Max Planck Society
Max Planck Institut for Biogeochemistry

Our Mission: Exploring the Earth System

Global biogeochemistry is fundamentally the study of Earth’s metabolism. It describes the transformations undergone by essential elements like water, carbon and nitrogen as they are transported and cycled among the ‘spheres’ of the Earth, i.e. the biosphere, atmosphere, geosphere and the overall climate system. This also includes the energetics involved in moving elements among different phases or molecular settings, and the key role played by biological organisms – including human activities - in these exchanges.

The overall scientific mission of our institute is to diagnose and trace ongoing changes in global biogeochemical cycles and to identify the key processes that govern global biogeochemical dynamics under current and past or future environmental conditions. Our main focus is on understanding the influence of terrestrial biota on global biogeochemical cycles, because the land’s role is among the largest uncertainties in global budgets of several of the major biogeochemical elements.

For detailed information, see our webpages of the Departments and Research Groups.

Read more about biogeochemical cycles
Read more about relevance and human impact
Find out more about the tools we use

In Cherskii in Northeastern Siberia we investigate permafrost thawing and methane emissions.(Photo: Martin Heimann) Desert rain in Tibet. The picture was taken during one of our expeditions to the Tibetan Plateau where we study the monsoonal activity over time. (Photo: Roman Witt) In the semiarid ecosystem of grasses and trees in Las Majadas, Spain we study the relationship and feedback between landsurface phenology and ecosystem processes. (Photo: István Héjja)
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