Max Planck Society
Max Planck Institut for Biogeochemistry

Former Department Biogeochemical Systems

Martin Heimann, Prof. Dr.
Former Director of the Department,
now Emeritus

Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 - 6350
Mobile: +49 151 120 359 46



Impact of biogeochemical cycles on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

Biogeochemical cycles are represented in the atmosphere by several important greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. We develop methods to measure these gases in situ and by remote sensing, expanding the measurement network to remote hot-spot regions such as Siberia and Amazonia, and developing and applying numerical models to quantify the large-scale sources and sinks of greenhouse gases.

Easy-to-understand fact sheet of the department (pdf)
10 years of the Kyoto Protocol (February 2015)

What is the role of the Eurasian Forests under a warming climate (Interview with M. Heimann by 'Latest Thinking', June 2016)

Interview with Martin Heimann during his research trip to Chersky, Siberia and meeting with Sergey Zimov in July 2016 (, the interview is in French)


  • Expansion of the atmospheric network of in situ measurements of high-accuracy biogeochemical trace species
  • Development of new measuring techniques and observation systems
  • Linking atmospheric point measurements with regional model grid averages
  • Development and application of atmospheric inverse modeling and data assimilation frameworks

Selected publications

Heimann, M. (2011). Atmospheric science: Enigma of the recent methane budget. Nature, 476(7359), 157-158.

Pillai, D., Gerbig, C., Kretschmer, R., Beck, V., Karstens, U., Neininger, B., Heimann, M. (2012). Comparing Lagrangian and Eulerian models for CO2 transport - a step towards Bayesian inverse modeling using WRF/STILT-VPRM. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 12, 8979-8991.

Francey, R. J., Trudinger, C. M., van der Schoot, M., Law, R. M., Krummel, P. B., Langenfelds, R. L., Steele, L. P., Allison, C. E., Stavert, A. R., Andres, R. J., Rödenbeck, C. (2013). Atmospheric verification of anthropogenic CO2 emission trends. Nature Climate Change, 3(2).

Rödenbeck, C., Keeling, R. F., Bakker, D. C. E., Metzl, N., Olsen, A., Sabine, C., Heimann, M. (2013). Global surface-ocean pCO2 and sea–air CO2 flux variability from an observation-driven ocean mixed-layer scheme. Ocean Science, 9(2), 193-216.

Vogel, F. R., Tiruchittampalam, B., Theloke, J., Kretschmer, R., Gerbig, C., Hammer, S., Levin, I. (2013). Can we evaluate a fine-grained emission model using high-resolution atmospheric transport modelling and regional fossil fuel CO2 observations? Tellus, Series B - Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 65: 18681.

Our ZOTTO Tower in Central Siberia Landscape of Cherskii, Northern Siberia, where we analyze methane fluxes (photo: Martin Heimann) Permafrost Soils in Cherskii, Northern Siberia (photo: Martin Heimann) Cape Verde Island Sao Vicente, our measurement Station at the seashore (photo: René Schwalbe) Namib Desert Atmospheric Observatory (NDAO) near Gobabeb, Namibia, with our newly installed measuring station (photo: Jost Lavric)
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