The QUINCY terrestrial biosphere model with coupled carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles

The QUINCY model is a terrestrial biosphere model tracking the flows of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as a number of isotopes for a number of pre-defined terrestrial ecosystem types at a half-hourly time-step. It is currently developed to run for individual sites driven by surface meteorology, but its intention is to be further developed to be coupled to a land-surface scheme of a global climate model.


The QUINCY model is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 3, as published by the Free Software Foundation ( The use of the QUINCY model relies on the application of software developed by the MPI for Meteorology, which is subject to the MPI-M ICON software license (see ICON section: “By using ICON, the user accepts the individual license.”). Where software is supplied by third parties such as the MPI for Meteorology, it is indicated in the header of the file.

Access to the QUINCY code

The QUINCY model code is available from the QUINCY git repository (doi: 10.17871/quincy-model-2019), but its access is restricted to registered users. Distribution of the full code is dependent on the availability of a valid MPI-M-software license agreement. In the absence of a signed MPI-M-software license agreement, we can only share individual scientific subroutines of the QUINCY model that are GNU-GPL licensed.

Fair-use Policy for the QUINCY model

The QUINCY model is developed by a team of researchers, who encourage its collaborative use for research. The fair-use policy is designed as a win-win opportunity for both users and developers of the QUINCY environment. It warrants the continuation of ambitious model developments. The fair-use policy is designed to ensure that the individuals who develop the QUINCY model receive proper credit for their work, and to foster collaborative work with the model. The policy applies to the use of any present and future model version. If your work using the QUINCY model directly competes with ongoing research of the QUINCY team, we request to be given the opportunity to submit a manuscript before you submit one that uses the QUINCY model, or invite you to execute this work in a collaborative manner.

Recognition of intellectual contributions to the QUINCY model will be ensured by:

  • Offering co-authorship on any publication that benefits of recent developments improvements in the QUINCY model. We assume that an agreement on such matters will be reached before publishing and/or use of the model/data for publication. We deliberately refrain from specifying ‘recent’ as it should be a function of the intellectual contribution and the exposure this contribution already received. 
  • Discussing, early on, intended usage of the QUINCY model. This discussion should prevent uses and/or applications of the QUINCY model which are in conflict with the plans of the QUINCY team. When using the model code or output, please reference the source of the model and its scientific documentation as a citation. 

Use of follow-up recent versions

The QUINCY model is a continuously evolving research tool. Despite the efforts of documenting and validating release versions before their publication, new users are likely to require help to correctly use the QUINCY model and its run environment. It is therefore highly recommended to stay in active communication with the QUINCY team. Requests for support from unregistered users or non-academic users will not be considered.

We may need your expertise

The MPI for Biogeochemistry contributes to a better understanding of the interactions between human activities in the Earth System, environment and climate dynamics at different time scales. If you have a PhD in mathematics, physics, engineering, computer science, meteorology, or physiology, or you believe that your skills could contribute to the development of QUINCY model, feel free to send us your CV, a customized letter of motivation and names of people who are willing to act as references.


Thum, T.; Caldararu, S.; Engel, J.; Kern, M.; Pallandt, M.; Schnur, R.; Yu, L.; Zaehle, S.: A new model of the coupled carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles in the terrestrial biosphere (QUINCY v1.0; revision 1996). Geoscientific Model Development 12 (11), pp. 4781 - 4802 (2019)
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