Zaehle, S.,  Caldararu, S.,  Schaller, J.,  Stimmler, P.,  Holl, D.,  Kutzbach, L., &  Göckede, M. (2022). Mismatch of N release from the permafrost and vegetative uptake opens pathways of increasing nitrous oxide emissions in the high Arctic. Global Change Biology,  00,  1– 18.

Selected Publications

Ma, J.; Remaud, M.; Peylin, P.; Patra, P. K.; Niwa, Y.; Rödenbeck, C.; Cartwright, M.; Harrison, J. J.; Chipperfield, M. P.; Pope, R. J. et al.; Wilson, C.; Belviso, S.; Montzka, S. A.; Vimont, I. J.; Moore, F. L.; Atlas, E. L.; Schwartz, E.; Krol, M. C.: Intercomparison of atmospheric carbonyl sulfide (TransCom-COS; Part Two): Evaluation of optimized fluxes using ground-based and aircraft observations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (accepted)
Basso, L. S.; Wilson, C.; Chipperfield, M. P.; Tejada, G.; Cassol, H. L. G.; Arai, E.; Williams, M.; Smallman, T. L.; Peters, W.; Naus, S. et al.; Miller, J. B.; Gloor, M.: Atmospheric CO2 inversion reveals the Amazon as a minor carbon source caused by fire emissions, with forest uptake offsetting about half of these emissions. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 23 (17), pp. 9685 - 9723 (2023)
Caldararu, S.; Rolo, V.; Stocker, B. D.; Gimeno, T. E.; Nair, R.: Ideas and perspectives: Beyond model evaluation – combining experiments and models to advance terrestrial ecosystem science. Biogeosciences 20 (17), pp. 3637 - 3649 (2023)
Birner, B.; Rödenbeck, C.; Dohner, J. L.; Schwartzman, A.; Keeling, R. F.: Surprising stability of recent global carbon cycling enables improved fossil fuel emission verification. Nature Climate Change 13, pp. 961 - 966 (2023)
Kou-Giesbrecht, S.; Arora, V.; Seiler, C.; Arneth, A.; Falk, S.; Jain, A.; Joos, F.; Kennedy, D.; Knauer, J.; Sitch, S. et al.; O'Sullivan, M.; Pan, N.; Sun, Q.; Tian, H.; Vuichard, N.; Zaehle, S.: Evaluating nitrogen cycling in terrestrial biosphere models: a disconnect between the carbon and nitrogen cycles. Earth System Dynamics 14 (4), pp. 767 - 795 (2023)


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