Max Planck Society
Max Planck Institut for Biogeochemistry

Biospheric Theory and Modelling Group

Our research deals with Earth system science, focussing on the role of the biosphere, land-atmosphere interactions, global climate change, and renewable energy.

Our approach focuses on energy conversions, which is motivated by the fundamental importance of the second law of thermodynamics, and on a systems perspective that jointly describes processes as well as their interaction with the conditions at the boundary of the system.

Our applications. We apply this approach to develop simple, physically-based models in combination with numerical model simulations and the analysis of observations to address a range of scientific topics.

>> More on our motivation and on our research topics

Energy conversions within the Earth system. Biotic activity and geochemical cycling is embedded in a sequence of energy conversions (solid arrows) that are constrained by thermodynamics and that evolve to their limits. Various feedbacks (dashed arrows) alter these limits, resulting in evolutionary dynamics at different time scales that govern the behavior of the whole Earth system.



Philipp Porada, Alexandra Tamm, Axel Kleidon, Ulrich Pöschl, and Bettina Weber (submitted) Global NO and HONO emissions of biological soil crusts estimated by a process-based non-vascular vegetation model, Biogeosciences.

Sonja Germer and Axel Kleidon (submitted), Did wind turbines in Germany generate electricity as would be expected from the prevailing wind conditions?, PLoS One.

Erwin Zehe, Ralf Loritz, Conrad Jackisch, Martijn Westhoff, Axel Kleidon, Theresa Blume, Sibylle Hassler, and Hubert H. Savenije (submitted) Energy states of soil water – a thermodynamic perspective on storage dynamics and the underlying controls , Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

Taraka Davies-Barnard, Paul Valdes, Ryan Pavlick, Axel Kleidon, Andy Ridgwell (submitted) Vegetation Biodiversity Hotspots over the Inter-glacial cycle.

Maik Renner, Claire Brenner, Kaniska Mallick, Hans-Dieter Wizemann, Luigi Conte, Ivonne Trebs, Jianhui Wei, Volker Wulfmeyer, Karsten Schulz, and Axel Kleidon (submitted) Understanding model biases in the diurnal cycle of evapotranspiration: a case study in Luxembourg, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

Axel Kleidon and Hubert H. G. Savenije (submitted) Minimum dissipation of potential energy by groundwater outflow results in a simple linear catchment reservoir, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

Axel Kleidon and Maik Renner (2018) Diurnal land surface energy balance partitioning estimated from the thermodynamic limit of a cold heat engine, Earth System Dynamics, 9, 1127-1140.

Recently published

1Kleidon, A., Renner, M. (2018). Diurnal land surface energy balance partitioning estimated from the thermodynamic limit of a cold heat engine. Earth System Dynamics, 9(3), 1127-1140. doi:10.5194/esd-9-1127-2018.
2Porada, P., Van Stan II, J. T., Kleidon, A. (2018). Significant contribution of non-vascular vegetation to global rainfall interception. Nature Geoscience, 11, 563-567. doi:10.1038/s41561-018-0176-7.
3Loritz, R., Gupta, H., Jackisch, C., Westhoff, M., Kleidon, A., Ehret, U., Zehe, E. (2018). On the dynamic nature of hydrological similarity. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22(7), 3663-3684. doi:10.5194/hess-22-3663-2018.
4Frank, A., Carroll-Nellenback, J., Alberti, M., Kleidon, A. (2018). The Anthropocene generalized: evolution of exo-civilizations and their planetary feedback. Astrobiology, 18(5), 503-518. doi:10.1089/ast.2017.1671.
5Wang, T., Sun, F., Ge, Q., Kleidon, A., Liu, W. (2018). The effect of elevation bias in interpolated air temperature datasets on surface warming in China during 1951-2015. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 123(4), 2141-2151. doi:10.1002/2017JD027510.

>> Full list of publications


Group leader:

Axel Kleidon, Leader of the biospheric theory and modelling group.


Maik Renner, DFG-CAOS research unit, project "Thermodynamics and soil-vegetation-atmosphere transfer processes".

PhD Students:

Annu Panwar, working on land-atmosphere interactions and evapotranspiration.

Master Students/Interns/Visitors:

  • Luigi Conte, working on thermodynamics and surface energy balance partitioning in Amazonia.
  • Muye Du, working on hydrologic variability in China (visiting from Fubao Sun's group at the Chinese Academy of Sciences).

>> More on our group


Dr. Axel Kleidon
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Hans-Knoell-Str. 10
07745 Jena
Ph: +49 (0)3641 57-6217
E-mail: axel.kleidon AT bgc-jena DOT mpg DOT de

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