Max Planck Society
Max Planck Institut for Biogeochemistry

Campus Workshop
June 9, 2011

The campus workshop is an annual event to foster interactions between scientists working in the different institutes at the Beutenberg Campus. This year’s workshop is organized together with the graduate school of our institute, the IMPRS for Global Biogeochemical Cycles.


Open House for pupils
April 14, 2011

Within the Beutenberg Campus campaign “Forsche Schüler” pupils are invited to join our scientists and tutors and to gather hands-on experience in science and research.


Noble Talks
April 4, 2011

Renowned Prof. Christian Haas, Munich, will present a public lecture on “Alzheimer: deciphering a deciduous disease”


Registration for the IMPRS for Global Biogeochemical Cycles is open!
May 20, 2011

Applications for PhD scholarships at the International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles will be accepted until July 15, 2011. About 20 available projects span a large range of topics and techniques, involving all spheres of the Earth's system.



Jena Environmental Day
May 28, 2011

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry will again join in the activities of the Jena Environmental Day at the Goethe Gallery on Saturday, May 28, 2011. The motto „Protecting forests – for humans and climate“ fits well in some of our main research topics dealing ...


Annual Meeting of Max Planck Earth System Scientists
June 20 - June 22, 2011

The Earth System Research Partnership (ESRP) combines the three Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry (Jena), for Chemistry (Mainz) and for Meteorology (Hamburg). This year’s meeting of scientists cooperating within the ESRP will take place from June 20 – 22, 2011 in Weimar.


Jena Science Night
November 25, 2011

For this year's 'Science Night', the MPI-BGC will again open it's doors for all interested guests. An overview of our research will be presented in various lectures, demonstrations and games. We are looking forward to many visitors and an exciting night. For more information visit the home page of 'Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften'.



Building an empirical model of global carbon flux
October 6, 2011

Using a machine learning analysis, M. Jung et al. developed a model that accurately estimated a number of ecosystem-atmosphere fluxes, including the amount of carbon used to fuel plant growth, the carbon produced by the ecosystem, and the latent and sensible energy transfer rates. The FLUXNET-based study, published in J. Geophys. Res., 116, G00J07, was picked as Editor's Highlight in the journal.



Permafrost research (PAGE21) closes gap in our understanding of the climate system
November 7, 2011

What happens when the vast amounts of carbon in Arctic soils are released to the atmosphere? This is the central question the new four-year EU project PAGE21, headed by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, intends to answer. To this end, field-researchers, operators of long term observatories and modellers from 18 partner institutions in the EU, including MPI-BGC, pool their expertise from various subjects. The scientists thus aim to deliver a valuable foundation for the United Nations 5th World Climate Report.



New call for applications to IMPRS
December 5 - January 7, 2012

Applications for PhD scholarships at the International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles (IMPRS-gBGC)are accepted until January 7, 2012. About 20 available projects span a large range of topics and techniques, involving all spheres of the Earth's system.



New Max Planck Research Group: C. Hallmann
January 20, 2012

Christian Hallmann is interested in the paleoenvironmental conditions that influenced the evolution of early life during the Precambrian. In particular, he studies paleoceanographic conditions during the late Archean and the Neoproterozoic by analyzing lipid biomarkers preserved in ancient sedimentary rocks. By joining MPI-BGC in January 2012, he helps to increase our activities in marine palaeo-biogeochemistry research. He will also have an experimental research group located at the MARUM in Bremen.


PhD workshop: Hydrologic Modelling
April 12 - April 13, 2012

Junior scientists on pre-doctoral levels interested in hydrologic modeling are invited to join the 10th workshop of our group AG HYDMOD, to be held at the MPI-BGC in Jena.



Martin Jung received Beutenberg Campus Science Award
April 26, 2012

For his eminent contribution to the analyses of global biogeochemical fluxes, Dr. Martin Jung received the Science Award 2011 as best junior scientist of the Beutenberg Campus institutes.


Press information: Fascination of Plants Day
May 16, 2012

On the occasion of the first worldwide Fascination of Plants Day, the Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry and for Chemical Ecology organize a joint press meeting on May 16 to inform about their plant related research topics.



Science Center MS Wissenschaft
May 30, 2012

The swimming science center MS Wissenschaft started its cruise on Mai 30th. Prof. Susan Trumbore represented the Max Planck Society in the press conference of the opening ceremony to be held in Berlin. The MPI-GC contributes a ZOTTO tower model to the science exhibition, together with our ESRP partners in Mainz and Hamburg.



Measurement equipment sent to Namibia
May 15, 2012

Today, our measurement equipment was sent for an 11.000 km journey to Gobabeb (Namibia), where our new station will start operating in summer this year. The container is equipped for high precision, continuous atmospheric measurements of greenhouse and other trace gases.


MPI-BGC hosts Green Talents
October 18, 2012

Young international scientists working on cutting-edge projects related to sustainable development were awarded "Green Talents", sponsored by BMBF. The winners are invited to visit selected institutions, including MPI-BGC, to learn about German research on sustainable development.



FTIR spectrometer on Ascension Island started operation
June 1, 2012

Upon shipping to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, the spectrometer was successfully launched to measure several greenhouse gases in the framework of the global TCCON network.


Project EMBRACE goes public
June 19, 2012

The project EMBRACE intends to improve the leading Earth System Models in order to allow more reliable projections of future global change processes. MPI-BGC is one of the 18 European partner institutions collaborating in this EU funded project.



Warming accelerates decomposition of decades-old carbon in forest soils, and subsequent release of CO2
June 12, 2012

Soils store more than twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. Upon microbial decomposition, carbon can be released again as CO2 into the atmosphere, but its residence time in the soils is largely unknown. In particular, the effect of warming on the decomposition of decade-old carbon, which makes up the majority of soil carbon stocks in temperate forest soils, is highly debated.

This question was addressed by an international study group, from the University of California, Irvine, CA, and Berkeley, CA, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA, and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, using two independent approaches: In forest Free Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiments in Wisconsin and in North Carolina, the local atmosphere was enriched with fossil-derived CO2 that has a markedly different 14C and 13C isotope signature from the background atmosphere. That way the carbon fixed since the start of CO2 enrichment (more than 10 years ago) could be distinguished easily from carbon fixed afterward. The second approach used the history of radiocarbon (14C) in the atmosphere, which has declined since large-scale atmospheric weapons testing ended in the early 1960s, resulting in measurable differences in the 14C content of carbon fixed from one year to the next.

“Using these approaches, we first confirmed that about two-thirds of carbon stored in each soil was more than a decade old, consistent with other temperate and tropical estimates”, says Francesca M. Hopkins, lead author of the study and PhD student at the University of California, Irvine, USA.

To study how temperature affected the age structure of decomposing carbon, top soils from the two field sites were incubated at increasing temperatures. In the decomposition-derived CO2 flux, the proportion of decade-old carbon, distinguished based on its isotopic signature, did not change with warming. “Surprisingly, this suggests that temperature sensitivity of decade-old carbon is the same as that of the younger carbon” says Prof. Susan Trumbore, Max Planck Director in Jena and head of the international study group.

Since decade-old soil carbon represent a major portion of soil carbon stocks, its temperature sensitivity ultimately controls the magnitude of feedback between soil carbon and climate warming. “Our finding that decade-old carbon is vulnerable to warming suggests the potential for release of soil carbon to the atmosphere as CO2 as temperatures warm, which in turn would lead to more warming”, Trumbore points out. [EF]

Original Publication:
Warming accelerates decomposition of decades-old carbon in forest soils
Francesca M. Hopkins, Margaret S. Torn, Susan E. Trumbore
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 2012
Epub ahead of print: pdf

IMPRS offers PhD fellowships - apply now!
June 27, 2012

The International Max Planck Research School for Biogeochemical Cycles offers PhD fellowships to outstanding students. Application deadline is August 5, 2012.



June 13 - June 0, 0



Two new Eddy-Covariance-Towers in the middle of Siberia
July 16, 2012

In proximity of the 304 m high ZOTTO tower members of MPI for Biogeochemistry built up two new towers to measure energy and trace gas fluxes between the land surface and the air layers at ground level via eddy covariance method.


German-Californian commitment for the Earth
July 9, 2012

Five Max Planck Institutes and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of San Diego cooperate to explore changes in the Earth system. - `It never rains in Southern California` is the title of a famous song by Albert Hammond. Whether even more regions in the world must face a future with less rain and how the Earth system will change, are central topics of a new research collaboration. On June 8th, 2012, five Max Planck Institutes, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) and the Department of Physics at the University of San Diego (UCSD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for long-term cooperation within the Earth system science.

Tony Haymet, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Meinrat O. Andreae, director of the Biogeochemistry Department at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, and Paul Yu, Associate Vice Chancellor for UCSD Research Initiatives participated in the official signing of the SPOCES cooperation agreement in San Diego. SPOCES stands for SIO / UCSD Max Planck Program for Observing the Changing Earth System.

“We are changing the world with increasing speed, so it is time to create synergies in research. We will therefore coordinate our research programs,” said Andreae, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry, for Chemistry, for Meteorology, for Dynamics and Self- Organization and for Marine Microbiology. Andreae is also spokesperson of the Earth System Research Partnership of the Max Planck Society.

“This signing formalizes the ongoing and future collaboration of Scripps and the Max Planck Institutes in Earth sciences,” said Lynn Russell. “The combined expertise of both institutions will provide a new path forward to understanding and addressing the complex multidisciplinary problems in climate science.” The atmospheric chemist at Scripps Oceanography was instrumental in bringing scientists from both institutions together to discuss and formalize this collaboration.

Susan Trumbore, director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, expects more exchanges among young researchers. “Training will be at the center of our collaboration. Already this fall, some students and lecturers from San Diego will be participating in a course in Germany,” said the geochemist.

“The rich experience of scientists at the SIO in observing atmosphere and ocean circulations, especially over the Pacific, greatly complements the emphasis on Earth System Modeling at our institute“, added Bjorn Stevens, director at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. “We anticipate that this program will provide access for researchers on both continents to some of the most advanced tools available, and the greatest breadth of expertise possible, for understanding our changing climate.”

The German-Californian research agreement SPOCES is based on a long-term cooperation between the institutions, for example in climate studies in the Indian Ocean, and covers the following topics among others:

• The long-term monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric observations of hot-spots of the global change, such as Siberia or the Amazon region.
• The investigation of processes and properties of aerosols and clouds
• The influence of the South Asian Monsoon on atmospheric chemistry and climate

The scientists will not only examine the atmosphere, but all areas of the earth including the oceans and the polar ice. Besides sharing scientific equipment, joint seminars and symposia will be offered, and scientists will be exchanged. Graduate students and postdoctoral scientists of the Max Planck Institutes can apply soon for a research stay in California. Contact persons are the program coordinators Russell and Andreae.

The activities of the SPOCES program will be financed by the participating organizations.


Gone with the wind – why the fast jet stream winds cannot contribute much renewable energy after all
November 30, 2011

Among the potential sources of renewable energy, regions of high wind speeds in the upper atmosphere – the jet streams – have recently gained considerable attention. But the assumption that high wind speeds correspond to high wind power has now been challenged by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. Taking into account that the high wind speeds of the jet streams result from the near absence of friction and not from a strong power source, Axel Kleidon and colleagues found that the maximum extractable energy from jet streams is approximately 200 times less than reported previously. Moreover, climate model simulations show that energy extraction by wind turbines from jet streams alters their flow, and this would profoundly impact the entire climate system of the planet.

Jet streams are regions of continuous wind speeds greater than 25 m/s that occur at altitudes of 7-16 km. Their high speeds seem to suggest an almost unlimited source of renewable energy that would only need airborne wind energy technology to utilize it. Claims that this potential energy source could “continuously power all civilization” sparked large investments into exploitation of this potential energy resource. However, just like any other wind and weather system on Earth, jet streams are ultimately caused by the fact that the equatorial regions are heated more strongly by the sun than are polar regions. This difference in heating results in large differences in temperature and air pressure between the equator and the poles, which are the driving forces that set the atmosphere into motion and create wind. It is this differential heating that sets the upper limit on how much wind can be generated and how much of this could potentially be used as a renewable energy resource.

It is well known in meteorology that the high wind speeds of jet streams result from the near absence of friction. In technical terms, this fact is referred to in meteorology as “geostrophic flow”. This flow is governed by an accelerating force caused by pressure differences in the upper atmosphere, and the so-called Coriolis force arising from the Earth’s rotation. Because the geostrophic flow takes place in the upper atmosphere, far removed from the influence of the surface and at low air density, the slow-down by friction plays a very minor role. Hence, it takes only very little power to accelerate and sustain jet streams. “It is this low energy generation rate that ultimately limits the potential use of jet streams as a renewable energy resource”, says Dr. Axel Kleidon, head of the independent Max Planck Research Group ‘Biospheric Theory and Modelling’. Using this approach based on atmospheric energetics, Kleidon’s group used climate model simulations to calculate the maximum rate at which wind energy can be extracted from the global atmosphere. Their estimate of a maximum of 7.5 TW (1 TW = 10^12 W, a measure for power and energy consumption) is 200-times less than previously reported and could potentially account for merely about half of the global human energy demand of 17 TW in 2010.

Max Planck researchers also estimated the climatic consequences that would arise if jet stream wind power would be used as a renewable energy resource. As any wind turbine must add some drag to the flow to extract the energy of the wind and convert it into electricity, the balance of forces of the jet stream must also change as soon as energy is extracted. If 7.5 TW were extracted from jet streams as a renewable energy source, this would alter the natural balance of forces that shape the jet streams to such an extent that the driving atmospheric pressure gradient between the equator and the poles is depleted. “Such a disruption of jet stream flow would slow down the entire climate system. The atmosphere would generate 40 times less wind energy than what we would gain from the wind turbines”, explains Lee Miller, first author of the study. “This results in drastic changes in temperature and weather”.

The Max Planck study was published in the scientific journal Earth System Dynamics on November 29th, 2011. This study illustrates that fast winds are not always strong and powerful. Seemingly environmen-tally-friendly renewable energy technologies need to be carefully evaluated in the context of how the whole Earth system works.


Global Interactions between Climate, Soil and Vegetation
August 6, 2012

Markus Reichstein has been appointed to the new director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. - The current debate on „global change“ focuses mainly on the greenhouse effect and the related warming of the atmosphere, and the potential for feed-backs between higher temperatures and the carbon cycle. But the Earth system is much more complex than these aspects alone. To understand Earth system dynamics in a more comprehensive way, additional interactions have to be examined and considered in depth. In particular those linking the carbon cycle with water and nutrient cycling and feed-back mechanisms between vegetation, soils and the atmosphere. For the last six years, Markus Reichstein and his independent Max Planck Research Group successfully dedicated their research to these topics.

After an international search for candidates Markus Reichstein was appointed Max-Planck director and department head on July 1, 2012. „I am looking forward to building up the Biogeochemical Model-Data Integration department, which will us allow to intensify the development and improvement of methods and models that help us understand and describe global interactions between climate, soil and vegetation.” Reichstein states.

One focus of the new department will be the empirical analysis and global modeling of interactions between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Reichstein and his team are already part of multiple international research projects on Earth system modeling and participate in large scale analysis of carbon cycling and trace gas monitoring of entire continents. One important accomplishment is the global FLUXNET data base, built up by Reichstein and colleagues from Italy and the USA: it contains data from more than 250 locations worldwide about observations of carbon dioxide and water exchange between defined ecosystems and the atmosphere. How do ecosystems respond to climate variations and weather extremes and how do they adapt? In which ways do the water and carbon cycles interact? Which regions of the world are currently the largest carbon sinks minimizing the greenhouse effect and will they remain sinks? These are some of the main questions to be tackled in the department.

“The soil plays a key role in the comprehension of these topics and the soil is not yet sufficiently studied.“ , Reichstein remarks. Even the total amount of carbon contained globally in soils is quantitatively not well determined. Soil functions and structures are coarsely represented in the current global models, and Reichstein refers to soil carbon „as the dark matter of the Earth system research“. An improved and holistic view of soils based on experiments that isolate processes and the integration in models will thus be emphasized. For example, within the QUASOM project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC), Reichstein’s group aims to describe the role of soil organisms in a heterogeneous vertically differentiated soil environment.

The research focus of the young director perfectly complements the scientific fields of the two other departments in the institute. The department Biogeochemical Processes, under the leadership of Susan Trumbore, investigates key processes and organisms within terrestrial ecosystems with an emphasis on soils and forest dynamics. The department Biogeochemical Systems led by Martin Heimann develops methods to measure trace gases in situ and uses remote sensing to investigate how regional variations are influenced by surface exchanges. „New insights in these areas can be incorporated in our global models. We can thus adapt the models and improve our understanding of the importance of certain soil processes or atmospheric changes.” Reichstein reports.

Markus Reichstein studied landscape ecology with minors in chemistry, botany, and computer science at the University of Muenster. He received his PhD at the University of Bayreuth and worked as a Marie-Curie fellowship-holder at the University Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy, with longer stays at Berkeley (University of California) und Missoula (University of Montana). In 2006 he started an independent Max Planck Research Group at the MPI for Biogeochemistry in Jena.


Conference on Climate Change Research in Jena
September 4, 2009

From September 13 to 19, 2009, more than 500 scientists from all over the world will meet in Jena for the 8th International Carbon Dioxide Conference to discuss the most recent results of climate change and carbon cycle research. This year, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry will organize the conference, which takes place every four years since 1981.

High precision measurements of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentra-tion were initiated at the Mauna Loa (Hawaii) and the south pole more than 50 years ago, documenting the steady rise of this green house gas in the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is considered to be the main cause for global change – the consequences of which can already be seen on the re-gional and global level.

Since then, the scientific interest in the analysis of the global carbon cycle and its human-induced changes has grown exponentially. Global research on the carbon cycle has been further intensified by the acknowledgment of carbon dioxide as main reason for the present and future warming of the Earth’s climate by the International Panel on Global Change, which in turn led to international initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions like the Kyoto protocol.

During the conference in Jena, researchers from a variety of disciplines will discuss recent and future changes in the atmospheric CO2 concentration and the role of fossil fuel emissions, the advances in the development of measurement techniques and climate models as well as regional studies and the understanding of the fundamental processes involved.

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry plays an important role in international climate change research – it deals for example with the analysis of feedback mechanisms between global biogeochemical cycles and the climate system. High precision measurement instruments are used to detect concentration changes of trace gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, oxygen and hydrogen in the atmosphere. The measurement results yield information concerning their release on the Earth’s surface, e.g. during combustion processes. Further analyses provide the basis to determine the global carbon balances for the terrestrial biosphere and the ocean. The enhancement of existing computer models via the integration of laboratory and field research results as well as past and present observational data aims at creating reliable climate simulations for the future.

Conference on Climate Change Research in Jena

15th WMO/IAEA Meeting of Experts on Carbon Dioxide, Other Green-house Gases, and Related Tracer Measurement Techniques
September 1, 2009

Vom 7. Bis 10 September 2009 treffen sich in Jena die Experten für die genauesten Messungen von CO2 und anderen Spurengasen in unserer Luft. Seit Mitte der 70er Jahre werden die Zusammenkünfte der Experten von der WMO (Welt-Meteorologie-Organisation, ein Zweig der UNO) sowie der Internationalen Atomenergieorganisation /IAEA an verschiedenen Orten durchgeführt.

Die letzten Treffen dieser Art fanden in Stockholm, Tokio, Toronto, Boulder und Helsinki statt. In diesem Jahr lädt das Max-Planck Institut für Biogeochemie (MPI-BGC) als eines der führenden analytischen und wissenschaftlichen Zentren auf dem Gebiet des globalen Kohlenstoffkreislaufs die Spezialisten nach Jena ein.

Erstmalig wurde das Expertentreffen 1975 von dem amerikanischen Klimawissenschaftler Dave Keeling organisiert. Dave Keeling richtete als erster kontinuierliche Meßstationen für CO2 am Mauna Loa auf Hawaii und am Südpol ein. Die bekannte Keeling Kurve ist eine Darstellung des CO2-Gehaltes unserer Atmosphäre seit 1958. Sie zeigt die jahreszeitlichen Schwankungen sowie den Anstieg des Treibhausgases CO2 in der Atmosphäre als Folge der Verbrennung von fossilem Kohlenstoff. Mittlerweile werden in einem weltweiten Beobachtungsmessnetz wissenschaftlich belastbare Langzeitmessungen klimawirksamer Gase durchführt.

In den Räumen des ehemaligen Volksbads wird über neue und verbesserte Experimente zur Messung dieser Spurengase berichtet. Neben Verfahren zur Optimierung der Messpräzision, werden Vergleiche von Satellitendaten mit Daten kontinuierlicher Messstationen vorgestellt und diskutiert. Die hohen Anforderungen an die Meßverfahren bedeuten, weit über die üblichen, von Geräteherstellern garantierten Genauigkeiten hinaus zu messen und hart an der Grenze des physikalisch möglichen zu arbeiten. So muß z.B. die Menge des Sauerstoffs in der Atmosphäre mit einer Genauigkeit von einem Millionstel Anteilen gemessen werden, um zu erfassen, wieviel Sauerstoff verschwindet, wenn Benzin, Biomasse oder Erdgas verbrannt werden (für jedes gebildete CO2 wird mindestens ein Molekül O2 aus der Atmosphäre entnommen). Solche Messungen erlauben Rückschlüsse auf den Kohlenstoffkreislauf, die mit der Messung der CO2 -Menge allein nicht zugänglich sind. In ähnlicher Weise muß das Verhältnis der natürlichen stabilen Kohlenstoffisotope 12C und 13C im CO2 mit einer Genauigkeit von zehn Millionstel erfaßt werden, und dies über Jahrzehnte. Diese Art Analytik ist sehr aufwendig, erfordert ein hohes Maß an Verständnis für jedes Detail der Probennahme und der entsprechenden analytischen Verfahren. Die Ergebnisse werden als ‚Futter’ für die immer aufwendigeren Klimamodelle benötigt, die, basierend auf einer Reihe realistischer Szenarios, eine Abschätzung der weiteren Entwicklung des Weltklimas gestatten. Die Resultate dieser Abschätzungen fließen u. a. in die Berichte des Weltklimarates (IPCC; „Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change“) ein. Der Stand der Forschung wird am Ende des Treffens zusammengefaßt, die Ziele für die weitere Entwicklung formuliert und als Empfehlungen der Expertengruppe verabschiedet.

Die Teilnehmerschaft des Expertentreffens setzt sich international zusammen mit Vertretern aller Kontinente darunter bedeutenden Wissenschaftlern aus den USA, Japan, Australien und vielen Europäischen Ländern.


Internationales von der Europäischen Kommission gefördertes Klimaforschungsprojekt in Jena
June 9, 2009

Das von der Europäischen Kommission im 7. Forschungsrahmenprogramm geförderte internationale Klimaforschungsprojekt CARBO-Extreme, koordiniert vom Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, wurde in Jena am 1. Juni 2009 gestartet. Ziel von CARBO-Extreme ist, das Wissen über das Verhalten des terrestrischen Kohlenstoffkreislaufes in Abhängigkeit von Klimavariabilität und Wetterextremen besser zu verstehen und dadurch bessere Vorhersagen über seine künftige Entwicklung zu ermöglichen. Die EU unterstützt dieses Vorhaben in den kommenden 4 Jahren mit 3,3 Mio Euro.

Der Klimawandel ist in den vergangenen Jahren auch unter Nicht-Wissenschaftlern ein allgemein bekanntes Thema geworden, und Wetter-Extreme sind allen Bewohnern Europas seit der Hitzewelle vom Sommer 2003 ebenfalls ein Begriff. „In welcher Weise sich jedoch Wetter-Extreme wie beispielsweise die Hitzewelle 2003 auf den Kohlenstoffhaushalt Europas auswirken, ist bislang nicht ausreichend geklärt, und wird daher in den derzeitigen Prognosemodellen nicht berücksichtigt“, erläutert der Projekt-Koordinator Dr. Markus Reichstein.
Das Projekt CARBO-Extreme, welches 25 Forschungseinrichtungen aus 11 verschiedenen Ländern der Europäischen Union, sowie der Schweiz vereinigt, will in den kommenden Jahren dazu beitragen, diese Wissenslücke zu schließen.
Zum Projektstart haben sich daher in der vergangenen Woche über 50 Wissenschaftler unterschiedlichster Fachdisziplinen aus Europa und den USA für drei Tage in Jena versammelt, um gemeinsam in den kommenden vier Jahren offene Fragen zu den mit dem Klimawandel einhergehenden Phänomenen Klimavariabilität und Wetterextreme in Hinblick auf den europäischen terrestrischen Kohlenstoffkreislauf klären. Die gewonnen Erkenntnisse sollen zu den EU Klima- und Bodenschutz-Strategien beitragen.


Die Zukunft in einem Zug
April 27, 2009

Max-Planck-Schüler-Kolleg "Abenteuer Forschung"

Wie werden wir in den nächsten Jahrzehnten leben? Wohin entwickeln sich Wissenschaft, Medizin und Technik? Welche neuen technologischen Entwicklungen beeinflussen unser Leben? Mit diesen und vielen interessanten Fragestellungen beschäftigt sich der Wissenschaftzug „Expedition Zukunft“. Die mobile Wissenschaftsausstellung mit interaktiven Exponaten, multimedialen Installationen, einem Mitmachlabor, Filmen und Bildern und vielen Hintergrundinformationen macht vom Sonntag, 3. bis Dienstag, 5. Mai in Jena Göschwitz Station.

Alle Wissenschaftsbegeisterten sind herzlich eingeladen, sich in zwölf modernen Eisenbahnwagons über globale Themen wie Klimawandel, Rohstoffe und Energie, medizinische Versorgung, Pflanzenzüchtung und technologische Trends zu informieren.

Zu besichtigen und zu betreten ist der Zug am Sonntag von 10 bis 19 Uhr und an den anderen beiden Tagen jeweils von 9 bis 18 Uhr. Der Eintritt ist kostenfrei.

Das Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie beteiligt sich mit einem Exponat zur Artenvielfalt in Wagon 9 „Energie und Umwelt“.

Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter der drei Jenaer Max-Planck-Institute - MPI für Biogeochemie, MPI für chemische Ökologie und MPI für Ökonomik - stehen an jedem Tag vor Ort für Fragen zur Verfügung. Der gemeinsame Stand ist Pass-Station für den Expeditionspass der Forschungsexpedition Deutschland (

"Expedition Zukunft" ist ein Projekt der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft und wird zum Wissenschaftsjahr 2009 gefördert durch das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung. Das Wissenschaftsjahr 2009 wird gemeinsam mit der Deutschen Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, der Robert-Bosch-Stiftung und dem Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft ausgerichtet. Die Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, die Helmholtz- Gemeinschaft deutscher Forschungszentren, die Leibniz-Gemeinschaft sowie die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft,zahlreiche Universitäten und Zugpartner unterstützen die Ausstellung und sind Leihgeber von Exponaten.

Die Expedition Zukunft vor Ort in Jena: Max-Planck-Schüler-Kolleg „Abenteuer Forschung“

Die beiden naturwissenschaftlich orientierten Max-Planck-Institute für Biogeochemie und chemische Ökologie laden gemeinsam am Dienstag, den 5. Mai um 10:00 Uhr in den Hörsaal des MPI für Biogeochemie zum Max-Planck-Schüler-Kolleg „Abenteuer Forschung“ ein. Schülerinnen und Schüler ab der 9. Klasse erhalten spannende Einblicke in die Forschung.

„Die Böden der Welt – mehr als nur der Dreck, auf dem wir stehen“ werden von Dr. Marion Schrumpf vorgestellt. Maria Heinrich präsentiert „Kolibris, Motten und Ameisen“ und fragt „Wer darf vom süßen Nektar naschen?“

Im Anschluss an die Veranstaltung werden die Schülerinnen und Schüler mit einem Shuttle-Bus zum Wissenschaftszug gebracht, wo sie an Führungen durch die 12 Ausstellungswagons teilnehmen können. Die Veranstaltung sowie der Bustransfer sind kostenfrei. Interessierte Schüler und Lehrer wenden sich bitte an:

Angela Overmeyer,, 03641 – 57 2110 oder
Susanne Hermsmeier,, 03641 – 57 68012


ESA - Global Biomass meeting
October 9 - October 11, 2012

Vegetation biomass is a crucial ecological variable for understanding the status, condition, and potential future changes to the climate system. The meeting is organized by European Space Agency, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena and MPI-BGC.



Belch of laughing gas could heat up our planet
July 21, 2012



Power paradox: Clean might not be green forever
January 30, 2012



Neue Professorin für Atmosphären-Modellierung
March 2, 2012



Back To The Roots
April 9, 2012



Faszination in Grün: Jena ist Zentrum der Pflanzenwissenschaft
May 19, 2012



UCI: Heating soil could worsen warming
June 11, 2012



Erderwärmung: Auch alter Boden-Kohlenstoff wird als Treibhausgas frei
June 20, 2012



Globale Wechselwirkungen zwischen Klima, Boden und Vegetation
August 6, 2012



Noble Talks: Evolution of the Cell
October 25, 2012

Noble Price winner Günter Blobel, from the Rockefeller University, New York, will give a public presentation (in German) in the Abbe center, starting 5 pm, on the evolution of cells.



Science Tour
November 26, 2012

22 selected international experts join the Science Tour "Understanding Biodiversity and Climate Change" to learn more about respective research institutions in Germany. The programme is organized by BMBF and DAAD.



Global carbon dioxide emissions reach new record high
December 3, 2012

New meta-analysis results indicate that 2-degree target is unlikely to be met. - The international Global Carbon Project consortium has announced that global carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere will reach a record high of 35.6 billion tons in 2012. The main reasons for the rise is the increase in carbon emissions caused by the combustion of fossil fuels. Scientists estimate that emissions from this source have increased by 2.6 percent compared to the previous year. The emissions thus exceed 1990 levels by almost 60 percent; 1990 is the base year for the Kyoto Protocol. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a new high in 2011 when levels reached 391 parts per million.

Based on a large number of carbon dioxide measurements and model calculations conducted by other scientists, the members of the Global Carbon Project have pinpointed the countries responsible for emitting the largest quantities of greenhouse gases in recent years. In 2011, China accounted for 28 percent of all global emissions, making it the largest emitter in the world. China was followed by the USA (16 percent), the European Union (11 percent) and India (7 percent). In 2011, emissions by China and India increased by 9.9 percent and 7.5 percent respectively. In contrast, the USA reduced its CO2 emissions by 1.8 percent and the European Union even managed a reduction of 2.8 percent. According to this study, Germany’s emissions have fallen by an average of 1 percent per year since 2000. However, on a global scale, a total of 35.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide – representing a new all-time high – have entered the atmosphere this year.

The CO2 emission rates used by the Global Carbon Project are based, for the most part, on extrapolations from the quantities of fossil fuels used in the individual countries to produce energy. In global terms, the rates have increased by at least 2 percent per year since 1985. This brings the rates to the upper limit of any emission scenario ever projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “This increase in emission rates hampers the efforts of international climate meetings to limit human-made climate change,” says Sönke Zaehle from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, which contributed data to this study.

The further increase in emissions in 2012 reinforces the discrepancy between the actual emission rates and those required to keep global warming below the international target of 2°C. The increase in CO2 emissions means that a new record has also been set in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: carbon dioxide levels have now reached 391 parts per million. “If the current trend continues, we will be significantly beyond any scenarios that allow for climate change stabilisation in the 21st century,” says Prof. Martin Heimann, Director at the Jena-based Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, commenting on the results.

Some European countries were able to reduce their emissions by up to 5 percent due to a greater reliance on energy sources that produce low levels of CO2: “Similar changes in other countries could mean the beginning of a worldwide, low-cost mitigation strategy,” says Glen Peters, co-author of the study and researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway. According to the authors of the study, however, additional and stronger measures are imperative if the 2°C target is to be reached.

“The mitigation challenge to stay below two degrees” by G.P. Peters, R.M. Andrew, T. Boden, J.G. Canadell, P. Ciais, C. Le Quéré, G. Marland, M.R. Raupach, C. Wilson is published online by Nature Climate Change,
DOI:10.1038/nclimate1783. A pdf can be requested from

Full details of the methods and data used are presented for discussion in: “The Global Carbon Budget 1959–2011” by C. Le Quéré, R. J. Andres, T. Boden, T. Conway, R. A. Houghton, J. I. House, G. Marland, G. P. Peters, G. van der Werf, A. Ahlström, R. M. Andrew, L. Bopp, J. G. Canadell, P. Ciais, S. C. Doney, C. Enright, P. Friedlingstein, C. Huntingford, A. K. Jain, C. Jourdain, E. Kato, R. Keeling, K. Klein Goldewijk, S. Levis, P. Levy, M. Lomas, B. Poulter, M. Raupach, J. Schwinger, S. Sitch, B. D. Stocker, N. Viovy, S. Zaehle and N. Zeng, Earth System Science Data Discussions, 5, 1107–1157, doi:10.5194/essdd-5-1107-2012, (in review).
DOI: 10.5194/essdd-5-1107-2012. The paper and data are freely available.

Dr. Sönke Zaehle
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
P.O. Box 60 01 64, D-07701 Jena, Germany
phone: +
fax: +

Prof. Corinne le Quéré
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0)1603 592840 / +44 (0)789 0556096



Eigenschaften der Pflanzenwelt erfasst
June 30, 2011

Globales Verzeichnis von Pflanzeneigenschaften forciert Biodiversitäts- und Klimaforschung
Die weltgrößte Datenbank zu Pflanzeneigenschaften, TRY, wurde veröffentlicht. Als gemeinsames Projekt von über 100 internationalen Forschungsinstituten vereinigt TRY 93 einzelne Datenbanken. Damit sind wesentliche Eigenschaften von über 20% aller weltweit vorkommenden Pflanzenarten an einer Stelle zusammengefasst. Erste Auswertungen ergaben, dass die Pflanzen in ihren Eigenschaften variabler sind als bisher angenommen. Die stetig wachsende Datenbank, betrieben vom Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie in Jena, wird für alle Wissenschaftler der Biodiversitäts- und Erdsystemforschung bereitgestellt.

Pflanzen stehen als sogenannte Primärproduzenten an der untersten Stufe der Nahrungskette. Ihre Vielfalt (Diversität) hat einen wesentlichen Einfluss auf die Anzahl und die Vielfalt der nachfolgenden Mitglieder der Nahrungskette. Nimmt die Zahl der Pflanzenarten in einem biologischen Lebensraum (Ökosystem) ab, so vermindert sich zunächst auch die Vielfalt an Pflanzenfressern sowie später der nachfolgenden Alles- und Fleischfresser. Doch damit nicht genug: Auch die Wechselwirkungen mit der Umwelt, z.B. der Stoffaustausch mit dem Boden und der Atmosphäre, verändern sich bei Abnahme der pflanzlichen Biodiversität.

Durch Veränderungen der Landnutzung und durch den Klimawandel sterben auf unserem Planeten täglich Pflanzenarten aus, mit einer historisch nie dagewesenen Geschwindigkeit und bevor ihre ökologische Bedeutung erkannt wurde. Auch wie sich die Pflanzenvielfalt darüber hinaus auf das Umwelt- und Klimasystem der Erde und damit auf die Lebensbedingungen des Menschen genau auswirkt, ist derzeit nur ungenügend erforscht. Der größte Engpass war bisher die begrenzte Verfügbarkeit von Daten zu ökologischen und funktionellen Eigenschaften der Pflanzenarten.

Über 200 Wissenschaftler weltweit haben sich daher zusammengetan, um gemeinsam diese Wissenslücke zu füllen. Unter dem Dach von DIVERSITAS und IGBP, zwei Organisationen der UNESCO zur Biodiversitäts- und globalen Umweltforschung, wurde eine weltweite Datenbank funktioneller Pflanzenmerkmale (TRY) aus bisher 93 verschiedenen Datenbanken erstellt. Koordiniert durch Dr. Jens Kattge und Dr. Gerhard Bönisch vom Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie in Jena und Prof. Dr. Christian Wirth von der Universität Leipzig, enthält TRY derzeit über drei Millionen Einträge zu funktionellen Merkmalen von rund einem Fünftel (70.000) aller bekannten Pflanzenarten. Erfasst wurden Merkmale zu den Schlüsselprozessen Wachstum, Verbreitung, Etablierung und Stresstoleranz. „Nach etwa 4 Jahren intensiver Aufbauarbeit sind wir stolz, die erste Version der Datenbank präsentieren zu können“, freut sich Dr. Jens Kattge als führender Autor der in Global Change Biology publizierten Studie.

Eine erste Auswertung hat ergeben, dass die bisher üblichen funktionellen Klassifizierungen nicht ausreichen, um die große Variationsbreite der pflanzlichen Eigenschaften zu erklären. „Globale Klima- und Vegetationsmodelle unterscheiden etwa 10 funktionelle Pflanzentypen, wie Gräser, Sträucher oder Bäume, die jedoch die beobachteten Variationen der Pflanzeneigenschaften meist nicht erfassen können“, erklärt Prof. Dr. Christian Wirth. Die Variationsbreite wird stattdessen im Wesentlichen durch Artunterschiede verursacht. Die Artenvielfalt ist damit eine entscheidende Größe für funktionelle Vielseitigkeit und die Anpassungsfähigkeit der Ökosysteme an sich verändernde Umweltbedingungen.

Die TRY-Datenbank steht allen Pflanzen-, Umwelt- und Klimaforschern zur Verfügung und wird kontinuierlich mit Daten neuer Kooperationspartner erweitert. „Die Dimension der globalen Herausforderungen erfordert auch neue Dimensionen der wissenschaftlichen Herangehensweise, hinsichtlich der Größe der Netzwerke und der Intensität der Kooperationen“, bestätigt Prof. Sandra Díaz von der Universität Cordoba, Argentinien, als Co-Autorin der Studie das erfolgreiche Konzept der TRY-Initiative. Es steht zu erwarten, dass die globale TRY-Datenbank wesentliche Impulse gibt für die Erforschung der Biodiversität sowie die Verbesserung biologisch fundierter Klimamodelle.

- Jens Kattge, Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie,
- Christian Wirth, Universität Leipzig,
- Gerhard Bönisch, Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie,
- Sandra Díaz, Núcleo DiverSus, Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, 5000 Córdoba, Argentina,
- Sandra Lavorel, Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine (LECA), CNRS, 38041 Grenoble, France,
- Colin Prentice, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2109 Sydney, Australia,
- Paul Leadley, Laboratoire d'Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution (ESE), Université Paris-Sud, 91495 Paris, France, paul.leadley@u-psud

TRY – a global database of plant traits
Global Change Biology (2011), doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02451.x
(journal website:



open campus at MPI-BGC
March 1, 2013

The institutions located at the Beutenberg campus have a wide range of complementary skills and equipment within the research fields of Life science and Physics. For the purposes of interdisciplinary scientific exchange, it is important that the scientists keep updated regarding the methods and concepts available in the other institutions. To facilitate such exchange of information, two institutions at a time introduce themselves to the co-workers of the other Beutenberg institutions in the yearly open house event, named OPEN CAMPUS.



Bedeutung der Landoberfläche für den klima-relevanten Kohlenstoffkreislauf
March 22, 2011

Susan Trumbore, geschäftsführende Direktorin am Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie in Jena, erforscht Stoffkreisläufe und deren Rolle in der Klimaentwicklung. Beim renommierten „Sackler Colloquium“ der amerikanischen Nationalen Akademie der Wissenschaften referiert die Geowissenschaftlerin am 1. April 2011 über die frühere und zukünftige Rolle der Landoberfläche und seiner Ökosysteme im globalen Klimahaushalt.

Die Biogeochemie als interdisziplinäre Wissenschaft befasst sich mit den Stoffflüssen innerhalb und zwischen Ökosystemen. Kohlenstoff, Sauerstoff und Wasserstoff zählen zu den essentiellen Elementen, aus denen die lebende Materie aufgebaut ist. Wie diese Elemente zwischen der Atmosphäre, den Ozeanen und der Landoberfläche zirkulieren, wird am Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie (MPI-BGC) in Jena erforscht. Bereits seit 1997 widmen sich die Mitarbeiter des Instituts, die aus über 25 verschiedenen Nationen stammen, diesen Stoffkreisläufen mit großem internationalem Erfolg.

Seit September 2010 leitet Susan Trumbore, Professorin für Erdsystemforschung der University of California, Irvine (USA), das Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie als geschäftsführende Direktorin. Neben mehreren Auszeichnungen und dem Ehrendoktortitel der Hasselt Universität (Belgien) wurde Trumbore Ende 2010 zum Mitglied der amerikanischen Nationalen Akademie der Wissenschaften gewählt. Diese 1863 gegründete Ehrengesellschaft besteht aus weltweit führenden Wissenschaftlern verschiedener Disziplinen. Im Zusammenhang mit ihrer Ernennung spricht Susan Trumbore am 1. April 2011 in Washington (DC) als Gast des jährlichen „Sackler Colloquiums“ der Akademie über die frühere und zukünftige Rolle der Landoberfläche und seiner Ökosysteme im globalen Klimahaushalt. Im Hauptvortrag referiert Steven Chu, US-Minister für Energiefragen der Vereinigten Staaten, über die Herausforderungen des Klima- und Energiewandels.

Trumbore, Max-Planck-Direktorin seit 2009, erforscht in Jena mit ihrer Abteilung insbesondere den klima-relevanten Kohlenstoff-Kreislauf. „Wir konzentrieren uns momentan auf drei Bereiche, die bisher sehr ungenügend charakterisiert sind und besonders empfindlich auf klimatische Änderungen oder anthropogene Einflüsse reagieren“, so die gelernte Geologin.

In einem Bereich geht es um die Frage, ob Böden eine Quelle oder Senke für Kohlenstoff darstellen. „Wir wollen daher Schlüsselprozesse analysieren und den `Gesamtorganismus Boden´ in seiner Bedeutung für die Stoffkreisläufe besser charakterisieren“, erklärt Trumbore. Der zweite Bereich widmet sich dem Kohlenstoff, der als atmosphärisches Kohlendioxid (CO2) von den Pflanzen photosynthetisch aufgenommen und als Zucker gebunden wird. Trumbore untersucht die Verteilung dieser Kohlenstoff-haltigen Moleküle in der Pflanze, ihre verschiedenen Funktionen beim Wachstum, der Stressabwehr und der Energiespeicherung sowie die erneute Abgabe des Kohlenstoffs in die Atmosphäre durch Atmung, Blattfall und Pflanzensterben. Im dritten Bereich geht Trumbores Abteilung der Frage nach, ob und wie die Artenvielfalt den Kohlenstoffkreislauf beeinflussen kann: „Erste Ergebnisse zeigen, dass eine hohe Biodiversität mit einer geringeren Abgabe des klimaschädlichen CO2 einhergeht“.

Zur Beantwortung der komplexen Forschungsfragen werden neben den Labor-experimentellen Ansätzen geeignete Freilandversuche und –Messungen durchgeführt. Zu den Freiland-Stationen des Jenaer Instituts gehören unter anderem Messtürme in der sibirischen Tundra, auf den Kapverdischen Inseln, in Namibia und im brasilianischen Regenwald, im Fichtelgebirge und im thüringischen Naturpark Hainich sowie weitere Messstationen auf den Shetland Inseln und in Kanada. Die Daten aus lokalen Messungen werden am MPI-BGC mit Hilfe mathematischer Modellierungen mit überregionalen und globalen Datensätzen verglichen und die Erkenntnisse in globale und regionale Klimakonzepte integriert.


PhD positions for research on global biogeochemical cycles in the Earth system
January 17 - February 7, 2013

The International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles is currently offering a number of PhD projects to outstanding students interested in research on biogeochemical cycles in the Earth system. The school provides excellent research possibilities for students to obtain a PhD degree in a 3-years graduate program.

Current vacancies:

• Greenhouse gas measurements from commercial airliners: exploiting a new data stream

• Thermodynamics and the land surface system

• Resilience of the interaction between plants and soil microorganisms

• The lacustrine communities in extreme environments - PhD subject 1: Effect of increasing temperature on the distribution and isotopic composition of their cell membrane lipids

• The lacustrine communities in extreme environments - PhD subject 2: Effect of increasing temperature on the microbial community structure in lake aggregates and in lake sediments

Application deadline is on February 06, 2013.


PhD positions

Max-Planck-Direktor als Leitender Autor für den fünften Sachstandbericht des Weltklimarats benannt
July 5, 2010

Professor Martin Heimann, Geschäftsführender Direktor und Leiter der Abteilung Biogeochemische Systeme am Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, ist als Leitender Autor in der Arbeitsgruppe „Kohlenstoff und andere Biogeochemische Kreisläufe“ benannt worden.

Der Weltklimarat (IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) hat am 23. Juni 2010 in Genf die wissenschaftlichen Autoren und Gutachter für den fünften Sachstandberichtes (AR5) offiziell bekanntgegeben.
Für den neu zu erstellenden Bericht über den Zustand des Klimasystems und die Auswirkungen der klimatischen Veränderungen auf die menschliche Gesellschaft wurden aus 3000 nominierten Wissenschaftlern 831 Klima-Experten erwählt, die in den kommenden vier Jahren die Teilberichte, die zwischen 2013 und 2014 erscheinen, verfassen werden. Wichtigstes Kriterium für die Ernennung war die internationale Anerkennung als Sachverständiger im jeweiligen Fachgebiet.

13 Wissenschaftler internationaler Herkunft bilden das Autorenteam für das Kapitel „Kohlenstoff und andere Biogeochemische Kreisläufe“. Die Leitenden Autoren sind verantwortlich für das Verfassen der einzelnen Kapitelteile entsprechend ihrer Expertise. Dem Team sind zusätzlich zwei koordinierende Leitautoren und drei Editoren zur Seite gestellt, die den internationalen Begutachtungsprozess des Berichts begleiten und sicher stellen, dass auch kontroverse wissenschaftliche Befunde adäquat dargestellt werden. Neben den Beiträgen zu den Teilberichten, werden sich die Experten auch am zusammenfassenden Synthesebericht beteiligen, der ebenfalls in Jahre 2014 herauskommen soll.

Professor Heimann ist bereits seit 1994 für den Weltklimarat aktiv und hat unter anderem auch am vierten Sachstandsbericht von 2007 mitgewirkt, der mit dem Friedensnobelpreis ausgezeichnet wurde. Sein zentraler Forschungsschwerpunkt ist die Quantifizierung der biologischen und chemischen Umwälzprozesse im globalen Kohlenstoffkreislauf. Er befasst sich mit der dreidimensionalen Modellierung atmosphärischer Transportvorgänge sowie der Modellierung und Quantifizierung von Wechselwirkungen zwischen den globalen biogeochemischen Kreisläufen und dem physikalischen Klimasystem.

Role of Amazon forests in global carbon cycle
January 30, 2013

In a recent Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA article, Susan Trumbore coauthored the description of a new analytical method to quantify tree mortality patterns and trends. - Earth's forests perform a well-known service to the planet, absorbing a great deal of the carbon dioxide pollution emitted into the atmosphere from human activities. But when trees are killed by natural disturbances, such as fire, drought or wind, their decay also releases carbon back into the atmosphere, making it critical to quantify tree mortality in order to understand the role of forests in the global climate system. Tropical old-growth forests may play a large role in this absorption service, yet tree mortality patterns for these forests are not well understood.

For more information see also the news from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Biodiversitätsexploratorien – neue Plattform für die ökologische Forschung in Deutschland
November 29, 2006

Weltweit beobachten Biologen bereits seit Jahren, daß die natürliche Artenvielfalt zurückgeht. Einer der Hauptverursacher dafür ist der Mensch, der durch unterschiedlichste Formen der Landnutzung den Rückgang der Biodiversität beschleunigt. Dabei handelt es sich nicht nur um einen Verlust an Arten und Genen, vielmehr ist die Artenvielfalt auch von Bedeutung für zahlreiche biogeochemische Prozesse und die Stoffkreisläufe in den Ökosystemen, wie z.B. bei der Reinigung des Grundwassers im Boden oder beim Auf- und Abbau organischen Materials. Die Konsequenzen einer abnehmenden Vielfalt an Lebensgemeinschaften für die Ökosystemprozesse sind bislang nicht absehbar; ebensowenig ist geklärt, welchen Einfluss Bewirtschaftungsmaßnahmen und –intensitäten haben.

Um diese Fragen zu untersuchen werden nun in einem von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) finanzierten Großprojekt drei Biodiversitätsexploratorien eingerichtet – im Biosphärenreservat Schorfheide-Chorin (Brandenburg), im Biosphärengebiet Schwäbische Alb (Baden-Württemberg) und in und um den Nationalpark Hainich (Thüringen). Es handelt sich dabei um Modellgebiete von rund 100 Quadratkilometern Größe, in denen langfristig sowohl im Grasland als auch über Waldflächen das Wechselspiel zwischen Landnutzung durch den Menschen und den Ökosystemprozessen erforscht wird. An dem Projekt beteiligen sich deutschlandweit Ökologen aus fünf Forschungseinrichtungen: Wissenschaftler des Max-Planck-Instituts für Biogeochemie Jena sowie der Universitäten Jena, Potsdam, Würzburg und Ulm beginnen zunächst mit einer Generalinventur der Modellgebiete anhand von 1000 ausgewählten Punkten pro Exploratorium, Experimente zum Zusammenhang von Artenvielfalt, Landnutzung und Stoffkreisläufen sollen folgen. Umweltpreisträger Prof. Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Direktor am Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie, koordiniert gemeinsam mit seinem Kollegen Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Weisser von der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena die Arbeiten im Hainich. Die Exploratorien sind ab 2007 offen für weitere Projekte, für die sich Forscher aus Deutschland bei der DFG bewerben können.

Noble Talks: 2013 - Odyssee im Nanokosmos
March 21, 2013

Within the "noble talks" Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Helmut Dosch (Director, Deutschen Elektronensynchrotrons DESY, Hamburg) gives a public lecture about nanotechnologies in German languabge.



Neuer Schwerpunkt ökologischer Grundlagenforschung auf dem Beutenberg-Campus in Jena
May 21, 2003

Das Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie (MPI-BGC) feiert am Mittwoch, den 21. Mai 2003, ab 14 Uhr die offizielle Einweihung seines Institutsneubaus auf dem Beutenberg-Campus in Jena. Der Präsident der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Prof. Dr. Peter Gruss, und der Geschäftsführende Direktor des Instituts, Prof. Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze, können zahlreiche Gäste aus dem In- und Ausland begrüßen. Dazu gehören die Thüringer Ministerin für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst, Prof. Dagmar Schipanski, der Parlamentarische Staatssekretär aus dem Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, Christoph Matschie, der Bürgermeister der Stadt Jena, Christoph Schwind, sowie der Rektor der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Prof. Dr. Karl-Ulrich Meyn. Den Festvortrag mit dem Thema "Erdsystemanalyse und Ko-Evolution" hält Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, Direktor des Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research der University of East Anglia, England, und Mitglied des wissenschaftlichen Beirats des Institutes.

Merkmale dieser Pressemitteilung
Biologie, Chemie, Geowissenschaften, Informationstechnik, Meer / Klima, Tier- / Agrar- /Forstwissenschaften, Umwelt / Ökologie überregional


Der Norden wird grüner - durch Klimaveränderungen
June 10, 2002

Globale Temperaturerhöhung führt zu grüneren Wäldern im Norden / Frühling setzt eine Woche früher ein als vor 20 Jahren

Satellitendaten der letzten zwanzig Jahre haben gezeigt, dass der Norden der Erde immer grüner wird. Wissenschaftler vom Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie (MPI-BGC) in Jena, vom Potsdamer Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK) in Potsdam, der Lund Universität in Schweden und dem Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l Environnement (LSCE) in Paris/Frankreich haben jetzt mit einem neuen globalen Ökosystem-Modell gezeigt, dass diese verstärkte Aktivität in der Vegetation tatsächlich durch die Klimaerwärmung erzeugt wurde (Science, 31. Mai 2002).

Merkmale dieser Pressemitteilung:
Biologie, Geowissenschaften, Gesellschaft, Informationstechnik, Meer / Klima, Tier- / Agrar- / Forstwissenschaften, Umwelt / Ökologie überregional


Atmospheric verification of anthropogenic CO2 emission trends
February 11, 2013

In a recent article in Nature Climate Change, co-authored by C. Rödenbeck at MPI-BGC, global atmospheric CO2 emissions are described using improved data sets and calculations. The authors discuss their result of persistent slowing from 2002/03 in mean atmospheric CO2 growth observed in the largest well-mixed volume of the global troposphere.


Treibhausgase: Angaben zum CO2-Ausstoß oft unzuverlässig
February 11, 2013


Angaben zum Ausstoß von Kohlendioxid unzuverlässig
February 11, 2013


Unzuverlässie Angaben zum CO2-Ausstoß
February 11, 2013


Symposium Functional Biogeography
May 30, 2013

Symposium in honor of the newly appointed Max Planck Fellow Christian Wirth and the concomitant launch of the research group 'Functional Biogeography'.

Start: 4 pm, Lecture Hall


The tower of Gobabeb
February 19, 2013

Scientists from the Jena-based Max Planck Institute establish an outpost of climate research in the Namibian desert - High-precision monitoring stations provide basic data on climate change. Before conclusions on global cycles can be drawn, a global network is needed. A new facility has now closed an important gap.

For addditional information see the Max-Planck homepage (link)


The 5th IPCC assessment report: projections and climate goals
November 7, 2013

Presentation in German languge within the 'Noble Talks`' series of the Beutenberg Campus:

On September 27th the 5th assesssment report (AR5) of the PCC Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis will be published. Key messages will be presented in a public lecture by Prof. Thomas Stocker, co-chair of working group 1 of the IPCC.

Thomas Stocker
Klima- und Umweltphysik, Physikalisches Institut, Universität Bern, Schweiz
Co-Chair of the 5th IPCC report
Lead Author, Working Group I: The Scientific Basis

Lecture hall Abbe-Zentrum, 5:00 pm


Heat waves, ice-storms, droughts and hurricanes –their impact on the carbon cycle
March 28, 2013

How do climate extremes affect the carbon cycle of land ecosystems? How do the resulting carbon cycle changes in turn affect the climate? These questions will be discussed during the international “Open Science Conference on Climate Extremes and Biogeochemical Cycles in the Terrestrial Biosphere: impacts and feedbacks across scales” in Seefeld, Austria, from 2nd to 5th April 2013, hosted by the University of Innsbruck. More than 150 scientists from over 20 different countries will meet to discuss the responses of ecosystems to climate variability and weather extremes, based on experimental evidence and modeling of the biosphere-climate system.

Rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations not only lead to global warming but also to increased climate variability and extreme weather situations. Within the past decade an exceptionally high number of extreme heat waves occurred around the globe: Record breaking temperatures hit central Western Europe in 2003, causing a large number of fatalities due to heat stress. In South-Eastern Europe dramatic wildfires ravaged in 2007, especially in Greece. Together with huge forest fires, an extraordinary heat wave with record temperatures led to a high and long-lasting air pollution in western Russia in 2010. The drought in 2011-2012 was reported to be one of the most severe ever recorded in the United States, with an economic loss of billions of dollars and heavy crop failures.

Not only severe droughts and heat waves but also extreme precipitation and windstorms can impact the structure, composition, and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. The importance of extreme climatic events for the carbon balance became clear after the 2003 heat wave in Central and Southern Europe. Triggered by this month-long anomaly, the ecosystems lost as much CO2 as they had absorbed from the atmosphere through the previous four years under normal weather conditions. Recent evidence also suggests that extreme weather may influence the carbon balance of our terrestrial biosphere such that it accelerates climate change. Co-organizers Dr. Michael Bahn, Associate Professor at University of Innsbruck, and Dr. Markus Reichstein, Max-Planck Director at the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, state unanimously: “Several lines of evidence indicate water-cycle extremes, in particular droughts, being a dominant risk for the carbon cycle in large parts of Europe. The largest and most diverse and enduring effects of extreme events are expected in forests.”

The “Open Science Conference on Climate Extremes and Biogeochemical Cycles in the Terrestrial Biosphere” is a joint initiative of the EU supported FP7 research project CARBO-Extreme, the US-based network INTERFACE, and the international activity iLEAPS funded by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. CARBO-Extreme analyses the impact of climate extremes on the terrestrial carbon cycle. The University of Innsbruck is a partner in the CARBO-Extreme project which is coordinated by the German Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena.

Contacts and further information:; Dr. Markus Reichstein (

Foto: Soil after drought, Island of Milos, Greece, by Marcel van Oijen, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH-Edinburgh)


Press release for downloading

Retreat Jena Experiment
April 8 - April 10, 2013

The Jena Experiment is one of the longest biodiversity experiments in Europe studying diversity effects in European grassland communities for more than 10 years. This week the scientists meet at the institute to discuss their results and further planning.


GEOCARBON conference
October 1 - October 2, 2013

The GEOCARBON conference 'Towards a Global Carbon Observing System: Progresses and Challenges' is being held in Geneva, 1-2 October 2013.

The Conference is open to the global community working on carbon cycle monitoring, from scientists and data providers to potential users and stakeholders. The aim is to present recent results and achievements in observing and modeling C-cycle and GHG, at any level: research, monitoring, methodology, policy, infrastructure, etc. The final aim is to gather elements useful for the design of a global carbon cycle observing system and to produce a list of recommendations dedicated to policy makers and that should be distributed at the next GEO Ministerial Summit (January 2014).


The land biosphere amplifies anthropogenic climate change
May 3, 2013

In a recent article in Nature Climate Change, co-authored by Sönke Zaehle at MPI-BGC, emission of the important greenhouse gases CO2, CH4 and N2O by the land biosphere was addressed. Various processes in the terrestrial biosphere that are sensitive to climate and CO2 contribute to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thus creating multiple positive feedbacks. In the article, the land biosphere’s role as an amplifier of anthropogenic climate change was projected for future climate scenarios using process-based models.


Susan Trumbore appointed Honorary Professor at University Jena
May 6, 2013

In a ceremony open to the public, Max-Planck director Susan Trumbore had now been officially appointed Honorary Professor of the Friedrich-Schiller University (FSU), Jena, on Monday, May 6th, 2013. As a recent member of the Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences at FSU, Prof. Trumbore presented a review of her climate-related carbon research in her inauguration lecture entitled: “How long does carbon reside in terrestrial ecosystems?”

Susan Trumbore had moved from University of California, Irvine, to join the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in September 2009. As a new Max Planck director, she took over the department “Biogeochemical Processes” from retiring Prof. E.D. Schulze, the founding director of the institute. In 2009 she was honored with a Doctor Honoris Causa from Hasselt University, Belgium, followed in 2010 by the election as member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

While still holding a professorship in Irvine, CA, Susan Trumbore was also teaching at the FSU since her move to Jena. With her appointment as Honorary Professor, she is also honored for her engagement in several larger joint projects with FSU, including the highly successful international Max-Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Biogeochemical Cycles established in 2010.

ESRP meeting
May 22 - May 24, 2013

Annual meeting of the scientists from the institutes comprising the Earth System Partnership (ESRP), the Max Planck institutes for Biogeochemistry (Jena), for Chemistry (Mainz) and for Meteorology (Hamburg).

Venue: Mainz

Graham Farquhar received Queen's honour
June 10, 2013

Professor Graham Farquhar, a biophysiologist at the Australian National University (ANU), has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to science in the areas of plant physiology and climate change.

Graham Farquhar has been a member of our institute's scientific advisory board since 2005.


Antje Moffat receives Thesis Award
June 28, 2013

Antje Moffat, former PhD student and now scientist at the MPI for Biogeochemistry, is the winner of the Doctoral Thesis Award 2013 of the faculty Mathematics and Computer Science of the Friedrich Schiller University.
Mrs Moffat receives the prize for her outstanding doctoral thesis on a new methodology to interpret high resolution measurements of net carbon fluxes between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere.


Max Planck Research Prize for Markus Reichstein
July 5, 2013

The Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation honour the research of Christopher B. Field and Markus Reichstein into the influence of climate change on ecosystems by awarding the Max Planck Research Prize 2013.

Christopher Field is founding director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution and Professor at Stanford University, Markus Reichstein is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. The prize winners will receive 750,000 euros each to finance their research and, in particular, to fund cooperation with other scientists working in Germany and abroad.

The Max Planck Research Prize is one of Germany’s most generous science prizes. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and awarded annually by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society to one scientist working in Germany and one working in another country. The topic for submissions changes each year, alternating between various fields of science and engineering, the life sciences and the humanities.

Markus Reichstein and Christopher Field have been distinguished with the prize because they have significantly increased our knowledge of how life on Earth responds to climate change and what reactions can be anticipated between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Not only have they generated groundbreaking fundamental knowledge, their work also helps us to estimate the consequences of climate change for the people of the planet.

Markus Reichstein studies how carbon and water cycles jointly respond to climate

Reichstein’s research enables the determination of the global exchange of carbon dioxide and water between the atmosphere and terrestrial ecosystems, something that could never be done before. To facilitate his research he co-initiated the close integration of FLUXNET, a global network of measuring stations, thereby creating a data basis on the resource balance of very different ecosystems. Moreover, he and his group supplied the mathematical tools to merge this data with other Earth observation data and thus calculate how much carbon dioxide and water is exchanged between the biogeosphere and the atmosphere. Long-term observation thus enables scientists to determine the influence of climate variability and change on the carbon and water balance of the biogeosphere.
In this context, the question arises of how the productivity – the amount of organic material built up by plants during photosynthesis – and the greenhouse gas emissions of different terrestrial ecosystems change under extreme climate events. Markus Reichstein coordinates an extensive European Union research programme which is looking into this very question. Initial findings provide evidence that drought has a particularly powerful effect on the carbon balance of ecosystems worldwide because, faced with drought, photosynthesis responds more strongly than the respiration of organisms which ultimately breaks down the organic material into carbon dioxide and water.

How much carbon is stored in or released from soils

Soil is a key factor in the interplay between climate and biosphere. Based on field measurements and lab experiments, Markus Reichstein and his research group are developing models which allow them to predict how much carbon will be stored in or broken down and released from soils in the event of climate change.
Markus Reichstein has been heading the Department of Biogeochemical Integration at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena since 2012. Born in Kiel on 25 September 1972, he studied landscape ecology, botany, chemistry and computer science at the University of Münster and did his PhD at the University of Bayreuth in 2001. He worked in the University of Bayreuth’s Department of Plant Ecology until 2003. From 2003-2006 he took up various research residencies at the Universities of Tuscia (Italy), Montana (Missoula, USA) and California (Berkeley, USA) before leading a Max Planck Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry from 2006 to 2012.

Christopher Field studies how much biomass is built up as a result of photosynthesis

Christopher Field’s research also builds bridges between the kind of field trials, lab studies and global analysis that are so important in Reichstein’s work with the soil as a climate factor. Initially, Field used the California grasslands to examine how productivity is altered by climate change at the level of individual plants. In this context he also studied how strongly photosynthesis correlates with the quantity of light absorbed, enabling him to estimate how much biomass plants build up depending on how much light they absorb.
The findings from these studies served as the experimental basis for Chris Field to represent biogeochemical and ecological relationships in global models, which can also be used to determine the influence of climate change on the biosphere. As early as 1998 he published his first estimates on global net primary production: the biomass that is produced by plants and single-celled organisms which carry out photosynthesis and is not turned back into carbon dioxide and water in the course of cellular respiration. Even today, this work is still considered groundbreaking for all subsequent models that reflect and predict the Earth system’s reactions to global change.

Carbon sinks cushion the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide

Net primary production is significant not least because it enables the size of carbon sinks such as forests to be estimated. Carbon sinks are constantly removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Chris Field calculated the size of the carbon sinks in the USA, thereby solving the riddle of why the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere rises at a slower rate than the volume of greenhouse gases released around the world by burning fossil fuels.
In 2002, Christopher B. Field founded the Department of Global Ecology at Carnegie Institution and has headed it ever since. He is the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University, a post he took up in 2008, and since 2005 he has been Professor of Biology at Stanford University and Faculty Director of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. He studied biology at Harvard University and did his PhD in biology at Stanford University. Chris Field is co-chair of Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability) of the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) and was one of the coordinating lead authors of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and a member of the IPCC delegation, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.


press release

Official ground breaking ceremony for the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO)
August 18, 2014

Our colleagues from the MPI for Chemistry in Mainz are celebrating the official start of the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) located in the Amazon rainforest. The 325 m tall tower will be the counterpart of our 304 m ZOTTO tower located in central Siberia which we built in 2006.

Within the Earth System Research Partnership (ESRP) the MPI's from Mainz, Hamburg and Jena closely cooperate in studying Earth system processes. Scientists of our institute are part of the ATTO consortium and contributed to the tower equipment by planning and constructing the measurement system for carbon dioxide and methane.

Find out more about ATTO:


Ernst-Detlef Schulze erhält Ernst-Haeckel-Preis der European Ecological Federation
August 20, 2013


Viermal so viele Hitzewellen bis 2040
August 15, 2013


Hochdotierter Forschungspreis für Max-Planck-Wissenschaftler in Jena
July 5, 2013


Max-Planck-Forschungspreis für zwei Biogeochemiker
July 5, 2013


750.000-Euro-Preis für zwei Klimawandel-Experten
July 5, 2013


Max-Planck-Forschungspreis für zwei Biogeochemiker
July 5, 2013


"Matschie gratuliert Markus Reichenstein zum Max-Planck-Forschungspreis 2013 - Große Anerkennung für Thüringer Klimaforscher"
July 8, 2013


Max-Planck-Forschungspreis 2013 vergeben
July 8, 2013


Is extreme weather fuelling climate change?
August 15, 2013


Die nächsten Sommer werden heißer
August 15, 2013


Jenaer Wissenschaftler entdecken Turbo-Effekt beim Klimawandel
August 20, 2013


Forscher prognostizieren rasche Zunahme von Wetterextremen
August 16, 2013


Hitzewellen werden schwerer und häufiger
August 16, 2013


"Alle denken, sie lägen mit ihren Ergebnissen richtig."
August 21, 2013

Interview with director Martin Heimann to the work on the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (in German)


PhD-Conference: Earth System Science
March 12 - March 14, 2014

The conference will cover all major domains of Earth system science, including biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and pedosphere. It will give you the possibility to present and discuss your research with the next generation of Earth system scientists. We aim for diversity in both the methods you apply and the scales of your research. So we welcome contributions ranging from molecular analysis to computer simulations and from soil aggregates to global analyses. Meeting your peers in this interdisciplinary context will give you the opportunity to obtain constructive feedback for your work and provide you with new inspirations for your career development.

The social dimension of Earth system science and global change will be covered in a dedicated evening talk by Anders Levermann (PIK): "Excitement for the good of society: science between mitigation of and adaptation to future climate change."

The conference will provide ample room for further interaction and informal meetings between sessions and during the barbecue.

Venue: MPI for Biogeochemistry
Register by January 16 – we are looking forward to seeing you!


Mit "Klima-Engineering" gegen die Erderwärmung?
October 1, 2013


New IPCC assessment report: Improved models, more accurate statements
September 27, 2013

With the help of MPI-BGC authors, the first part of the fifth assessment report (AR5) on the world climate has been released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. Co-Author of the report and scientific contact at MPI-BGC is Max Planck director Prof. Martin Heimann.

The report of working group I provides a comprehensive assessment of the physical science basis of climate change. It was compiled by a total of 209 Lead Authors and 50 Review Editors from 39 countries and more than 600 Contributing Authors from 32 countries.

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.


Summary for Policymakers

Calibration of the World - Inaugural Lecture
November 4, 2013

On November 4, 2013 Prof. Gerd Gleixner will give his public inaugural lecture to join the Faculty of Chemical and Earth Sciences of the FSU Jena talking about "The Calibration of the world - climate research between Argentina and Tibet" (in German).

Start at 06:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the FSU main building.


Invitation to a "Romantic Science Night"
November 26, 2013

The well-known science historian and author Ernst Peter Fischer recalls the design of the first model of the atom by physicist Niels Bohr 100 years ago.

The talk will be in German in the seminar room of the MPI for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Str. 8 at 07:00 p.m.


Annual Meeting of Max Planck Earth System Scientists (ESRP)
May 21 - May 23, 2014

The Earth System Research Partnership (ESRP) combines the three Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry (Jena), for Chemistry (Mainz) and for Meteorology (Hamburg). This year’s meeting of scientists cooperating within the ESRP will take place from may 21 – 23, 2014 in Weimar.

More information will be posted soon.



Changing land use is good for biodiversity
December 24, 2013

A research study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, led by Profs Eric Allan and Markus Fischer at the University of Bern, shows that farmers can help protect grassland biodiversity by varying management intensity over time. This reduces some of the negative effects of intensive land use, particularly for rare species.

Globally, the intensification of agricultural land use is considered the leading threat to biodiversity. Previous studies on the impacts of land-use intensity on biodiversity have only looked at single or small groups of organisms. However, individual species can vary greatly in how they respond to different land uses, meaning that the overall impact on biodiversity is often not clear.

A team of 58 scientists from Germany and Switzerland, including Prof. Ernst-Detlef Schulze and Dr. Ingo Schöning of Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, assembled a uniquely large dataset on the biodiversity of up to 49 groups of organisms, including groups of bacteria, fungi, plants and animals. They used data from study sites that they had established in 150 grasslands in three regions of Germany, the Biodiversity Exploratories (, which varied from extensively managed and lightly grazed to intensively grazed or mown grasslands with high fertilizer input. The scientists used this data to compile a novel index of “multidiversity”, which measures total ecosystem biodiversity. The study showed that overall biodiversity declined very strongly with increasing land-use intensity and that this was particularly true for rarer species. Plants, grasshoppers and butterflies declined most strongly.

The study used a uniquely comprehensive dataset spanning many types of organisms and a novel measure of total ecosystem biodiversity. It was able to provide very strong evidence for the importance of extensively managed grasslands for nature conservation. According to Eric Allan "This new index provides a single measure of biodiversity for an ecosystem and should make it easier to assess the effects of conservation measures or restoration efforts on biodiversity".

Interestingly, the scientists also found biodiversity to be much higher in grasslands in which land-use intensity had varied over the last few years. Markus Fischer said that "This suggests that varying management intensity over time could be a novel strategy to maintain biodiversity in grasslands, for instance by altering the number of livestock or the frequency of mowing between years".

The rare species in the study benefited particularly from changing land use over time: at intermediate land-use intensity, the biodiversity of the rarer species was almost twice as high when land-use intensity varied between years, increasing from 18% to 31% of the maximum. "This result shows that farmers could do a lot for biodiversity conservation simply by varying the intensity of their land use between years, as long as the mean intensity of management does not get too high", said Eric Allan.


press release (in German language)

Sue Trumbore elected Editor-in-Chief of AGU journal
January 13, 2014

The Journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) is under new editorial leadership: Susan Trumbore (MPI-BGC) has been elected Editor-in-Chief and will succeed the former editor Eric Sundquist.

Fluctuations in the global carbon balance are increasing
February 19, 2014

The carbon balance of tropical rain forests shows higher sensitivity to short term temperature changes.


BMBF grants final setup of the ICOS central flask and calibration lab
February 27, 2014

The European ICOS (Integrated Carbon Observation System) research infrastructure aims at providing the long-term observations required to understand the present state and predict future behavior of the global carbon cycle and greenhouse gas emissions. The central flask and calibration lab, set up in Jena, Germany, will ensure the accuracy of observational data, thorough quality control and routine testing of air sampling material. Led by Dr. Armin Jordan, it will provide reference gases for calibration of in-situ measurements performed at the continuous monitoring stations.

The lab is now supported with 2 Mio € by the German Ministry for Research and Education (BMBF) for final establishment of its routine operations within the next two years, to become a core central unit of the European ICOS research infrastructure.


Autumn School on Data Assimilation in Biogeochemical Cycles
September 22 - September 27, 2014

The Autumn School will support the training of young scientists building the next generation’s researcher in the growing field of data assimilation in biogeochemical cycle science.
It will be organized as a 6-day long school with two 1.5 hours blocks of lectures in the morning and two 1.5 hours blocks of exercises in the afternoon. Topics to be covered include biogeochemical cycles in the Earth System, modelling of dynamical systems, data assimilation methods and its application in biogeochemical modelling.
Students have the opportunity to present their work during a poster session.


Blog: Cherskii campaign 2014
April 9, 2014

A small BGC team of scientists and technicians made the long trip to Chersky in Northeast Siberia, once again. Find out more about their activities on the new blog started by our PhD student Fanny Kittler.


Max Planck Scientists from Jena on “Fact Finding Mission“ in Slovenia
April 10, 2014

Axel Mithöfer and Jost Lavric from the Jena Max Planck Institutes for Chemical Ecology and for Biogeochemistry were among a delegation of scientists in the Max Planck Society who followed an invitation by the Slovenian Ministry of Science. They traveled to Ljubljana on April 2-3, 2014, where they met with representatives of the Slovenian research infrastructure to discuss possible future cooperation.
The specific goal of these meetings was to prepare the basis for EU-funded Teaming or Twinning projects. Such projects support the development of the research infrastructure in structurally weak regions by cooperating with research partners from well established institutions.

National workshop on critical zone observatories
May 15 - May 16, 2014

The CZO national workshop will take place in Jena with the objective to discuss the compartments of interest and the perspectives to establish a network of CZOs in Germany.


Heinz-Maier-Leibnitz-Prize awarded to Sönke Zaehle
May 15, 2014

The Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize has been awarded to young researchers since 1977 as a distinction for their outstanding achievements. The prize, valued at €20,000, and rated by the large research organizations as third most important German Science Award, assists young researchers in furthering their scientific careers.

In his research, biogeochemist Sönke Zaehle integrates nitrogen dynamics into global vegetation models. These models represent an important basis for initial estimates about the limiting effect of nitrogen on the growth of the land biomass and its impact on the carbon cycle. They can also be used to better understand changes influenced by climate change.

Picture: © DFG / David Ausserhofer


CO2 concentrations top 400 ppm throughout northern hemisphere
June 2, 2014

For the first time in our history, monthly concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere topped 400 ppm in April throughout the northern hemisphere. According to WMO, this threshold is of symbolic and scientific significance and reinforces evidence that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are responsible for the continuing increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases warming our planet.

The data is based on 15 northern hemisphere monitoring stations, including MPI-BGC’s Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory (CVO), forming the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch network. All stations of the network reported record atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the seasonal maximum. This occurs early in the northern hemisphere spring before vegetation growth absorbs CO2.


Data from MPI-BGC's station at Cape Verde
Map of WMO stations

Nitrogen fixation - a millions of years old symbiosis
June 10, 2014

Most likely the capability of plant symbiosis with nitrogen fixing root bacteria origins in a single and profound event more than 100 millions of years ago.

Werner, G. D. A. et al. A single evolutionary innovation drives the deep evolution of symbiotic N2 fixation in angiosperms. Nat. Commun. 5:4087, doi: 10.1038/ncomms5087 (2014).

Jens Kattge
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Ressearch Group “Functional Biogeographie”
Hans-Knöll-Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
Phone: +49 3641 576226
Email: jkattge(at)


20 years of atmospheric research using commercial airliners
May 22, 2014

Commercial airliners have been used to deliver long-term data on the composition of our atmosphere since 20 years. Within the IAGOS project Dr. Christoph Gerbig from MPI for Biogeochemistry is involved in the development of high-accuracy measurement systems of atmospheric trace gases on board of aircraft. These special instruments must be suited for the aircraft environment, taking into account vibrations, weight limitations, and strict safety regulations. The abundant data provided by airliners are included in atmospheric transport models. They thus help to validate data gained from satellites or ground measurements that aim at better understanding the gas exchange between the atmosphere and the land surface.

Achievement, results, and the future of the European infrastructure projects IAGOS and its ancestor MOZAIC have now been discussed and commemorated in the symposium held in Toulouse on May 22, 2014.


Ancient Precambrian rocks sampled in Grand Canyon
June 23, 2014

MPI-BGC members Lennart van Maldegem and Christian Hallmann (Paleobiogeochemistry Group) obtained precious samples during a field expedition to the Grand Canyon. Together with colleagues from University Brest (Pierre Sansjofre) and Boston College (Paul Strother), they undertook an arduous two-day hike to reach the bottom of the canyon. Down there they studied, measured and sampled a sequence of Neoproterozoic rocks that were deposited just before Earth plunged into it's most severe Snowball Earth glacial. As part of van Maldegem's PhD project, the obtained samples are supposed to shed more light on the nature of life and environmental conditions that prevailed on Earth around 750 million years ago.


Two millennia of ecoclimatology and geoecology - from Aristotle to FLUXNET - Inaugural lecture of Markus Reichstein
July 9, 2014

Today, on July 9, 2014, Markus Reichstein will give his inaugural lecture to join the Faculty of Chemical and Earth Sciences at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Max Planck Director Reichstein will present "Two millennia of ecoclimatology and geoecology - from Aristotle to FLUXNET".

The lecture is public and starts at 6.00 p.m. in the auditorium of the university main building.


Earthworms help against flooding
July 23, 2014

Junior Professor Anke Hildebrand and Dr. Christine Fischer of Friedrich Schiller University in cooperation with the MPI for Biogeochemistry showed that the capacity for rainfall water uptake depends on the type of vegetation as well as on the presence of earthworms. Together with legumes, the earthworms allow an optimized pore structure which is crucial for water uptake in case of heavy rainfall.

The experimental study has been carried out at the Jena Experiment site in the floodplains of the Saale River which is technically serviced by the MPI for Biogeochemistry.

Original publication:
Fischer C et al. How do earthworms, soil texture and plant composition affect infiltration along an experimental plant diversity gradient in grassland? PLOS One 2014, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098987


NASA CO2 monitoring satellite OCO-2 successfully launched
July 2, 2014

Earlier today MPI-BGC scientists were again watching anxiously as NASA’s latest scientific satellite, OCO-2, was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California after the launch had to be scrubbed yesterday for technical reasons.
“OCO” stands for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, but also represents the molecule of the gas it plans to measure: carbon dioxide (OCO = Oxygen-Carbon-Oxygen). OCO-2 should be able to measure the global distribution of column-integrated carbon dioxide with unprecedented spatial coverage and resolution. The hope was the same for its predecessor, OCO, which was unfortunately lost during a failed launch in 2009.

Several scientists from our institute are taking part in the project. The Atmospheric Remote Sensing group, led by Dietrich Feist, is operating one of the ground-based stations of the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON: on Ascension Island. Just like OCO-2, the TCCON stations measure the concentration of CO2 not at the surface, but averaged over the whole thickness of the atmosphere. These ground-based stations provide a unique reference network for the calibration of spaceborne atmospheric measurements, not only those of OCO-2, but also earlier sensors such as TANSO on GOSAT (Japan) or SCIAMACHY on Envisat (ESA). The station on Ascension Island, lying in the remote tropical Atlantic between Africa and South America, is particularly well situated for the calibration of satellite measurements over the ocean. A team was even sent to the site to ensure everything was in full operation before the launch.

As for the measurements themselves, they will be used in atmospheric transport modeling studies as soon as they become available. In our institute this work will largely take place in the Satellite-based Remote Sensing group of Julia Marshall. These new measurements will help to constrain the global distribution of carbon dioxide surface sources and sinks. Compared to the existing surface-based measurement network, and even the currently operating satellite sensor TANSO, OCO-2 will provide information on significantly finer spatial scales, giving us information about where exactly carbon is being taken up and released. Another promising scientific byproduct delivered by OCO-2 is plant fluorescence, which is a direct measure for plant photosynthesis. This will provide some new insight about the terrestrial carbon cycle, by separating the processes of photosynthesis (resulting in uptake of carbon by plants) and respiration (whereby carbon dioxide is released from plants).


Workshop "Model-data integration for the next generation of forest FACE experiments"
November 17 - November 19, 2014

A new generation of Free-Air CO2 enrichment experiments (FACE) is about to be launched in mature forest ecosystems.
Invited scientists from across the world will meet in Jena from November 17 to 19, 2014 at the MPI for History and the Sciences to discuss the use advanced ecosystem models to help designing these experiments, and identify measurements that may be useful to improve ecosystem models with the experimental results.

This New Phytologist sponsored workshop is organized by Sönke Zaehle ( MPI for Biogeochemistry), Rich Norby (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA), and Belinda Medlyn (Macquarie University, Australia).


International Workshop "Fluxnet Synthesis"
January 9 - January 14, 2011

International Workshop "ClimAfrica Project"
February 14 - February 15, 2011

International Workshop "The TRY initiave on plant traits"
March 25 - March 29, 2011

International Workshop "CarboExtreme Project"
May 24 - May 26, 2011

Highly cited scientists at MPI for Biogeochemistry
August 8, 2014

In the ISI ranking 2014 recently published by Thomson Reuters, scientists are listed who are most frequently cited by their fellow researchers. In the field “Environment/Ecology”, Markus Reichstein and Ernst-Detlef Schulze made it in this list of 137 highly cited scientists worldwide.

Researchers included in this ranking must have published a certain number of ‘Highly Cited Papers’, defined as those papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year. However, since the analysis is done within 21 broad fields, cross-disciplinary research like biogeochemistry is underestimated.


Dürre und Stürme heizen Klima besonders stark auf
August 15, 2013


Hitze zerstört Pufferwirkung der Böden und Pflanzen
August 15, 2013


Wie sich extreme Wetter- und Klimaereignisse auf den Kohlenstoff- Kreislauf auswirken
August 15, 2013


Dürre, Stürme und weitreichende Folgen: Wissenschaftler aus Jena erforschen Extremereignisse
August 25, 2013


Ernst-Haeckel-Preis für Jenaer Forscher
August 21, 2013


Fußballspiel für einen guten Zweck
September 17, 2013


Max-Planck-Forschungspreis für Klimawissenschaftler
November 15, 2013


Max-Planck-Forschungspreis für Jenaer Wissenschaftler
November 14, 2013


Klima, Käfer, Kettensäge - Warum sich unser Wald verändern muss
January 15, 2014


Väterchen Frost - Ein Interview mit dem Botanik-Professor Ernst-Detlef Schulze.
December 27, 2013


Forschungspreis an Thüringer Nachwuchswissenschaftler
February 17, 2014


Seismograph Regenwald: Wissenschaftler aus Jena haben Beweise für stärkere Kohlenstoffbilanz-Schwankungen
February 23, 2014


Kalifornische Professorin tauschte Malibu gegen den Saalestrand
February 20, 2014


Forscher aus Jena für höchstdotierten Umweltpreis in Europa nominiert
March 27, 2014


Erster Thüringer Klimarat berufen
May 12, 2014


Ozeane als CO2-Speicher: Bremsen sie den Klimawandel?
September 20, 2012


The secret code of ecosystems
September 15, 2014

The science journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) just now published an online Early Edition of the Special Feature “Functional Biogeography” in which scientists from MPI for Biogeochemistry are authoring two publications and the editorial.

Original publications:

Linking plant and ecosystem functional biogeography
Markus Reichstein, Michael Bahn, Miguel D. Mahecha, Jens Kattge und Dennis D. Baldocchi
Proccedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) special feature, online veröffentlicht, 15. September 2014; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1216065111

Predicting species’ range limits from functional traits for the tree flora of North America
Ulrike Stahl, Björn Reu und Christian Wirth
Proccedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) special feature, online veröffentlicht, 15. September 2014; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1300673111

The emergence and promise of functional biogeography
Cyrille Viollea, Peter B. Reich, Stephen W. Pacalad, Brian J. Enquiste und Jens Kattge
Proccedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) special feature, online veröffentlicht, 15. September 2014; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1415442111


Excellent evaluation of our Graduate School
September 19, 2014

Our International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles (IMPRS-gBGC) offers a PhD program in global biogeochemistry and related Earth System sciences. It was established in 2010, in cooperation with the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

In summer 2014, our school has been evaluated by an international review team. The evaluation committee unanimously and enthusiastically recommended the continuation for another six years. The international reviewers praised the quality of science, its originality, innovativeness, interconnectedness, the synergy effects and the internationality of the school, as well as the enthusiasm and the commitment of all partners.

Our structured PhD program focuses on:
- Improved understanding of biogeochemical processes, with an emphasis on terrestrial ecosystems,
- Development of observational techniques to monitor and assess biogeochemical feed-backs in the Earth system,
- Theory and model development for improving the representation of biogeochemical processes in comprehensive Earth system models.

Our science and education package concentrates on:
- Sound education in global biogeochemical cycles through lecture courses
- Individual research on a concise thesis project, performed in a top research environment
- Training in collaborative research through research visits at foreign top research groups
- Individual mentoring and steering by advisory committees including extramural researchers


Blast, Winde, blast!
October 23, 2014


Workshop: Review and progress of FLUXCOM
November 12 - November 13, 2014

Review and progress of FLUXCOM - an ensemble of global data-driven products of carbon and energy fluxes

The workshop aims at presenting the latest results and analysis of a new set of products of global carbon and energy fluxes. These products have been generated by the FLUXCOM team over the course of the last two years by integrating global in-situ measurements, satellite remote sensing and meteorological reanalysis using an ensemble of different machine learning techniques and common protocols. The data products will, for example, be used to constrain the global land carbon budget from an observational perspective within the EU-GEOCARBON project.

Venue: Max Planck Institute for History and the Sciences, Jena

Organizer: Martin Jung, MPI-BGC

Forests endangered by climate change, international experts conclude
November 20, 2014

Forests cover one-third of the Earth’s land surface, and they provide many essential ecological, economic and social services. During the last decades, the scientific community has been alarmed by reports of widespread tree and forest mortality worldwide. Research indicates that this mortality is linked to warmer temperatures, especially when combined with droughts. However, substantial uncertainties exist about precisely how the increasing temperatures and drought cause trees to die. Therefore, realistic predictions of future forest condition and risk assessments of potential broad-scale forest loss are currently not available.

To broadly address this topic, an international group of 65 leading tree physiologists, forest ecologists and modelers from six continents met at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, from Oct 20 – 23, 2014. Organized by Henrik Hartmann, group leader in the Department Biogeochemical Processes, the meeting facilitated interdisciplinary exchanges between diverse experts as a means to assess the frontiers of research on climate-induced tree mortality.

Covering a wide range of disciplines, all meeting participants provided their two most pressing research questions. As a result from a series of discussions and debates, the workshop scientists jointly developed the following declaration to raise public awareness on the anticipated worldwide climate-induced tree mortality, which bears immense societal and ecological consequences.

• Forests are extremely important to society through the many services they provide, and all peoples around the world either depend directly on forests for their livelihood or indirectly benefit from forests.

• Despite existing scientific uncertainties, this group of ecological researchers is confident that many forests are at substantial risk of increased tree death rates and even widespread tree die-off due to projected warmer temperatures, particularly during droughts.

• Thus, this ecological research community wishes to raise awareness of this risk for substan-tial consequences for society from increased forest die-off expected with climate warming, and also that we can reduce this risk by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The wide variation in both geographical study sites and fields of expertise represented by the workshop participants provided an excellent basis to determine current research needs and to help guide future research efforts on drought- and heat-induced tree mortality. The experts reconfirmed that forest health assessments on a global scale are lacking. Concomitantly, the geographical extent of forest die-off at the global scale and the vulnerability of individual biomes to increasing temperatures remain highly uncertain. To determine the patterns and trends of forest mortality globally, researchers urged the development of a global monitoring network on forest conditions, based on both internationally available plot networks and remote sensing. “The scientists at our workshop jointly concluded that such data are not only critical to motivate action from governments, policy makers and forest managers, but also to devise specific action strategies to mitigate the underlying climatic conditions”, Henrik Hartmann said.

The breadth of expertise represented, the highly interactive program and the open atmosphere made the workshop a big success. Nearly all scientists have agreed to reconvene in follow-up workshops, to further address the future of our forests.

For further information please see the meeting webpage at

Contact: Dr. Henrik Hartmann
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Hans Knöll Str. 10
07745 Jena, Germany

Photo: Widespread mortality of Picea engelmanni at Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado
Picture credit: (C) Craig Allen, USGS, Los Alamos, USA

Press Release (pdf)

Biodiversity Conservation is defeated by Deer
December 2, 2014

The potential contribution of forest conservation areas to avoid species losses is very low, or even negative, as long as wildlife ruminants overgraze the protected areas.
Not in all cases where nature and biodiversity conservation is intended, species protection is the outcome. The ambitious political target e.g. of the German biodiversity strategy to take 5 percent of the forest area out of management, and to produce a wilderness for biodiversity, will lead to the paradox situation of a species loss. In Thuringia the plan is to take 25,000 ha out of management for conservation. However, without the presence of predators or enough hunting, this will lead to an overpopulation of deer, distorting the desired biodiversity by overgrazing.

In a large scale inventory work German and Romanian scientists have investigated the diversity status of tree regeneration on about 7,000 plots in deciduous forests in Thuringia, Germany, and Romania. The results have just been published in “Annals of Forest Research”. In Thuringia about 50 to 60 percent of the tree species are damaged and subsequently lost by browsing. In Romania the loss is lower with only 10 to 30 percent of the tree species. The damage is largest in protected areas, such as National Parks and Nature Reserves. The deer population is such high, that the pro-tection target gets lost also for organisms other than trees.

“The situation is very severe”, says Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Emeritus Professor at the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, and lead author of the study. “At this moment we produce monocultures of beech, because – among other reasons - beech saplings are much less damaged by browsing than other tree shoots. “Ecologically the effects are the same as for other monocultures, e.g. spruce forests.”

“We are facing the problem of a very narrow focus of nature conservation” states Dr. Helge Walen-towski of the Bavarian State Institute of Forestry at Freising, Germany. “We will have lots of dead wood but e.g. no butterflies. The loss of tree species results in a loss of insects. Every second butterfly species is going to get extinct; since a specific tree species that is needed for living is being lost as seedling due to feeding of roe deer”.

“The situation will only change, if the legal basis of hunting will be changed” Dr. Laura Bouriaud, Professor for Forest Law at the School of Forestry in Suceava, Romania points out. “There is no rational that hunters have a monopoly on regulating deer populations when the population level runs out of control”. “The study shows, that only sustainable wildlife and forest management maintains the biodiversity in European forests” says Dr. Dominik Hessenmöller, coworker of the Thuringian Forest Service. “von Carlowitz, who coined the word “sustainable management”, recommended, that a browsed species should be cut, because it will never recover”.

“We were very surprised by our findings. We did not expect such a high damage in Romania” says Dr. Olivier Bouriaud of the Romanian Forest and Management Institute at Bucharest. “In Romania we have wolves and bears and lynx. But a totally new problem emerged in Romania, namely the effects of illegal grazing by domestic goat and sheep, which appears to be highest in protected areas. This however should not obscure the fact that we also have problems with deer, because the wolves prefer to hunt a sheep on alpine grassland rather than a roe deer on steep alpine forest slopes”. At this moment the high level of damage in conservation areas (National Parks) is only part of the truth. Also managed forests have unacceptable high levels of deer damage to an extent, that the declared management goals of changing monocultures into mixed forest stands is endangered.

Original publication:
E.D. Schulze, O. Bouriaud, J. Wäldchen, N. Eisenhauer, H. Walentowski, C. Seele, E. Heinze, U. Pruschitzki, G. D?nil?, G. Martin, D. Hessenmöller, L. Bouriaud, M. Teodosiu (2014). Ungulate browsing causes species loss in deciduous forests independent of community dynamics and silvicultural management in Central and Southeastern Europe. Ann. For. Res. 57(2)_-_2014

Prof. Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze
Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany

Dr. Olivier Bouriaud
Forest Research and Management Institute, Campulung, Romania

Browsing in the Keula National Reserve
Picture credit: Thomas Stephan (
The picture is free for journalistic use only in the context of this press release.

Press Release (pdf)

European carbon sink larger than presumed
January 5, 2015

Analyzing satellite data environmental physicists from University Bremen in cooperation with national and international partners, amongst them Christoph Gerbig from MPI for Biogeochemistry, could show that the vegetation of the northern hemisphere is taking up more CO2 than presumed.

Original Publication: Reuter, M., Buchwitz, M., Hilker, M., Heymann, J., Schneising, O., Pillai, D., Bovensmann, H., Burrows, J. P., Bösch, H., Parker, R., Butz, A., Hasekamp, O., O'Dell, C. W., Yoshida, Y., Gerbig, C., Nehrkorn, T., Deutscher, N. M., Warneke, T., Notholt, J., Hase, F., Kivi, R., Sussmann, R., Machida, T., Matsueda, H., and Sawa, Y.: Satellite-inferred European carbon sink larger than expected, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 13739-13753, doi:10.5194/acp-14-13739-2014, 2014.


Deutsches Klima-Konsortium: temperature records in 2014
January 5, 2015

Position of the Deutsche Klima Konsortium on the temperature records of 2014 The past year is both in Germany and globally one of the warmest or even the warmest year since 1881, the beginning of comprehensive temperature recordings.

The full text is only available in German language.


DKK Position (in German)

ESRP Annual Meeting
June 3 - June 5, 2015

The Earth System Research Partnership (ESRP) combines the three Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry (Jena), for Chemistry (Mainz) and for Meteorology (Hamburg). This year’s meeting of the scientists cooperating within the ESRP will take place in Ahrensburg from June 3-5, 2015.

New Emmy Noether Junior Research Group
January 28, 2015

Forest ecologist Carlos Sierra was recently granted the prestigious Emmy Noether Program from the German Science Foundation (DFG) to establish a new junior research group within the Department Biogeochemical Processes. His new group Theoretical Ecosystem Ecology will study theoretical aspects of natural ecosystems, in particular topics about nonlinearities of biogeochemical cycling in terrestrial ecosystems.

The main objective of the junior group is to produce a mathematical synthesis of observations and models of biogeochemical cycling, and to explore theoretic possibilities of how carbon and nutrient cycles could behave in terrestrial ecosystems, particularly under a changing climate. One important question that will be addressed is the possibility of sudden changes in ecosystem behavior (tipping points) that might be triggered by interactions between the ecosystems and their surrounding environment.
To address this complex theoretical task the program supports one postdoc, three PhD students and the group leader. The group will collect different models used to predict carbon and nutrient cycling in ecosystems and will form a repository of models where they can be compared and tested against different observations. A main task will be to extract the main mathematical properties of these different models and propose equations that can generalize these different models according to basic ecological principles. The program is expected to run for five years.

Carlos Sierra, born and raised in Colombia, studied forest ecology with a focus on modelling and theory at Oregon State University where he also received his PhD. Sierra pursued his research in the tropics where he investigated carbon cycling in tropical forests before joining our institute five years ago.

The Emmy Noether Programme supports researchers in achieving independence at an early stage of their scientific careers. Postdocs gain the qualifications required for a university teaching career during a DFG-funded period, usually lasting five years, in which they lead their own independent junior research group. As a rule, researchers who have acquired between two and four years of postdoctoral research experience are eligible to apply. Applicants must have international research experience.


Böden reagieren auf Klimawandel anders als gedacht
February 17, 2015


Geoengineering ist keine Lösung
February 6, 2015


Aus der Luft gegriffen
February 15, 2015


Der Stoffwechsel der Erde
September 7, 2014


Da steckt der Wurm drin: Regenwürmer als Hochwasserschutz
November 5, 2014


Die Stunde der Klima-Klempner
February 19, 2014


Seminar series: Biogeochemical Signals
April 23 - June 10, 2015

ZOTTO tower in Siberia
Speakers of the Seminar series are listed in the pdf document (agenda) below:

Agenda of the seminar series

Humboldt stipend holders visit MPI-BGC
March 12, 2015

The Alexander-von-Humboldt foundation regularly invites non-European climate protection researchers from different disciplines to visit Germany.

In an introductory seminar, planned by the German Federal Environmental Foundation, excursions and scientific discussions are organized to and with important institutions dealing with climate and environment.

Topic of this year's seminar is: Overview on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, including a lecture by A. Kleidon.

Global land use study reveals substantial biodiversity loss
April 1, 2015

Intensive agriculture, here in Saxony-Anhalt (picture author: Istvan Hejja)
Intensive agriculture and expanding land use have come at the expense of local ecosystems worldwide with high species loss, but some of the damage can be reversed.

The study on global effects of land use on biodiversity has been published on April 2, 2015 in the renowned scientific journal nature. Please find the English press release of the National History Museum as pdf file below.

Jens Kattge from Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena contributed to the study, showing that the average vegetation height decreases with increasing land use. This is an important indicator for changes in ecosystem functions, in particular restrictions of the water cycle.

The international study is a result of the PREDICTS Project which has been prolonged under the involvement of our institute. The focus will then be on the effects of the species loss on relevant ecosystem functions.

Original publication
Global effects of land use on local terrestrial biodiversity.
Tim Newbold, Lawrence N. Hudson, Samantha L.L. Hill, Sara Contu, Igor Lysenko, Rebecca A. Senior, Luca Börger, Dominic Bennett, Argyrios Choimes, Ben Collen, Julie Day, Adriana De Palma, Sandra Díaz, Susy Echeverria-Londoño, Melanie Edgar, Anat Feldman8, Morgan Garon, Michelle L. K. Harrison, Tamera Alhusseini, Daniel J. Ingram, Yuval Itescu, Jens Kattge, Victoria Kemp, Lucinda Kirkpatrick, Michael Kleyer, David Laginha Pinto Correia, Callum Martin, Shai Meiri, Maria Novosolov, Yuan Pan, Helen R.P. Phillips, Drew W. Purves, Alexandra Robinson, Jake Simpson, Sean Tuck, Evan Weiher, Hannah J. White, Robert M. Ewers, Georgina M. Mace, Jörn P.W. Scharlemann, Andy Purvis. (2015). Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature14324.

Dr. Jens Kattge
Interdepartmental Max Planck Fellow Group Functional Biogeography
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 6226


Press Release National History Museum

Species diversity protects the climate
April 7, 2015

On the left: positive impact of plant diversity on microbial carbon storage, on the right: experimental field site of long-term study 'The Jena Experiment' Graphics: Markus Lange & Lisa Geesink, Picture author: Alexandra Weigelt ©MPI-BGC
Plant species diversity reduces the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere: Plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and incorporate this carbon into plant biomass. A portion of this “fixed” carbon can be stored longer term in the soil through root systems and decomposition after plant death. A long-term study carried out by the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena has demonstrated now for the first time how the biological diversity of plants increases this carbon storage. The scientists have shown that species diversity not only boosts the formation of plant biomass but also increases the activity and genetic diversity of soil microorganisms increasingly transforming the plant carbon into soil organic matter. Thus, the carbon is bound for longer and sustainably removed from the atmosphere where it acts as climate-damaging greenhouse gas.

The richness of species in an ecosystem is not only a source of joy for nature lovers; it also defines an ecosystem’s functional characteristics and potentially maintains stability with climate change. For example, ecosystems dominated by plants play a central role in the global carbon cycle: through photosynthesis, grasses, trees, and other plants transform atmospheric carbon dioxide into plant biomass. The carbon they bind in this way then reaches the soil as organic matter via plant litter and root exudates and can be stored there. The fact that extensive plant diversity promotes the storage of carbon in the soil has already been demonstrated by previous studies; however, the exact mechanism behind this process was not known up to now.

An international research team headed by Gerd Gleixner and Markus Lange both scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, investigated why ecosystems with extensive species diversity bind more carbon than others with fewer species. To do so they used the test plots of the Jena Experiment, a long-term project being carried out jointly by the Max Planck researchers and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena to examine the influence of biodiversity on elemental fluxes in nature. The research team compared grasslands of different species composition which had been exposed to the same environmental conditions for a nine-year period. The scientists observed that, unlike their species-poor counterparts, species-rich grasslands provide the soil microorganisms with more nutrients and substances, and at the same time offer more favorable environmental conditions. “These factors led to greater genetic diversity and, in particular, to increased activity on the part of the microbial community,” says Markus Lange, first author of the study.

A high level of biodiversity appears to alter the metabolism of the microorganisms

Unexpectedly, the increased microbial activity did not result in the loss of carbon-rich matter in the soil as decomposition did not appear to increase. On the contrary, the microbial community added more carbon to the soil because it converted more plant biomass. “In the presence of greater biodiversity, the microorganisms’ metabolism appears to have shifted towards anabolic activity,” says Lange, explaining the study findings. Moreover, as demonstrated by the age determination of the carbon molecules in the soil based on natural isotopes and carbon flow modelling, this “microbial” carbon is stored in the soil for longer. The study thus demonstrates, for the first time, that a high level of plant diversity results in the long-term storage of carbon in the soil because it gives rise to a more varied composition and greater activity on the part of the microbial community.

From a global perspective, plant-rich ecosystems are particularly important for storing atmospheric carbon dioxide which would otherwise as greenhouse gas increase the warming of the Earth. How-ever, biodiversity is constantly being reduced through the impacts of climate change and increasing land use, and has reached a stage of global decline and species loss. “Once again, our findings high-light the importance of biodiversity for important ecosystem functions like carbon storage,” says Gerd Gleixner. “The conservation of a high level of biodiversity ultimately sustainably counteracts the increasing accumulation of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and hence climate change as well.”

The study of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena was published on April 7, 2015 in Nature Communications. The international research team was completed by Prof. Nico Eisenhauer (German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig), Prof. Robert I. Griffith (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford,UK) as well as scientists from the Georg August University Göttingen, the Humboldt University Berlin, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, and the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Montferrier-sur-Lez, France. (ml, ef)

Original publication
Plant diversity increases soil microbial activity and soil carbon storage

Markus Lange, Nico Eisenhauer, Carlos A. Sierra, Holger Bessler, Christoph Engels, Robert I. Griffiths, Perla G. Mellado-Vázquez, Ashish Malik, Jacques Roy, Stefan Scheu, Sibylle Steinbeiss, Bruce C. Thomson, Susan E. Trumbore, Gerd Gleixner. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7707

Contact apl. Prof. Dr. Gerd Gleixner
Dpt. Biogeochemical Processes
MPI for Biogeochemistry
07745 Jena, Germany
Phone: 03641-576172

Dr. Markus Lange
Dpt. Biogeochemical Processes
MPI for Biogeochemistry
07745 Jena, Germany
Phone: 03641-576168


Press Release (pdf)

Workshop on Eddy Covariance
May 18 - May 22, 2015

Eddy Covariance Tower Wetzstein
General information

This workshop will cover 5 days, split up into a scientific seminar (1 day) at the beginning, followed by the eddy-covariance course (4 days) focusing on theory, instrumentation and data processing skills. During the seminar section, the participants (students and instructors) will present major research objectives from their sites, and latest results from their own research. The course itself will consist of lectures, hands-on classes with software tools, instrument sessions the laboratory, and an excursion to the MPI-BGC field site at the Wetzstein.

Target group

This workshop is offered to external collaborators from national and international observation sites where MPI-BGC is actively involved in the conducted research. In addition, the workshop will also be open to interested students within the MPI-BGC graduate program, IMPRG-gBGC. Maximum size of participants is set to 20.

Please find additional information in the pdf workshop agenda for download.

workshop agenda

New weather station for environmental research
April 14, 2015

Mounting the measurement instruments, © Martin Hertel, MPI-BGC
The former Manor Linde is located at the border of a natural reserve in the picturesque Havelland Luch area in Brandenburg. With its 320 hectares of fields and forests it offers optimal conditions for environmental research. The Zwillenberg-Tietz Foundation, owner of the research station Linde, supports suitable scientific projects with environmental focus.

The research station Linde was recently complemented with new equipment: In second half of March Olaf Kolle and his team set up a new meteorological station following the guidelines of the German Weather Service DWD. The 10 meter high triangle lattice tower now hosts instruments for measuring air temperature, humidity, pressure, global radiation, wind velocity, and wind direction. Within the surroundings of the tower soil temperatures and soil humidity are measured at different depths up to one meter. A precipitation sensor registers rain, snow, and hale. Shortly the measured values will be available on the webpage of the Zwillenberg-Tietz Foundation.

The new meteorological station is part of a project aiming at generating an early warning system for ecosystem changes. Dr. Vanessa-Nina Roth and Prof. Gerd Gleixner from MPI for Biogeochemistry investigate the influence of vegetation on the chemical composition and the export of dissolved organic compounds. They chose three different locations for their studies: grassland, oak forest, and pine forest. At each location soil water is collected at 5 different depths between 5 and 60 cm of which the content of dissolved organic and inorganic carbon as well as important nutients is determined. The molecular composition of the dissolved organic components is identified with high resolution mass spectrometry. The resulting molecular fingerprints with regard to the environmental parameters are supposed to show how the characteristics of an ecosystem influence the molecular fingerprints. The knowledge of these interactions will be used to set up an early warning system for detecting changes in ecosystems.

The project and the weather station are supported by the Zwillenberg-Tietz Foundation.


Research project Molecular Finger prints of Ecosystems:
Dr. Vanessa-Nina Roth
Phone: 03641- 57 6165

Meteorological Station:
Olaf Kolle
Phone: 03641-57 6555

Zwillenberg-Tietz Foundation
Phone: 030-8263948

Forschungsstation Linde
Dr. Marcus Wicke


New chairman of DKK
May 8, 2015

Mojib Latif, head of the Research Division Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics at GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, follows Jochem Marotzke as chaiman of the German Climate Consortium (DKK).
Marotzke, director at the Hamburg Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, has chaired the organization since its foundation in 2009 and decisively influenced the development of the DKK.

During the general meeting the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) has been adopted as 23rd member and third federal authority within the consortium.


DKK Press Release (in German)

Linking space observations to ecosystem functions
May 19, 2015

Focus areas in Europe and Africa
Satellite observations play an increasingly important role in monitoring changes of terrestrial ecosystems at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The new EU funded project “BACI” translates satellite data streams into novel “essential biodiversity variables” by integrating ground-based observations. The trans-disciplinary project will offer new insights into the functioning and state of ecosystems and biodiversity. BACI enables the user community to detect abrupt and transient changes of ecosystems and quantify the implications for regional biodiversity. Other key elements are, firstly attributing ecosystem transformations to societal transformations, and secondly developing a prototype early warning system for detecting disturbances at the interface of land ecosystems and atmosphere.

The continuous transformation of ecosystems, induced by land use change or resulting from climate change may put at risk the maintenance of regional ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. As promoted by GEO-BON (“The Group On Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network”, scientists, land managers, NGOs and policy makers amongst others would benefit tremendously from an easy-to-access system for detecting these changes at an early stage in order to develop mitigation and management strategies.

The new EU-funded BACI project “Detecting changes in essential ecosystem and biodiversity properties – towards a Biosphere Atmosphere Change Index” takes up this challenge and exploits current and future European space data archives, including optical and radar data, to this end. One component of the international consortium is integration of space and ground data to unravel new and fundamental relationships between space observations and ecosystem status. Modern machine-learning tools will be key to this effort allowing for an effective exploitation of European data and deriving new essential ecosystem variables – in particular, novel “Essential Biodiversity Variables”. These variables will in turn enable users to more easily interpret observed ecosystem and biodiversity changes. A second component of BACI consists of building a system that auto-matically detects critical transitions in ecosystems and attributes these to transitions in the societal system. One of the goals is identifying hotspots of change within selected key regions in Europe and Africa, all of which are undergoing different societal-ecological transformations that might itself be attributable to environmental change.

The European Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme funds the BACI project which brings together ten leading research and data processing institutions with the intention of contrib-uting to international efforts to advance the monitoring of key properties required to an improved understanding of biodiversity patterns and transformations, as well as to ecosystem functional properties. The consortium includes the Max Plank Institute for Biogeochemistry (Germany, coordinator), University degli studi della Tuscia (Italy), Eidgenoessische Forschungsanstalt (Switzerland), Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (Germany), Wageningen University (Netherlands), University College London (United Kingdom), Universität Klagenfurt (Austria), Aarhus Universitet (Denmark), Rezatec (United Kingdom) and Science and Technology Facilities Council (United Kingdom).

From May 19 to May 21, 2015 the ten European partners will come together to officially kick off their new project. Besides organizing and hosting the meeting in Jena, the Max Plank Institute for Biogeochemistry is responsible for coordinating, managing, and disseminating the outcome of the project. Within the next four years the scientists will join forces to deliver the first version of an early warning system for ecosystem changes.

Dr. Miguel Mahecha
Dpt. Biogeochemical Integration
MPI for Biogeochemistry
07745 Jena, Germany
Ph: +49 (0)3641-576265


Press Release (pdf)

BACI kick-off meeting
May 19 - May 21, 2015

Satellite observations play an increasingly important role in monitoring changes of terrestrial ecosystems at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The new EU funded project “BACI” translates satellite data streams into novel “essential biodiversity variables” by integrating ground-based observations. The trans-disciplinary project will offer new insights into the functioning and state of ecosystems and biodiversity. BACI enables the user community to detect abrupt and transient changes of ecosystems and quantify the implications for regional biodiversity. Other key elements are, firstly attributing ecosystem transformations to societal transformations, and secondly developing a prototype early warning system for detecting disturbances at the interface of land ecosystems and atmosphere.

During the kick-off meeting at the MPI for Biogeochemistry the partners will present and discuss their work packages and plan the future steps for a successful project process.


Eukaryotes: a new timetable of evolution
May 26, 2015

Night shift drilling
- The English version will follow soon -

Verunreinigte Proben haben in der Zeittafel des Lebens offenbar einige Verwirrung gestiftet. Ein internationales Team, zu dem Wissenschaftler des Max-Planck-Instituts für Biogeochemie gehörten, hat mit extrem sauberen Analysen einen vermeintlichen Beleg, dass Eukaryoten vor 2,5 bis 2,8 Milliarden Jahren entstanden sind, entkräftet.Eukaryoten besitzen anders als Prokaryoten wie etwa Bakterien einen Zellkern. Einige Forscher meinten, in bis zu 2,8 Milliarden Jahre alten Gesteinsproben molekulare Spuren der Lebewesen gefunden zu haben. Wie die aktuelle Studie nun zeigt, stammen diese jedoch von Verunreinigungen. Den ältesten Beweis für die Existenz von Eukaryoten liefern nun 1,5 Milliarden Jahre alte Mikrofossilien.

Zumindest im Stammbaum des Lebens ist eine Amöbe dem Menschen näher als dem Bakterium. Denn wie die Säugetiere gehört sie zum Reich der Eukaryoten, während Bakterien zu den Prokaryoten zählen. Tatsächlich sind die ersten Eukaryoten Urahnen aller höheren Lebensformen einschließlich des Menschen. Insofern machte die Evolution einen großen Schritt hin zukomplexen Lebensformen, als eukaryotische Zellen aufkamen. Die sogennante Symbiogenese,welche zwei oder mehrere einzellige Bakterien zu einem neuen Organismus mit Zellkern und Organellen verschmelzen ließ, war unabdingbare Voraussetzung, damit die meisten Lebewesen, die uns heute umgeben, entstehen konnten.

Um zu verstehen, wie sich höhere Lebensformen entwickelten, wollen Evolutionsbiologen wissen, wann und unter welchen Bedingungen die ersten Eukaryoten auf die Bühne des Lebens traten. Ein internationales Team, an dem auch Forscher aus der Gruppe von Christian Hallmann am Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie beteiligt waren, liefert nun entscheidende Argumente für die wissenschaftliche Debatte über diese Fragen.

Eine Kluft zwischen Fossilien und chemischen Spuren

Die ältesten Mikrofossilien, welche unumstritten als Überbleibsel von Eukaryoten anerkannt sind, fanden sich in etwa 1,5 Milliarden Jahre altem Gestein im Norden Australiens. Diese Fossilien haben Forscher in mikropaläontologischen Studien morphologisch analysiert und dabei als Überreste von Algen identifiziert. In alternativen Versuchen, die Entstehung höherer Lebewesen nachzuvollziehen, haben Wissenschaftler bestimmte Fettmoleküle (Steroide) analysiert, die in den Zellwänden eukaryotischer Organismen enthalten sind. Diese können nicht nur als hochspezifische Erkennungsmerkmale für bestimmte Organismengruppen dienen, sondern untergeeigneten Bedingungen auch extrem lange Zeiträume in Sedimenten überstehen. “Durch die Analyse solcher Moleküle, sogenannte Biomarker, können wir das frühe Leben auf der Erde aufeiner molekularen Ebene rekonstruieren”, sagt Christian Hallmann, Leiter der Max-Planck-Forschungsgruppe ‘Organische Paleobiogeochemie’.

Hallmanns Team arbeitet seit 2012 daran, die Entwicklung von Umweltbedingungen und der Lebensvielfalt in der Zeit von der Erdentstehung bis zur Entwicklung der Tierwelt (Präkambrium )besser zu verstehen. „Die Aufklärung dieser entwicklungsgeschichtlich interessanten Periode profitiert enorm von der molekularen Herangehensweise”, so Hallmann. Auf molekulare Spurenanalysierten der Paläontologe und seine Mitarbeiter nun bis zu 2,7 Milliarden Jahre alte Gesteinsproben.

Steroid-Moleküle können in altem Sediment, also dem versteinerten Grund urzeitlicher Gewässer, als Sterane erhalten bleiben. Und da einige Wissenschaftler solche molekularen Spuren in den vergangenen 15 Jahren vermehrt in Proben von 2,5 bis 2,8 Milliarden Jahren alten Sedimenten identifiziert hatten, schlussfolgerten sie, dass eukaryotische Algen bereits in dieser Zeit, also imspäten Archaikum, entstanden seien. So tat sich also eine Kluft von mehr als einer Milliarde Jahren zwischen der frühesten Ablagerung dieser Biomarker und den ältesten fossilen Mikroalgen ein.

Eine extrem saubere Probenentnahme sollte die Kontaminationsfrage klären

Obendrein wies die Entdeckung unterschiedlicher Steroide auf ein gleichsam modernes Verbreitungsmuster verschiedener Algenspezies hin. “Es wurde zunächst spekuliert, dass dieseine bereits sehr frühe Auffächerung der Algen in verschiedene Arten andeuten könnte“, sagt Christian Hallmann. „Doch die Vermutungen, dass die Proben dieser Studien trotz umfangreicher Vorsichtsmaßnahmen kontaminiert sein könnten, häuften sich.” Das Problem dabei war, dasssämtliches archaisches Probenmaterial entweder nicht unter speziellen Bedingungen beprobt oder mehrere Jahre unter nicht-idealen Bedingungen gelagert wurde. „Die Kontaminationsfrage spaltete unsere Fachkollegen allmählich in zwei widerstreitende Lager”, so Hallmann.

Im Jahr 2012 entwickelte Hallmann daher in Zusammenarbeit mit Katherine French vom Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) eine Methode, um die ältesten Gesteine, die als steroidhaltig eingestuft wurden, auf extrem saubere Weise zu beproben. Zusammen mit Roger Buick von der University of Washington entnahmen die Wissenschaftler während des ‚Agouron Institute Drilling Projects (AIDP)’ im entlegenen australischen Outback über mehrere Wochen Gesteinsproben und ergriffen dabei bislang beispiellose Vorsichtsmaßnahmen, um Verunreinigungen zu vermeiden.

Nicht einmal ein Pikogramm-Mengen eukaryotischer Steroide

Diese Bohrkerne spalteten French, Hallmann sowie weitere Kollegen symmetrisch auf und analysierten sie in mehreren unabhängigen Laboren – mit erstaunlich einheitlichen Ergebnissen.„Wir befürchteten, im Labor feststellen zu müssen, dass die Proben trotz unserer exzessiven Bemühungen verunreinigt waren” so Hallmann. „Dann wäre der ganze Aufwand umsonstgewesen.” Doch die Proben waren extrem sauber; so sauber, dass die hochempfindlichen Massenspektrometer der verschiedenen Labors nicht einmal Pikogramm-Mengen eukaryotischer Steroide detektieren konnten. Die Vermutung, dass frühere Proben kontaminiert gewesen sein könnten, bestätigte sich.

Gleichzeitig fanden die Forscher in dem Gestein relativ große Mengen an sogenannten Diamondoiden und polyaromatischen Kohlenwasserstoffen. Hallmann nennt dies die Auspuff-Signatur, denn diese Moleküle treten auch in den Abgasen von Verbrennungsmotoren auf unddeuten auf organisches Material hin, welches unter hohen Temperaturen verändert wurde. „Das gesamte organische Material in diesen Proben wurde im Laufe der Jahrmillionen durch Druck und Temperatur verändert und keine Biomarker-Moleküle hätten dies überlebt. „Daher können wir keine Aussagen mehr zur ursprünglichen biologischen Signatur des Materials machen”, sagt Hallmann.

Jedenfalls können die vermeintlich 2,7 Milliarden Jahre alten Steroidmoleküle nun nicht mehr als Beweis herhalten, dass Eukaryoten bereits viel früher entstanden sind, als Fossilienfunde belegen. Daher müssen nun die 1,5 Milliarden Jahre alten Mikrofossilien als ältester Nachweis eukaryotischen Lebens auf der Erde gelten – ein Erkenntnisgewinn, der nicht nur in den Geowissenschaften große Nachwirkung haben dürfte.

Biomarker bleiben ein wichtiges Instrument der präkambrischen Paläontologie

Die Ergebnisse tragen aber nicht nur zur Klärung bei, wann Eukaryoten entstanden sind, sie helfen auch, ein weiteres Rätsel zu lösen: Da alle Eukaryoten Sauerstoff benötigen, muss die Entwicklung der Sauerstoff-produzierenden (oxygenen) Photosynthese dem evolutionären Übergang zu den Eukaryoten vorausgegangen sein. Die Folgen dieser biochemischen Innovation, bekannt als „Sauerstoff-Krise“ (great oxidation event) veränderte den gesamten Planeten, wei sich in der Atmosphäre Sauerstoff anreicherte. Sie wird eindeutig auf 2,5 bis 2,4 Milliarden Jahre vor unserer Zeit datiert. Bislang ließ sich schwer erklären, wie die Eukaryoten schon mehrere 100 Millionen vorher entstanden sein konnten, wenn sie doch unbedingt Sauerstoff brauchen.

„Mit einem durchdachten Vorgehen haben wir in einer großen internationalen Kooperation eine der großen Fragen in der molekularen Geobiologie beantwortet” sagt Hallmann. Trotz der neuen Erkenntnisse, bleiben Biomarker in altem Gestein ein wichtiges Instrument für paläontologische Untersuchungen des Präkambrium, nicht zuletzt weil sedimentäre Steroide und andere Biomarker wesentlich spezifischer sind als Mikrofossilien. Im Gegensatz zum Archaikum enthalten diespät-präkambrischen Sedimentbecken der Erde eine Vielfalt an Gesteinen, deren organisches Material relativ gut erhalten ist und auf Biomarker untersucht werden kann. „Mit der Erkenntniseines späteren eukaryotischen Aufkommens können wir jetzt unter neuen Vorzeichen und mit größeren Erfolgsaussichten an der wahren frühen Evolution der Algen arbeiten“.

French, K. L., Hallmann, C., Hope, J. M., Schoon, P. L., Zumberge, J. A., Hoshino, Y., Peters, C. A., George, S. C., Love, G. D., Brocks, J. J., Buick, R., Summons, R. E. (2015). Reappraisal of hydrocarbon biomarkers in Archean rocks. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.USA. doi:10.1073/pnas.1419563112.

Dr. Christian Hallmann
Tel: +49 (0)421 218 65 820
Email: challmann(at)


Climate Effects of Wind Turbines
July 3, 2015

windmills close to Jena (copyright Axel Kleidon)
Wind power currently meets about 3% of electricity demand globally and 8% in Germany, compelling some to ask: how much wind power is possible?
Additionally, as the wind transports heat, moisture, and momentum, which maintains climate, should we also be concerned about the climatic effects from deploying large-scale wind power?

To address such questions, an international workshop co-organized by Lee Miller (MPI for Biogeochemistry) was held at Harvard University on June 24-25, 2015. The about 25 international experts from science, politics, and industry openly discussed how these issues pertain to different regions of the world, while also remarking how they differ from the scientific, public policy, and industrial viewpoints.

A formalized result of the workshop is forthcoming and will be provided soon.

Timing Carbon Turnover
December 3, 2014


Mehr Wild, weniger Baumarten
December 9, 2014


Pequena, porém com precisa medição a favor do clima
March 11, 2015


Größere Artenvielfalt speichert Kohlenstoff effizienter und schützt das Klima
April 7, 2015


Schadet "Biodiversität" dem Artenschutz?
February 26, 2015


Studie: Waldschutz führt zu Artenverlust
February 26, 2015


Globale Studie zur Landnutzung: Deutlicher Verlust an Biodiversität
April 14, 2015


Crean en Palencia un nuevo método para medir el crecimiento de los bosques
June 3, 2015


Deutschland beim Waldschutz auf dem Holzweg
February 25, 2015


Verbundstudie warnt vor Artenverlust durch intensive Landwirtschaft
April 8, 2015


ATTO inauguration ceremony in the Brazilian rain forest
August 19, 2015

Press release of our partner institute, MPI for Chemistry in Mainz, on the Brazilian ATTO measurement tower, where we co-operate within the Earth System Research Partnership (ESRP)

One hundred fifty kilometers northeast of Manaus in the middle of the densest Brazilian rain forest stands the Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory, ATTO. After one year of construction, ATTO will be officially inaugurated on Saturday, August 22, 2015. The 325-meter-high measurement tower is a joint project between Germany and Brazil coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, the Brazilian National Institute of Amazonian Research, INPA (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia), and the University of the State of Amazonas, UEA (Universidade do Estado do Amazonas). In addition to representatives of these research centers, the Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Aldo Rebelo, the Governor of the State of Amazonas, José Melo, and representatives from the German embassy in Brazil will be traveling to the inauguration ceremony.

High above the treetops of the rain forest, modern measuring equipment will collect data about greenhouse gases, aerosol particles, cloud properties, boundary-layer processes, and the transport of air masses every day. "With ATTO we are achieving a milestone in the research of the Earth system. All the data that we are generating with this new measuring tower is being incorporated into models to predict climate development," explains Ferdi Schüth, Vice President of the Max Planck Society, with a view to the inauguration. As a result, emphasizes Schüth, the research arising from ATTO measurements will help policymakers in the future to further develop environment policy regulations and global climate targets.

"We designed the ATTO project as a world reference laboratory for interactions between tropical rainforests with the atmosphere. The results will provide a major advance in the representation of tropical rainforests in meteorological and Earth system models to generate much more accurate weather forecasts and scenarios of future climate", explained the INPA's scientist Antonio Manzi, the Brazilian coordinator of the ATTO project.

"In addition, Brazil-side partners, especially those in Amazonia, have emphasized that the greatest legacy of the ATTO project for the Brazilian community should be the expertise - both knowledge transfer and training - that can be transferred through the joint work between Brazilian and foreign scientists and students", commented Rodrigo Souza, professor at UEA. "We chose the location in the Brazilian rain forest as it is largely situated away from human influences and therefore guarantees relatively unperturbed data," explains Meinrat O. Andreae, Director of the Biogeochemistry Department at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, the institution that is responsible for coordinating the German contribution to the joint project. ”Furthermore, ATTO will allow scientists to carry out their measurements in higher layers of the atmosphere and more continuously than before, so that more reliable statements about the development of our atmosphere are to be expected,” continues Andreae.

From the top of the measurement tower researchers can also trace the changes in air masses triggered by crossing large areas of forest. By analyzing these interactions they want to gain knowledge about the importance of the rain forest for the atmosphere's chemistry and physics. The scientists on site are still busy installing the measurement equipment on the tower but the first data will soon be collected and analyzed. The scientists' specific aim is firstly to better understand the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. “We also do not yet adequately understand the role that the rain forest plays in the formation of aerosol particles and therefore in cloud formation. A whole range of secrets is waiting to be discovered using our new measurement tower," says Jürgen Kesselmeier, Project Coordinator at the Max Planck Society, summarizing the many hopes placed on ATTO.

Luiz R. França, the Director of The Brazilian National Institute of Amazonian Research, INPA, points out: “This fascinating scientific joint venture is a clear illustration of how a giant task that benefits the entire planet and humankind, can be developed when two great countries, located in different and far away continents, work together in symphony. Our knowledge about the Amazonian region and the earth will not be the same when this magnificent and impressive enterprise is in full operation”.

The costs of roughly 8.4 million € for the construction of ATTO and the first five years of operation are being shared by Germany and Brazil. In Germany the project is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and in Brazil by the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Government of Amazonas. At the Max Planck Society research into the Earth system is a key focus, in the form of the collaborative research of the Max Planck Institutes for Chemistry, Meteorology, and Biogeochemistry. This last institute also operates the tall tower ZOTTO in the Siberian taiga since 2006, among others around the world.

Prof. Dr. habil. Jürgen Kesselmeier
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry,(Otto Hahn Institute)
Biogeochemistry Department
Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1
55128 Mainz, Germany
Phone: +49-(0)-6131-305-6101

Dr. Antonio Ocimar Manzi
Brazilian National Institute for Amazonian Research - INPA
Av. André Araújo, 2936
69060-001 - Manaus - AM - Brazil
Phone: +55 92 3643-1968

Contact at MPI-BGC
Prof. Dr. Susan Trumbore
MPI für Biogeochemie, Jena

Dr. Jost V. Lavric
Phone: +49 3641 57 63 68

Film about the ATTO tower (youtube)

ATTO Fact Sheet

Exploring the Earth System Data Cube
November 26 - November 27, 2015

Across Europe (and elsewhere), many projects and scientists are working in parallel on the question of how to tap into the potential of a simultaneous exploration of multiple Earth Observations (EOs). The CAB-LAB project, headed by M. Mahecha at MPI-BGC, aims to support the exploration of multiple ESA-EOs (together with other relevant data streams) to better characterize the trajectories of land ecosystem changes.

The focal topic for this workshop is co-interpreting EOs for their capacity to extract longer-term transformations and represent impacts of extreme anomalies on land ecosystems. This is a pressing scientific challenge, currently being tackled on many fronts. Participants are invited from across this diverse community to explore the issues together.

Webpage CAB-LAB
Information on Workshop

Forest Health and Global Change
August 21, 2015

Post-fire landscape, California
Forests cover a third of the land surface and we rely on them for a wide range of wood and food products, as well as services like cleaning water and storing carbon. Forests are also key regulators of global climate because they recycle water back to the atmosphere for later rainfalls. In a review paper published on August 21, 2015 in a special issue of the Science magazine on forest health, researchers from Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany, and the Woods Hole Research Center, USA, summarize international research results on forest health and global change.

Since pre-industrial times, the area of forest has shrunk nearly 15%. It is currently decreasing at a rate of about 0.3% per year (an area equivalent to Germany every three years), due to logging and clearing that far exceeds the areas of re-growing or planted forests. But there is increasing concern over how forests respond to other, less visible, human impacts caused by hunting, selective logging, invasive pests, air pollution, and climate change. “Some forest functions may recover quickly, in years or decades, but others could take centuries to regain pre-disturbance levels. Many of these changes will have direct impacts on the services forests provide to people” says Susan Trumbore, lead author of the review.

Changes in forest condition are often used as a proxy for forest health. However, health is well-defined only for individuals – as the absence of disease. Although many countries carry out assessments of forest condition, researchers have struggled for decades to create operational definitions of forest health. For example, increased tree mortality may indicate a decline in forest health at a local scale, but dying trees play an essential role in forest regeneration and nutrient cycling and are therefore a necessary component of normal forest functioning. “For larger spatial scales, assessments of forest health are difficult due to a lack of common benchmarks that define what is a “normal” forest condition.” highlights Paulo Brando, coauthor of the article.

Reports of increased tree mortality across the globe are causing concern, however we lack the tools to analyze how big the problem is and what is causing trees to die. The satellites monitoring changes in global forest cover are limited to 30 x 30 meter pixels, where the death of a single tree will almost certainly go un-noticed. On the smaller scale, individual trees are monitored in permanent forest plots that track all trees in an area usually ranging from 400 to 2000 square meters. Most countries contributing to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) global assessments of forest health maintain such plots, but since methods are not standardized, it is hard to spot and attribute trends in tree mortality across boundaries. New tools, like LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), are becoming available to fill the gap between plot observations and satellite imagery of the whole globe.

“Once trends in mortality are detected, we need additional research to understand how and why trees die” says Henrik Hartmann, coauthor of the publication. Experiments at tree and ecosystem scale, embedded in a monitoring framework of forest condition, are required to develop mechanistic understanding that can predict which trees are most vulnerable and how the capacity for forests to regenerate may be affected. “Without such an understanding we will not be able to predict the trajectory of complex forest responses to multiple stressors from local to global scales”.

Forests have been around longer than people, and have already experienced some dramatic events in Earth’s history. "Forests survived a wide range of environmental changes during the millions of years of their existence. They will probably prove resilient to rapid anthropogenic changes in climate and environment, but humans should still be concerned about changes in forest condition. After all, forests can live without us, but we cannot live without them." underscores Susan Trumbore.

Original publication
Trumbore, S., Brando, P., Hartmann, H. (2015) Forest health and global change. Science Vol. 349 no. 6250 pp. 814-818, DOI: 10.1126/science.aac6759

Susan Trumbore
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Henrik Hartmann
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Paulo Brando
Woods Hole Research Center, USA

Link to the publication in Science

Large wind farms expected to slow down winds and yield less energy
August 24, 2015

A close shot of wind turbines and wind farm, image credit: Winchell Joshua
Renewable wind energy sees a tremendous growth with more and more wind turbines being installed across landscapes. But what happens to the wind when a larger number of wind turbines removes more and more of the energy from atmospheric motion?

A new study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by an international group headed by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena evaluated the effects of large wind farms on the atmospheric flow and its implications for how much renewable energy these can generate. As every wind turbine removes some energy from the wind, a larger number of wind turbines should result in a greater slowdown of the winds. This effect was quantified in numerical simulations with an established weather forecasting model applied to one of the windiest regions of the United States. The team found that this slowdown effect caused by wind turbines is substantial for large wind farms and resulted in proportionally less renewable energy being generated than what would be expected of an isolated wind turbine. What this implies is that this slowdown effect by large wind farms needs to be accounted for in the future planning of wind energy.

The researchers used a highly sophisticated simulation model routinely used in weather forecasting in which wind farms and their effects were incorporated and applied it to the central United States, one of the windiest regions on land. Dr. Lee Miller, lead author and scientist at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, describes: “When we considered only a few turbines, we found what we expected, that more turbines generate more electricity. But when we considered more and more turbines, we found that wind speeds decreased and each turbine generated less energy.” This slowdown in winds resulted in a maximum in wind energy of about 1 Watt per square meter that can at most be generated within the region, which is far less than what was previously estimated for the same region without accounting for the slowdown effect.

Dr. Axel Kleidon, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, explains that these low limits for wind energy can be understood by physics: “The atmosphere supplies the energy to sustain winds at the surface at a low rate. The more wind turbines remove this energy, wind speeds need to slow down. The combination of the two effects result in the low limit for large wind farms.”

Kleidon also agrees that current wind farms are likely operating well below this limit. Yet he ar-gues that this limit will become important for the future transition to renewable energy when more and more wind turbines are being installed. In comparison to other forms of renewable energy, he also points out that such slowdown effects do not apply to solar energy, so that more solar panels yield proportionally more solar power.

The study is published online in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on August 24th, 2015.

Original publication
Lee M. Miller, Nathaniel A. Brunsell, David B. Mechem, Fabian Gans, Andrew J. Monaghan, Robert Vautard, David W. Keith, and Axel Kleidon (2015) Two methods for estimating limits to large-scale wind power generation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (online publication)

Lee Miller
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
Phone: +49 3641 57 6223

Axel Kleidon
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Jena, Germany
Phone: +49 3641 57 6217

home page of research group
PNAS article (pdf)

Press release (pdf)

Snowball Earth: algae triggered cooling millions of years ago
August 27, 2015

Snowball Earth (© iStock/MihailUlianikov )
The advance of certain algae was probably one key contribution to an almost complete glaciation of the Earth millions of years ago. The consequent rise in emissions of organic cloud-condensation nuclei led to increased cloudiness. Thereby, they likely contributed crucially to the cooling of the climate, because clouds reduce solar radiation on the Earth´s surface. This was discovered by a team of scientists in a new study to be published today in the renowned journal Nature Geoscience.

“There are many examples for the close correlation of life and climate in Earth history,” says Georg Feulner of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, lead author of the study. “The expansion of certain algae about 800 million years ago cooled the climate considerably and probably made the ensuing global glaciations – we call them Snowball Earth events – possible in the first place. With our study we discovered a new piece of the puzzle to better understand one of the most fascinating episodes of climate history.” Currently, the Earth heats up due to man-made greenhouse-gas emissions – a cooling like in the past can be ruled out for a very long time.

Until now, the glaciations that occurred 700 million years ago after about a billion years of relative stability (the “boring billion”) could not be explained satisfactory. The new study closes an important knowledge gap. The scientists used new perceptions of the evolution of so-called eukaryotic algae. These algae are thought to be the principal source of cloud-condensation nuclei over the oceans that contribute to clouding: when the cells of the algae die, they are decomposed by bacteria, and microscopic organic material is released into the air. There it oxidizes to sulfur compounds that serve as cloud-condensation nuclei where cloud droplets can form and thereby clouds. In addition to solar intensity, the concentration of greenhouse gases and the Earth´s surface reflectivity, clouds are crucial for the planetary energy balance, and their increase can cause a cooling of the climate.

In several computer simulations with a coupled climate model, the scientists tested how much an increase of cloud-condensation nuclei due to the expansion of algae could have contributed to the cooling. The results show that the rise of algae and their emissions must have played a role in the cooling of the atmosphere at the time.

“Our model offers a plausible explanation why there hadn´t been an ice age in the more than one billion years before the so-called snowball glaciation,” says co-author Christian Hallmann of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences of the University Bremen. “The first great emergence of marine algae probably had crucial consequences for the further evolution of environmental conditions and life on Earth – a complex process whose details we are only beginning to understand.”
(Text: PIK, Potsdam)

Original publication
Feulner, G., Hallmann, C., Kienert, H. (2015): Snowball cooling after algal rise. Nature Geoscience (online)

Christian Hallmann
Phone: +49 421 218 65820

Link to the publication
Link to the Nature Geoscience Editorial An icy past

Revived oceanic CO2uptake
September 11, 2015

A research vessel ploughs through the waves, braving the strong westerly winds of the Roaring Forties in the Southern Ocean in order to measure levels of dissolved carbon dioxide in the surface ocean. (Photo: Nicolas Metzl, LOCEAN/IPSL Laboratory).
A decade ago scientists feared that the ability of the Southern Ocean to absorb additional atmospheric CO2 would soon be stalled. But the analysis of more recent observations show that this carbon sink reinvigorated during the past decade.

Breathe in, breathe out, in, out… Like a giant lung, the Southern Ocean seasonally absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and releases it back later in the year. But on an annual average the seas surrounding Antarctica absorb significantly more CO2 than they release. Most importantly, these seas remove a large part of the CO2 that human activities emit into the atmosphere, thereby slowing down the growth of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, lessening the rate of climate change. Although the Southern Ocean represents no more than a quarter of the total surface of the world’s oceans, it accounts for 40 percent of the global oceanic uptake of that man-made CO2.
From the year 2005, however, scientists pointed out that the Southern Ocean carbon sink might have begun to "saturate”. Based on model results, they suggested that it had not increased since the late 1980s. This was unexpected as one had assumed that a direct relationship existed between the magnitude of the carbon sink and the concentration of atmospheric CO2: the higher the concentration of CO2 in the air, the greater the amount of CO2 absorbed by the sea.
Now the tables have turned. Since the beginning of the millennium the Southern Ocean carbon sink has become much stronger, thereby regaining its expected strength. This is demonstrated by an international research team led by Nicolas Gruber, a professor of environmental physics at ETH Zurich, and his postdoc Peter Landschützer in a study recently published in Science.

New statistical model closes data gap

For this study, the scientists analysed measurements of the concentration of CO2 in the surface waters of the Southern Ocean south of 35°S, from which the flux of CO2 across the air-sea interface can be computed. They also compared the resulting fluxes with estimates based on measurements of atmospheric CO2.
The surface CO2 concentration of the Southern Ocean is being measured by research vessels or by specially equipped merchant ships as they travel along the major trade routes. The sampling and subsequent analysis is internationally standardised and coordinated, but data coverage depends on each ship’s actual itinerary. As a result, certain regions of the ocean are very well sampled, while there are also regions for which essentially no observations exist.
The researchers used a newly developed method based on neural networks to create a statistical model of the oceanic CO2 concentrations and then used this model to fill in the gaps. To this end, they also made use of satellite observations of sea water temperature, of salinity and of the chlorophyll content.

Carbon sink reinvigorated

The interpolated surface ocean CO2 data and the estimates based on atmospheric CO2 data clearly demonstrate that the Southern Ocean carbon sink began to revive around 2002. By 2010, its carbon uptake was once again comparable to the level expected on the basis of atmospheric CO2 increase alone.
An important conclusions that Gruber draws from this study is that the strength of the Southern Ocean carbon sink fluctuates strongly, possibly in periodic cycles, rather than increasing monotonically in response to the growth in atmospheric CO2. “We were surprised to see such large variations in this ocean’s net carbon uptake,” he says.

Overall weather patterns influence carbon uptake

Gruber and Landschützer and their team attribute the reinvigoration of the carbon sink above all to changes in the prevailing weather patterns in the studied region.
Since the turn of the millennium, the dominant atmospheric pressure systems have exhibited an increasingly asymmetrical distribution. A powerful high pressure system has built up above the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean, while a distinct area of low pressure has formed over the Pacific sector.
The air pressure gradient between these regions of high and low air pressure has caused wind patterns to change. Winds now tend to blow in an undulating pattern, whereas in the 1990s they mainly blew straight from the west to the east. In the 1990s these winds were also stronger over much of the Southern Ocean, causing more water to be upwelled to the surface from depth. Since these deeper waters contain higher concentrations of dissolved CO2, this upwelling led to an anomalous release of this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, resulting in a stagnation or even a decrease in the ocean’s net carbon uptake.

Anomalous outgassing halted

Since the turn of the millennium, upwelling has generally subsided in all sectors apart from the Pacific, halting this anomalous release of stored CO2 into the atmosphere. But the winds have also changed the temperature of the surface water. By bringing warm air from subtropical latitudes into the South Atlantic they have warmed the surface waters of the South Atlantic substantially. At the same time, the anomalous low pressure system in the South Pacific brought exceptionally cold air from the interior of the Antarctic continent to this sector of the Southern Ocean, leading to a strong cooling there.
Together, the wind and temperature changes explain much of the reinvigoration of the Southern Ocean carbon sink. The cooling of surface waters in the Pacific sector enables them to absorb more CO2. In the Atlantic sector, on the other hand, changes in the wind-driven circulation patterns are likely responsible for the higher oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO2. Normally, this sector of the Southern Ocean is characterised by a significant upwelling of deeper waters, which increases the amount of dissolved inorganic carbon in the surface layer, thus counteracting the uptake from the atmosphere. The weakening of this upwelling system in recent years now enables the upper ocean to absorb more CO2.

Future trends cannot be predicted reliably

At present, the two researchers are unable to predict how the net carbon uptake of the Southern Ocean is likely to evolve in the future. “Our statistical model is not able to predict the future development,” says Landschützer, “so it is very critical to continue measuring the surface ocean CO2 concentrations in the Southern Ocean. “This is particularly important since current models are not able to reproduce the observed variations”, adds Gruber. Hence, long-term datasets are the only reliable means for determining the future evolution of the ocean’s sink for carbon.
Another factor that is not yet fully understood is the effect of large-scale climate phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña on the Southern Ocean carbon sink. It is particularly noticeable that the reinvigoration of the carbon sink coincides with a period of prevalent La Niña conditions, i.e., relatively cool sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. The reinvigoration of the ocean’s carbon sink also occurred during a period when global air temperatures have changed very little – the so-called climate warming hiatus - possibly related to a stronger heat uptake by the ocean.

Landschützer P, Gruber N, Haumann FA, Rödenbeck C, Bakker DCE, van Heuven S, Hoppema M, Metzl N, Sweeney C, Takahasi T, Tilbrook B, Wankinkhof R. The Reinvigoration of the Southern Ocean Carbon Sink. Science, Online Publication, 11. September 2015. DOI: 10.1126/science.aab2620

Contact at MPI-BGC:
Dr. Christian Rödenbeck
Phone +49 (0)3641-57-6354

web page C. Rödenbeck

Grieving for Bert Steinberg
September 23, 2015

We are mourning our longtime and esteemed co-worker Bert Steinberg who was killed last week in an avalanche.

Bert Steinberg started at the institute in 2004 with his diploma thesis on the importance of earthworms for the storage of organic carbon in soils. Since 2006 he worked for the trace gas laboratory and contributed in numerous ways to our Institute’s research. With his know-how and experience Bert was a key co-worker helping to establish the new trace gas laboratory for the European ICOS infrastructure. In a number of contributing roles to our Institute, including as a member of the works council, he demonstrated his great dedication.

With Bert Steinberg, we have lost one of our most valued colleagues, a compassionate man, and a valued friend.

Our thoughts are with his bereaved and friends, and especially with his three little children.

Development Of Airplanes Is Like Biological Evolution, Engineer Says
July 22, 2015


Den Regenwald auswerten
August 20, 2015


Potenzial von Windkraft begrenzt
August 24, 2015


Windräder bremsen sich gegenseitig aus
August 25, 2015


Windkraftpotenzial auf 1 Watt/m2 begrenzt
August 25, 2015


Das Potenzial der Windkraft ist begrenzt
August 24, 2015


Das Potenzial der Windkraft ist begrenzt
August 24, 2015


Wenn sich Windräder kannibalisieren
August 25, 2015


"Visions in Science" conference: talk by Martin Heimann
October 7, 2015

The first 'Max Planck Career Fair' and the 'Visions in Science 2015' took place in Bonn from September 24 until September 26, 2015. Visions in Science is the annual interdisciplinary Scientific Event organized by members of the Max Planck PhDnet, the communication network for PhD Students of the Max Planck Society.

Renowned senior researcher Professor Heimann and director at MPI for Biogeochemistry explained in his talk "Biogeochemistry in the Earth System: does it matter?" to about one hundred PhD candidates the importance of the biogeochemical cycles.

Webpage Visions in Science

Forscher aus Jena: Stromerzeugung aus Windenergie hat natürliche Grenzen
August 25, 2015


Das Potenzial der Windkraft ist begrenzt
August 24, 2015


Das Potenzial der Windkraft ist begrenzt
August 24, 2015


Begrenztes Windkraftpotenzial
August 25, 2015


Maximale Leistung hat eine natürliche Obergrenze
August 24, 2015


Windkraftleistung sind natürliche Grenzen gesetzt
August 25, 2015


Viel Wind - weniger Energie?
August 24, 2015


Windenergie ist nicht unerschöpflich
August 25, 2015


Wind liefert deutlich weniger Energie als gedacht
August 24, 2015


Das Potenzial der Windkraft ist begrenzt
August 24, 2015


Nur ein Watt pro Quadratmeter erzeugbar?
August 24, 2015


Windkraft ist nicht unerschöpflich
August 24, 2015


Windkraft ist nicht unerschöpflich
August 24, 2015


Die Windkraft hat ihre Grenzen
August 24, 2015


Das Potenzial der Windkraft ist begrenzt
August 24, 2015


Windkraft ist nicht unerschöpflich
August 24, 2015


Das Potenzial der Windkraft ist begrenzt
August 24, 2015


Mehr als 357 Gigawatt sind nicht drin
August 24, 2015


Windkraft ist nicht unerschöpflich
August 24, 2015


Windkraft ist nicht unerschöpflich
August 24, 2015


Windkraft ist nicht unerschöpflich
August 24, 2015


Berechnet: Die Grenzen der Windenergie
August 25, 2015


Wie viele Windkraftanlagen sind optimal?
August 25, 2015


Forscher aus Jena: Stromerzeugung aus Windenergie hat natürliche Grenzen
August 25, 2015


Klima-Station hoch über dem Regenwald
August 24, 2015


Zu viele Turbinen bremsen die Windenergie
August 25, 2015


Mehr Windturbinen, weniger Energie
August 25, 2015


Windräder nehmen sich gegenseitig den Wind aus den Rotorblättern
August 25, 2015


Windkraftanlagen bremsen den Wind
August 27, 2015


Extreme Events and Environments (E3S)
February 14 - February 16, 2016

Cross community workshop on Extreme Events and Environments from Climate to Society (E3S)

The topic Extreme Events and Environments ( has been identified as one of nine important cross-cutting initiatives within Future Earth. The goal of this cross-community/co-design workshop is to identify and elaborate the scientific questions and associated research agendas which are scientifically challenging and of high societal relevance, in line with the goals of Future Earth.

Venue: Harnack-Haus Tagungsstätte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany
Dates: February 14th to 16th 2016
Organizers: Markus Reichstein, Dorothea Frank

workshop webpage

ICOS ERIC establishment: a strong EU message towards COP21
November 24, 2015

Flask samples (right) and gas standard cylinders (left) for sequenced analyses (Photo: ICOS-FCL)
Press Release of the ICOS Consortium, Helsinki,20th November 2015

The European Commission has officially established the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS ERIC), a new pan-European environmental research infrastructure which aims to provide long-term carbon and greenhouse gas observations across the Europe. The ICOS ERIC has been established with eight founding members: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Finland, which is the ICOS ERIC hosting country, as well as Switzerland which currently has an observer country status. The ICOS ERIC is the 12th European Research Infrastructure Consortium that has been established since August 2009 when ERIC legal framework was provided. The ICOS RI has successfully completed almost a decade long process from entering the European Commission ESFRI Roadmap to establishment of the ICOS ERIC.

Commenting on the importance of the ICOS ERIC establishment Director General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, Robert-Jan Smits has said: “By facilitating long-term pan-European carbon and greenhouse gas observations, the European ICOS Research Infrastructure will provide invaluable knowledge to support the European and global efforts of reaching safe climate change mitigation goals. It is therefore excellent news that ICOS has been allocated the status of ERIC. The timing for this is perfect, just before the UN COP21 in Paris, which is yet another clear message from the EU about its commitment to the climate targets.” The ICOS ERIC inauguration will be held in Brussels on Tuesday 24th November when Robert-Jan Smits will hand out the official plate to the Finnish Minister of Education and Culture Sanni Grahn-Laasonen and ICOS Director General Werner Kutsch in the presence of the hosting country delegation.

ICOS is a distributed research infrastructure that provides harmonised European-wide measurements on carbon cycle, on greenhouse gas emissions and on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. The ICOS RI integrates atmosphere, ecosystem and ocean greenhouse gas monitoring networks in order to provide the observational basis for a full European carbon balance and its trends. Standardized measurements are carried out throughout Europe - at tall atmospheric towers and ecosystem sites from the Artic to the Mediterranean, as well as on ocean platforms and vessels covering the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea and the Baltic Sea.

Each network is coordinated by its Thematic Centre responsible for data integration and processing, centralized quality control, network training and data transmission. ATC - Atmosphere Thematic Centre is based in France and Finland, ETC - Ecosystem Thematic Centre is based in Italy, Belgium and France and OTC - Ocean Thematic Centre is based in Norway. The CAL – ICOS Central Analytical Laboratories are based in Germany and provide accurate reference gases to the networks and perform additionally high precision analyses of air samples.

The ICOS RI’s main operational Head Office is based in Helsinki, Finland whilst its central data portal, called Carbon Portal, is based in Sweden and will make all ICOS data freely available and produce higher-integrated knowledge products.

Contribution of the Max-Planck-Institute of Biogeochemistry

Within the strong and manifold national activities, involving almost 30 monitoring stations of all resorts (Atmosphere, Ecosystems ,Ocean), Germany supports this Europe-wide activity with the provision of the network’s Central Analytical Laboratories (CAL): the Central Radiocarbon Laboratory (CRL) at the University of Heidelberg and the Central Flask- and Calibration Laboratory (FCL) operated by the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. Thereby the FCL in Jena is in charge for the provision of certified reference gases and the supplemental analyses of gas samples collected at Class1-monitoring stations. These tasks shall ensure compatibility of the Europe-wide collected data, quality assurance of the monitoring stations by comparison and round robins and will provide extensive analyses that cannot be performed with desired precision in the field yet. Therefor the FCL is linked to the scale of WMO’s Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) and designed for an annual capacity of several thousand flask air samples.

What are research infrastructures?

Research infrastructures are facilities, resources and related services used by the scientific community to conduct top-level research in their respective fields, ranging from nanotechnologies and genomics to astronomy and environment. Their development has been coordinated through the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) since 2004. ESFRI is a strategic instrument to develop the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach.

What is ERIC?

ERIC stands for European Research Infrastructure Consortium. It is a European legal instrument that was adopted by the Council of the EU in 2009 to facilitate the establishment and operation of European Research Infrastructures on a non-economic basis. ERIC endows research infrastructures with a legal personality recognised in all Member States. ICOS ERIC is the 12th European Research Infrastructure Consortium that has been established since August 2009.

Gorana Jerkovic
ICOS RI Communications Coordinator

Contact ICOS-FCL Jena
Dr. Armin Jordan
Ph.: +49 (0)3641- 57 6403

Webpage ICOS Germany
Press release ICOS Germany
ICOS Webpage

COP 21: Possibilities of independent GHG measurements
December 1, 2015

How much greenhouse gases are in the atmosphere and for how long do they remain? Which factors influence their effect on climate change? How does climate change and land use feedback on the Earth system and how large are the uncertainties?

Within the COP21 Side Event on December 1st, 2015 titled “Trust but Verify: Towards a Comprehensive Global Observation, Information, and Verification System” Prof Martin Heimann, Director at MPI for Biogeochemistry will present the scientific background knowledge to these questions. Just recently the European Commission established the pan-European infrastructure ICOS that will supply precise long-term measurements on emissions and greenhouse gases and with that provide an important verification tool for mitigation and adaptation measures.

Webpage Side Event

Köppen Prize 2015 goes to Dr. Jakob Zscheischler
December 9, 2015

Dr. Jakob Zscheischler (Copyright R. Kempster)
Dr. Jakob Zscheischler is this year’s laureate of the Wladimir Peter Köppen Award. The mathematician is honored by CliSAP for his outstanding dissertation which was conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, and submitted at ETH Zurich last year. The jury evaluated the work as methodically and thematically very inventive and at the same time trend-setting.

In his doctoral thesis Mr. Zscheischler examines the impact of extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves, or heavy rains to the carbon balance in land ecosystems. In general, the vegetation takes up more carbon (C) than it releases and thus functions as a carbon sink. It can therefore buffer rising CO2 emissions. If extreme climate events become more frequent as a result of climate change, this could affect the buffering function. For example, an increase in heat waves enhances the risk of forest fires. While large areas of vegetation are destroyed, additional carbon is released into the atmosphere. A carbon sink would then become a carbon source.

Jakob Zscheischler first developed a method to identify regional climate extremes using Earth observation data. He subsequently compared the results with the global carbon budgets and found a noticeable connection. The young scientist was able to show that the annual differences in the global carbon cycle can be explained by just a few local extreme events. These negative carbon budgets occur especially in savannas and grasslands and can mostly be attributed to drought and fires.

The award ceremony will be at the New Year's reception of CliSAP on January 15, 2016. "I am particularly pleased that scientifically a yet unexplored terrain has been discovered," says Prof. Dr. Anita Engels, spokeswoman for the Center of Excellence. "We want to encourage young researchers to pursue their own creative ideas in climate science." The Köppen Award is endowed with 5,000 Euro and allocated to young doctoral students with an excellent dissertation in the field of climate research.

More information on the Köppen Prize

Plants use only a small fraction of possible trait variations
December 23, 2015

Collage (Picture: Angela Günther, MPI-BGC)
The following text was drafted by S. Diaz, first author of the study. Our corresponding press release - in German only - can be found on our German webpages.

The idea that there are a limited number of evolutionarily successful plant traits — associated with plant organs such as leaves, stems and seeds — is validated by research published in Nature this week. In two separate studies, plant form and function are quantitatively analysed on a global scale.

Sandra Díaz and colleagues use a global data set of over 46,000 plant species to analyse variation in six major traits that are essential to plant growth, survival and reproduction, such as plant height and leaf area. They show that most variation can be summarized as occurring in just two dimensions, one of which corresponds to the size of whole plants and their parts, and the other to the so-called ‘leaf economics spectrum’, which balances leaf construction costs against growth potential. The authors suggest that these findings may inform future vegetation models and provide context for examining plant ecological strategies.

In a related paper, Georges Kunstler and colleagues use growth data from more than 3 million trees in over 140,000 forest plots across the world to investigate how three traits — wood density, specific leaf area and maximum height — influence competition, measured as the influence of neighbouring trees on the growth of a given tree. They find that traits that favour high tolerance of competition or high competitive impact on neighbouring trees also render species slow growing in the absence of competition, and that these results were consistent across all examined forested biomes. This trade-off between traits that favour growth with and without competition is thought to allow the coexistence of a spread of evolutionary strategies.

Original publication:
Sandra Díaz, Jens Kattge, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen, Ian J. Wright, Sandra Lavorel, Stéphane Dray, Björn Reu, Michael Kleyer, Christian Wirth, I. Colin Prentice, Eric Garnier, Gerhard Bönisch, Mark Westoby, Hendrik Poorter, Peter B. Reich, Angela T. Moles, John Dickie, Andrew N. Gillison, Amy E. Zanne, Jérôme Chave, S. Joseph Wright, Serge N. Sheremet’ev, Hervé Jactel, Christopher Baraloto, Bruno Cerabolini, Simon Pierce, Bill Shipley, Donald Kirkup, Fernando Casanoves, Julia S. Joswig, Angela Günther, Valeria Falczuk, Nadja Rüger, Miguel D. Mahecha & Lucas D. Gorné (2015)
The global spectrum of plant form and function. Nature (24 Dec 2015).

Corresponding Author:
Sandra Díaz
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina
Tel: +54 351 156784561

Contact at MPI-BGC
Dr. Jens Kattge
Tel.: +49-3641-57-6226

Prof. Christian Wirth
Tel. +49-341-97-38591

Original publication (Nature)
Commentary (Nature)

Neighbouring trees compete worldwide similarly for growth advantages
December 23, 2015

Forest in Middle Europe (Author: Tilo Arnhold, iDiv Leipzig)
The following text was drafted by G. Kuenstler /IRSTEA-Macquarie University. Our corresponding MPI-BGC press release - written in German only - can be found on our German webpages.

Tree functional traits have globally consistent effects on competition

Trees grow in crowds – we call them forests. Competition between neighbouring trees has a big impact on their growth. But how to generalise across the huge species diversity fund in the estimated 3 trillion trees covering all the biomes of earth, with up to 53,000 tree species just for the highly diverse tropical biome? The most extensive study on tree competition to date has revealed wood density, specific leaf area and maximum height affect competition in predictable ways across all forested biomes worldwide. Further these traits capture trade-offs between growth in the open versus growth under intense competition.

Results are published today in the journal Nature. Lead author Dr Georges Kunstler is based in Grenoble at IRSTEA, the French research institute for environment and agriculture. Data synthesis was undertaken at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. It was made possible by a Marie-Curie Fellowship to Kunstler and by the Genes to Geoscience Research Centre at Macquarie. An international collaboration of almost 40 researchers brought together national forest inventories and research plot data spanning 3 million trees in over 140,000 plots across the world.

Forests are crucial elements of the earth system and cover large areas from boreal to tropics. They host an astonishing diversity of tree species encompassing many forms and strategies. Complex interactions among neighbouring species strongly influence the dynamics of forests and their functioning as ecosystems. Ecologists have long sought an approach that might allow competition to be predicted in a general way across the tens of thousands of different tree species worldwide. The research published in Nature achieved this via so-called “functional traits” of species -- wood density, specific leaf area and maximum height. Such traits were already known to have globally consistent effects on individual plant physiological functions. The new research reinforces that functional traits can provide a foundation for predicting dynamics and interactions between plant species on earth.

Interestingly and perhaps surprisingly, trait dissimilarity between species did not soften their competitive impact on each other. Rather, traits underpinned trade-offs. For example, species with high wood density grew more slowly in open ground but were more tolerant of competition. In a landscape where disturbances created patches of open ground that then became more crowded over time, both low and high wood densities could coexist despite competition.

Original publication:
Kunstler G, Falster D, Coomes DA, Hui F, Kooyman RM, Laughlin DC, Poorter L, Vanderwel M, Vieilledent G, Wright SJ, Aiba M, Baraloto C, Caspersen J, Cornelissen JHC, Gourlet-Fleury S, Hanewinkel M, Herault B, Kattge J, Kurokawa H, Onoda Y, Penuelas J, Poorter H, Uriarte M, Richardson S, Ruiz-Benito P, Sun I-F, Stalh G, Swenson NG, Thompson J, Westerlund B, Wirth C, Zavala MA, Zeng H, Zimmerman JK, Zimmermann NE, Westoby M. (2015)
Plant functional traits have globally consistent effects on competition. Nature (24 Dec 2015).

Contact at MPI-BGC:
Dr. Jens Kattge
Tel.: +49-3641-57-6226

Prof. Christian Wirth
Tel. +49-341-97-38591

Original publication (Nature)
Commentary in NATURE

German press release (pdf)

Plants use only a small fraction of possible trait variations
December 23, 2015

Collage (Picture: Angela Günther, MPI-BGC)
The following text has been drafted by the publications's first author Sandra Diaz. Our MPI-BGC press release - in German only - is accessible at our German webpages.

Do existing plants represent all theoretically possible combinations of structure and function for growth, survival and reproduction? To answer this question an international team from 14 countries, led by the Argentine scientist Sandra Díaz, analyzed the most comprehensive global data set of essential plant functional traits ever compiled, containing plants ranging from Arabidopsis to Araucaria, from bramble to Brazil nut, from hemp to Hakea, from Sedum to Sequoia, from watercress to wattle.

In an article published this week in the journal Nature, the authors found that key aspects of plant form and function (or ‘traits’), such as the size of whole plants, their leaves and seeds, and also of the physical and chemical properties of their stem and leaf tissues, tend to combine with each other in surprisingly few common ways. If you imagine the vast diversity of vascular plants on Earth as occupying a volume in six dimensions (one dimension per plant trait considered), this volume looks surprisingly small and flat as compared to the range of possibilities that would exist if traits varied independently – in the same way as the Milky Way galaxy is not a shapeless cloud (a ‘blob’) but instead resembles a disk. Three quarters of the variation of this trait hyperspace is concentrated in a two-dimensional ‘global spectrum of plant form and function’. One major dimension within this plane reflects the size of whole plants and their parts; the other represents the construction costs and quality of photosynthetic leaf area, running from cheap, fragile, high-productivity leaves to ‘conservative’ leaves that are expensive to construct, physically robust and are more resistant to drought or herbivory.

Undoubtedly, some missing trait combinations would be physically unviable, for example an extremely large seed could not be borne by a diminutive plant. But some perfectly viable combinations, from the biophysical point of view, are rare or absent; and others are extremely common, even among species with very different ancestry. This results in a highly uneven occupation of the spectrum by species. Some ‘hot’ areas are crowded by species that converge in their trait combinations, and other ‘cold’ areas are rather sparse. “The plants that now live on Earth are the today’s winners. If one did the same exercise with the plants that lived in the distant past, it would have looked pretty different. It will be fascinating to ask how ecological filtering and evolution will further shape the Earth’s plant trait-space, particularly in the face of fast and large-scale changes in land-use and climate” says Sandra Díaz, from CONICET at Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina.

The search for simple, recurrent patterns of plant specialization underpinning the vast diversity of vascular plants on Earth has been an active research area throughout the 20th century. “However, it is only now that we can test these ideas at the level of the whole plant and at the global scale” says Jens Kattge, the coordinator of the international plant trait initiative that made the dataset possible. “With emerging global cooperative efforts, such as the TRY data base, it has become a reality”.

Hans Cornelissen from Amsterdam Vrije University says: “What I find exciting about this global plant trait spectrum is that we can now see how any particular species compares functionally with the rest of the plant world. I find it striking that elderberry, a very common shrub, is right at the heart of the galactic trait plane, while the geneticists’ pet species, Arabidopsis thaliana, is on the fringe of the spectrum, very far from being representative of the world’s flora.” Macquarie University researcher Ian Wright adds, “An important application of the global spectrum of plant form and function will be to help us understand ecological aspects of plant evolution from the deep past to the present and into the future. It will also enable a more realistic representation of plant diversity in ‘next-generation’ global vegetation models used to investigate the effects of changing climate and land-use on the world’s ecosystems”. Further, “because plant form and function critically influence vegetation effects on carbon sequestration or soil fertility dynamics, these findings may have profound implications for ecosystem functioning, now and in the future”, comments Sandra Lavorel from CNRS, Grenoble, France.

Original publication (Nature)
Commentary (Nature)

German press release (pdf)

Workshop & colloquium: communicating climate research
January 21 - January 22, 2016

Climate science: communicating basic research to society and politics

Communicating research results to the general public as well as to societal and political stakeholders has recently gained increased attention, in particular in climate research.

In a key-note lecture on January 21, open to external guests, Hans von Storch (Director emeritus of Institute for Coastal Research of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung) will highlight this topic.

The lecture will also introduce into the workshop for junior climate scientists on their role in communicating research results. The one-day workshop on January 22 will be led by Marie-Luise Beck (Managing Director of the DKK, Deutsches Klima-Konsortium).

Website of the IMPRS workshop

How Taigas may change the world’s climate
January 4, 2016

Forest in the siberian taiga, regenerating after fire. Deciduous trees gain increasing dominance over conifers.
(original press release by the FSU university Jena; currently only available in German language)

Original German press release of FSU Jena
Original publication
Press release of the Max Planck Society

Thüringens Forschungspreis teilen sich in diesem Jahr drei Institute in Jena
March 15, 2016


Klima-Messturm höher als Eiffelturm
August 24, 2015


Der Turmbau zu Amazonien
August 23, 2015


Schmutz in Gesteinsproben narrt Geowissenschaftler
May 27, 2015


Ende einer Laborkarriere
January 14, 2016


Study on rainforest atmosphere raises new questions
January 22, 2016

View from the ATTO tower over the Amazon rainforest, (c) Uwe Schultz, MPI-BGC
Press release of our ESRP partner institute MPI for Chemistry in Mainz

Our atmosphere has an efficient means of self-purification performed by hydroxyl radicals (OH). These radicals oxidize hydrocarbons such as the greenhouse gas methane and toxic exhaust gases from traffic and industrial activity, so that these can be washed out by rain. This purification process takes place mainly in the tropics. Up until recently, it was presumed that the volatile organic compound isoprene made up the largest proportion of the reactants for OH. However, a current study by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Chemistry, published in the magazine "Nature Communications" at the end of January, is now showing that, primarily in the dry season, isoprene is only responsible for roughly 20 percent of the OH reaction rate in the tropical Amazon rain forest. The compounds accounting for the remaining critical 80 percent have yet to be discovered.

Jonathan Williams, in collaboration with the research group of Jürgen Kesselmeier - a fellow team leader at MPI for Chemistry - and the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (INPA) in Brazil, studied the lower 80 meters of the Amazonian atmosphere over the course of a whole year. During their observations, the researchers were struck by an unexpected finding. A comparison of the overall reactivity rate of hydroxyl radicals with the levels of individually measured trace gases, such as isoprene, revealed significant gaps. In the rainy season, 5 to 15 percent of the OH reactivity could not be explained and this amount even increased to as much as 80 percent in the dry season.

"Previously, it had been assumed that isoprene was the main OH radical reactant in the rainforest. Our comparative reactivity measurements reveal the presence of undiscovered OH reactants which our measurement devices for single compounds could not detect," concludes Jonathan Williams. "What we have discovered can easily be compared to the dark matter in astronomy. We know it does exist, but we can't explain what it is or where it comes from. Similarly, we found out that significant quantities of unknown trace gases are present in tropical air which have not yet been identified. However it is clear to us that they must exist," he adds.

Jürgen Kesselmeier was also astonished by the new findings: "There are always surprises in store for us when working in natural conditions in an ecosystem such as the Amazon rain forest. The sheer number of already known volatile compounds emitted into the atmosphere by trees is breath-taking high. Now, we have an idea of the task ahead." Last year, the construction of the ATTO climate measurement tower in the Amazon rain forest was finally concluded with the support of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biogeochemistry in Jena. The researchers hope to be able to answer the questions raised by their current study while doing further measurements at the lofty heights of the ATTO tower. "At 300 meters, you immerse in exactly that zone in which atmosphere's cleaning processes take place." There we will be right in the middle of the rain forest to hopefully uncover these unknown chemicals," says Jonathan Williams, looking into the future.

"With this study from the heart of the Amazon rainforest, we are getting an invaluable insight into the cycle of hydroxyl radical (•OH) - a chemical species that has, amongst many others, a significant role in removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through oxidation. “ explains Jost Lavric from MPI for Biogeochemistry and adds “I am very excited to see what more we can learn from future long-term observations at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory about the climate system's behavior under changing conditions.

Background information:
There are two reasons which, so far, have led to the conclusion that isoprene is the main OH radical reactant: First, the volatile organic compound possesses a very high reactivity. Secondly, isoprene accounts for a large part of known emissions throughout the world - approximately half of all biogenic emissions are attributed to isoprene. Global isoprene emissions are roughly three times as high as all anthropogenic emissions put together.

Original publication:
„Unexpected seasonality in quantity and composition of Amazon rainforest air reactivity”
A.C. Nölscher, A.M. Yañez-Serrano, S. Wolff, A Carioca de Araujo, J.V. Lavric, J. Kesselmeier & J. Williams
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10383

Contact at MPI for Biogeochemistry:
Dr. Jost Lavric
Ph.: +49 (0)3641 57 6368

Link to the NATURE Communications publication

Meeting Earth System Research Partnership (ESRP)
May 31 - June 2, 2016

This years ESRP meeting which will take place in Schloss Waldthausen near Mainz from May 31 until June 2, 2016.

Webpage Earth System Research Partnership

Forsche Schüler am MPI für Biogeochemie
April 28, 2016

Forsche Schüler am MPI für Biogeochemie

Liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler,
Ihr seid herzlich eingeladen, am Donnerstag, den 28. April 2016 einen Blick hinter die Kulissen zu werfen und die Forschung an unserem Institut kennen zu lernen. Dazu solltet Ihr Forschergeist mitbringen und Lust haben, zu experimentieren.

09:00 Begrüßung, kurze Institutsvorstellung und Hinweise zum Programm
09:20 Wie werde ich WissenschaftlerIn? Doktoranden stellen sich vor
10:00 Projekte

Die Geheimnisse des Bodens lüften!

Der Boden, über den wir tagtäglich laufen, wimmelt nur so vor Leben. So kann zum Beispiel ein Teelöffel Waldboden bis zu 100 Millionen Bakterien, 30.000 Einzeller, 1000 Fadenwürmer und 60 km Pilzfäden enthalten. Die unterirdische "Erdbevölkerung" ist also weitaus größer als die oberirdische. Diese Gemeinschaft ist unermüdlich damit beschäftigt, Stoffkreisläufe am Laufen zu halten, indem sie abgestorbene Pflanzenteile zerkleinert und zersetzt und so Nährstoffe wieder für Pflanzen verfügbar macht. Ohne sie wäre oberirdisches Leben nicht möglich.
Du lernst hier unter anderem, woher der Boden kommt, wie man „den Boden anspricht“ und wie man die Atmung dieser Gemeinschaft messen kann. Wer ist Teil der unterirdischen Bevölkerung und wie sehen die aus? Ist das in jedem Boden gleich?

13:00 Abschlussvortrag im Abbe-Zentrum

"Schulzeit vorbei - jetzt geht das Leben los! - Tipps und Ideen, wie es weitergehen kann"
Hier erfolgt auch die Ausgabe der Teilnahmebestätigungen!
Die Veranstaltung endet gegen 14 Uhr.

Antrag auf Freistellung vom Unterricht

Radiocarbon in Ecology and Earth System Science
July 24 - July 29, 2016

In collaboration with the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry and the Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Northern Arizona University, the University of California, Irvine, will give a radiocarbon short course.
Participant will learn about the use of radiocarbon in ecology and Earth system science.

Hands-on activities will focus on creating a tracer-free lab environment and avoiding contamination in the field and lab, collecting samples in the field, choosing standards and blanks, processing and analyzing samples in the laboratory, and analyzing and interpreting radiocarbon data.

Webpage Radiocarbon Short Course


Subsurface CO2 storage: Risks for Biogeochemical Cycles in the Soil
February 23, 2016

Mofette, (c) Dr. Felix Beulig
A high concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the soil can change the community of organisms living in the soil in the long term. At the same time it changes processes in this ecosystem like the subterranean carbon cycle and carbon storage. These are the research results of a team from the Universities of Jena and Greifswald (Germany), Vienna (Austria), Oslo (Norway), the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), both Germany. The results are published in the first edition of the science journal Nature Microbiology.
For their study the researchers analyzed soil organisms and biogeochemical cycles in a natural source of carbon dioxide (mofette) and in a comparative soil. The results allow conclusions about the impact of possible leaks in a subterranean CO2 storage, which could possibly change the food web and the metabolism in the subsurface.

The more clearly the dimensions of global warming become visible, the greater is the pressure to find possible ways to avoid a further increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. At the same time the stripping and subterranean storage of this greenhouse gas is being discussed. But what would the impact and the risks of such storage be?

The result of what would happen if such storage leaked can be demonstrated by practical experiments. Therefore in the last few years a small valley in the Czech spa triangle became a kind of open air laboratory. Here is why: In this location, CO2 streams in so-called mofettes in large amounts naturally from the depths. The impact of high CO2 concentrations can be studied based on the after-effects of volcanicity, without human beings having to interfere with nature. Health spas like Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad), Mariánské Lázne (Marienbad) or Františkovy Lázn? (Franzensbad), and also the spa towns of Bad Elster and Bad Brambach in Saxony owe their existence to the volcanic activity of earlier times.

A team of scientists under the leadership of Prof. Kirsten Küsel from the chair for Aquatic Geomicrobiology of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) had a close look at the soil area around a mofette, in which the air consisted of nearly pure CO2. From 2012 to 2014 the researchers collected samples three times per year. They then compared them with samples from a comparative soil without increased CO2 concentration that was only a few meters away. “In the soil of the mofette we found significantly more organic material – remains of dead plants and animals, which are normally decomposed by small soil animals and single-cell organisms, bacteria and fungi,“ reports Dr. Felix Beulig of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, who meanwhile works at the University Aarhus in Denmark.

By means of modern chemical and molecular biological methods the researchers were able to discover the mechanism which triggered this change: The CO2 had changed the living conditions in the soil so much, that the soil animals were excluded and the community of microorganisms had moved towards less manifold but more highly specialised species. Thus the food web in the soil became less efficient in the degradation of organic material which then had accumulated in the ground. Moreover, isotopic measurements were able to show that in the organic soil material large amounts of carbon originated from the Earth's mantle. Plants and microorganisms had earlier absorbed this from the leaking CO2.

So-called 'omics'-methods allowed the researchers to take into account the whole genetic information of all soil creatures (DNA and RNA) in their analysis. Moreover the team could assess which genetic information was actively used at the time. Thus conclusions could be drawn considering those biogeochemical cycles in the soil which influence the storage and the degradation of organic carbon. “From our results we can draw the conclusion that extremely high concentrations of carbon dioxide will change the food web and the metabolism in the soil in the long term,“ Prof. Kirsten Küsel of the University of Jena and the iDiv explains. The comprehensive analysis with a combination of 'omics'- and biogeochemical methods was also pointed out by Prof. Joshua Schimel from the University of California (USA) in a commentary, which was published in the same edition of Nature Microbiology.

The analyzed mofette is an extreme habitat that was long considered as being hostile to life. As early as last year, though, the research team was able to show that strongly adapted organisms quite like it there. The new study offered insights into the complex correlations between communities of organisms and the carbon dynamic in the soil. The results of the study will help to evaluate the environmental risks of the subterranean CO2 storage.

Original Publication:
Felix Beulig, Tim Urich, Martin Nowak, Susan E. Trumbore, Gerd Gleixner, Gregor D. Gilfillan, Kristine E. Fjelland and Kirsten Küsel (2016):
Altered carbon turnover processes and microbiomes in soils under longterm extremely high CO2 exposure.
Nature Microbiology Vol. 1, Article number: 15025. 27 January 2016.

Commentary (“News and Views”):
Joshua Schimmel (2016): Microbial ecology: Linking omics to biogeochemistry.
Nature Microbiology Vol. 1, Article number: 15028. 27 January 2016.

Contact at MPI for Biogeochemistry:
Prof Susan E. Trumbore
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 6110

extraord. Prof Gerd Gleixner
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 6172

Link to the publication
Link to the comment

iDiv press release

The dynamic and role of soil erosion in climate change
April 8, 2016

Dr. Jean-Philippe Jenny
Human activities like major construction and intensive farming influence soil erosion, with consequences for the food supply, water resources, and climate change. Soil carbon may be transferred to lakes and reservoirs, or escape into the atmosphere—a fact neglected by most carbon cycle models. In a new project, Dr. Jean-Philippe Jenny will integrate lake sediment data for the last century with ecosystem modeling to diagnose and predict future soil erosion dynamics and help better assess the carbon cycle on multiple scales.

J. P. Jenny will be supported by a prestigious PostDoc stipend of the AXA research fund, starting June 2016. The project will be carried out in the group of N. Carvalhais, within the Department of Biogeochemical Integration.

Webpage Model Data Integration Group

How El Nino pushes atmospheric CO2 concentrations
April 14, 2016

(Picture by: Martin Jehnichen)
(currently only in German language available)

Editorial webpage (in German) of DKK

ERC advanced grant to Sue Trumbore on terrestrial carbon cycling
April 18, 2016

(Picture by: Sven Doering)
Within Earth System research, key processes and organisms that regulate exchanges of energy, water and elements between ecosystems and their surroundings are analyzed using observations, experiments and complex models. However, current Earth System Model predictions of land carbon (C) storage extrapolated over the next century are highly uncertain. They predict increases in productivity and C storage due to CO2 fertilization over the next decades, with effects of climate warming on decomposition and vegetation turnover accelerating losses over the latter part of the century. Getting both of these feedbacks right relies critically on factors controlling C dynamics in vegetation and soils. The age of C in, and respired by terrestrial ecosystems typically depend on processes that are poorly understood.

The overall goal of Sue Trumbore’s newly granted ERC project “14Constraint” is to enhance the availability and use of radiocarbon data as constraints for process-based understanding of the age distribution of carbon in and respired by soils and ecosystems.

Carbon enters ecosystems by a single process, photosynthesis. It returns by a range of processes that depend on plant allocation and turnover, the efficiency and rate of litter decomposition and the mechanisms stabilizing C in soils. Thus the age distribution of respired CO2 and the age of C residing in plants, litter and soils are diagnostic properties of ecosystems that provide key constraints for testing carbon cycle models. Radiocarbon, especially the transit of ‘bomb’ 14C created in the 1960s, is a powerful tool for tracing C exchange on decadal to centennial timescales. 14Constraint will assemble a global database of existing radiocarbon data and demonstrate how they can constrain and test ecosystem carbon cycle models. The project will furthermore fill data gaps and add new data from sites in key biomes that have ancillary data sufficient to construct belowground C and 14C budgets. Overall, this project is urgently needed before atmospheric 14C levels decline to below 1950 levels as expected in the next decade.

Website of the Department
Press release of MPS

Matthias Forkel receives science award of Beutenberg Campus
May 12, 2016

Matthias Forkel, former doctoral student at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, is this year’s winner of the Beutenberg Campus science award in the category „outstanding dissertation”.

His passion for the climate system already became apparent during the school years when he set up a webpage with all kinds of information on this topic. He pursued his interest and studied geography and geo-informatics at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena from where he received his doctoral degree in 2015.

In his PhD thesis he focused on the global dynamics of terrestrial vegetation in recent decades. His work strongly focused on the phenology of vegetation as observed on the one hand by means of optical remote sensing and on the other hand as modeled in response to meteorological conditions with vegetation models. Both the determination of decadal trends in vegetation dynamics ("greening or browning") as well as the analysis of the conditioning factors is a highly topical and difficult issue, in which different international working groups have come to contradictory results because of different methods in recent years. Owing to his extremely comprehensive analysis, M. Forkel shed much "light on this issue."

During his research M. Forkel established strong research links with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE) in Paris and with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California.

He recently left the institute to join the Technical University Wien, where he was awarded a Living Planet Postdoctoral Fellowship of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Beutenberg Campus e.V. accords every year two science awards in the categories ‘outstanding dissertation’ or ‘excellent research as junior scientist’. This year’s award ceremony will take place during the Noble Talk event in fall.

Forkel, Matthias, Controls on Global Greening, Phenology and the Enhanced Seasonal CO2 Amplitude: Integrating Decadal Satellite Observations and Global Ecosystem Models. 2015, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena.

Webpage Beutenberg Campus

Susan Trumbore appointed member of the Leopoldina
May 26, 2016

Photo: Markus Scholz for the Leopoldina
Susan Trumbore, director at MPI for Biogeochemistry, will today be officially welcomed as a new member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

At the Leopoldina Symposium for Life Sciences on May 26, 2016 the German Academy of Sciences will discuss current achievement in life sciences while new academy members, including Prof Susan Trumbore, will present their research.

Founded in 1652, the Leopoldina is one of the oldest academies of science in the world. It is dedicated to the advancement of science for the benefit of humankind and to the goal of shaping a better future. With some 1,500 members, the Leopoldina brings together outstanding scientists from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and many other countries.

Press release Leopoldina
Webpage Leopoldina

Assessing global photosynthesis
June 13, 2016

Assessing global photosynthesis

Public talk (in German) by Prof. Markus Reichstein, to be held on June 13th, 8 pm, in Café Wagner, as part of the SciencePub series organized by the German juFORUM network.

link to the organizer


New book on radiocarbon and climate change
July 5, 2016

Partial view of the accelerator at MPI for Biogeochemistry
MPI-BGC Director Susan Trumbore published a book on radiocarbon measurements and their application in ecology and earth system sciences, together with two other leading authorities in the field.

The specialist book is of interest to all researchers in this field who intend to use accelerator mass spectrometry. Its chapters deal with the discovery of radiocarbon, with the history and methods of measurement techniques, with radiocarbon in the atmosphere, in the oceans and on land, and with questions on climate change and how radiocarbon and stable isotopes help quantifying the anthropogenic part of the global warming.

Information on the book on the publisher's webpage

Further funding for iDiv
July 6, 2016

iDiv scientists doing field work, photo: Stefan Bernhardt, iDiv
In a second period over the next four years, the German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig will receive funding through the German Research Foundation (DFG). Established in 2012, the center has grown to an internationally respected and leading research institution in the field of biodiversity.

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry as one of the non-university research institutions closely cooperates with iDiv. Prof. Christian Wirth, managing director of the center, is also Max Planck Fellow at MPI for Biogeochemistry.

For further information please follow the links to the press releases and webpages.

Press Release iDiv
Press Release German Research Foundation
Information on iDiv

Tutorial on Deep Learning
October 6, 2016

The Michael Stifel Center Jena, cooperation partner of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, offers a one-day intensive course on deep learning.
Group leaders, PostDocs, PhDs, and students are invited to participate and to learn about applications, software, hands-on tutorial, and more!

Michael Stifel Center Jena

Measuring carbon dioxide with drones – new prospects for climate research
July 22, 2016

Octocopter measuring carbon dioxide (Photo: Martin Kunz)
During the „ScaleX“ measurement campaign, which took place last June and July under coordination by IMK-IFU (Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany), an international team of about 60 researchers, technicians, and students investigated a grassland in Peißenberg-Fendt. The deployed measurement systems included for example soil chambers, sensor-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles and remote sensing systems using sound and radio waves as well as lasers. Many different parameters were recorded simultaneously to provide answers to the challenging questions: How well do different measurements of gas exchange between ecosystem and atmosphere match? Do meteorological influences account for the discrepancies? How does the complex terrain with elevations up to 150 m within a radius of 2 km affect the exchange fluxes?

Dr. Jost V. Lavric and Martin Kunz of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena (Germany) participated in the ScaleX campaign with ‘COCAP’, a carbon dioxide analyzer weighing only 1 kg that they specifically developed for unmanned aerial vehicles. In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Richard Grant and Evan Flatt of Purdue University (West Lafayette, USA), COCAP was mounted on an octocopter to analyze the spatiotemporal atmospheric carbon dioxide distribution. Combining these measurements with meteorological data enables the scientists to calculate the night-time carbon dioxide emissions of soil and vegetation.

Unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with lightweight and precise measurement devices for greenhouse gases have the potential to become an important tool for the investigation of climate-relevant interactions between biosphere, geosphere, and atmosphere. The data obtained during ScaleX will help pushing forward this approach and validating it with independent methods.

Dr. Jost V. Lavric
Tel. 3641 57 63 68

Martin Kunz
Tel. 3641 57 63 14

Wissenschaft 325 Meter über dem Dschungel
March 22, 2016


Jena-Experiment zur Biodiversität mit weiteren vier Millionen Euro gefördert
February 16, 2016


Mit Drohnen und Laser: Klimaforschung im großen Stil
July 14, 2016


"The Jena Experiment": Spielwiese für Wissenschaftler in der Saaleaue
July 19, 2016


Besuch der Sommerschule an der Universität Jena
June 13, 2016


Dünge-Effekt durch CO2
May 21, 2016


Bäume verkraften Klimawandel wohl doch besser
March 24, 2016


21. Thüringer Forschungspreis geht an drei verschiedene Institute in Jena
March 15, 2016


Thüringer Forschungspreis geht an drei Institute in Jena
March 14, 2016


Was der Erdboden übers Klima verrät
March 14, 2016


Thüringer Forschungspreis für Institute in Jena
February 18, 2016


Boden: Kohlendioxid-Speicher verändern Stoffkreisläufe
February 23, 2016


3D-Mikroskop, Artenschutz, Schmerzempfindlichkeit: Alle Thüringer Forschungspreis für Institute in Jena
February 18, 2016


Workshop: Modeling Soil Organic Matter Dynamics Using Radiocarbon and SoilR
October 10 - October 14, 2016

Terrestrial radiocarbon
During this 5-day workshop, participants will learn about using R Package SoilR to implement soil organic matter dynamic models using different sets of observations. This workshop will focus particularly on the use of radiocarbon to parameterize models.

Participants must bring their own datasets and have a clear research question they want to answer. At the end of the workshop, participants are expected to have implemented their own model parameterized with their own data, addressing the initial question.

Types of datasets that are expected include, but are not limited to,
1) carbon stocks and respiration fluxes for specific sites,
2) soil organic matter fractions with radiocarbon values,
3) time series of soil respiration from incubation experiments that include isotopic values,
4) depth-profile radiocarbon values, among others.

For questions and participation requests, please send an email to Carlos A. Sierra (


Atmospheric scientists of NASA and MPI for Biogeochemistry meet at Ascension Island
August 29, 2016

A NASA research aircraft took a stopover on Ascension Island. On board the almost 45-year-old aircraft was a team of about 40 scientists and crew along. They brought more than 20 instruments to measure the concentrations of aerosols, greenhouse gases and air pollutants in the atmosphere.

NASA's Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom) mission is led by Harvard University scientist Steve Wofsy, well known at the institute as member of the Scientific Advisory Board. This mission's goal is to take a complete inventory of the state of Earth's atmosphere. During several flights between the northern and southern Polar Regions, the aircraft takes atmospheric profiles between 200 m and 12 km altitude. During the course of 4 years, large parts of the globe as well as all seasons should be covered.

Ascension Island was a special stop. On this remote island in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry runs a station of the Total Carbon Column Observing Networks (TCCON). For more than 4 years, this station has been observing the concentrations of major greenhouse gases. It is the only station in the Atlantic sector that covers the equatorial region. Being able to compare airborne and ground based measurements is a rare and valuable opportunity. To make sure that everything is running, the institute’s team went to Ascension Island one week before the NASA aircraft arrived. Luckily, the weather was fine, too, as the ground measurements depend on sunlight.

The air/ground intercomparisons should be continued. The next visit of the NASA DC-8 is already planned for February 2017.

Dr. Dietrich Feist
Phone +49 (0)3641 57 6378

ATom Mission of NASA

IMPRS-gBGC workshop 'Plan B – how to find your career outside academia'
November 9 - November 10, 2016

Careers in German universities and research institutes are difficult. Towards the end of your PhD or at the beginning of your postdoctoral years you need to decide whether you like to continue your career up to the professor or if you leave academia and public funded research institutes. This step is difficult to the biggest part of PhD researchers because until then they did not find or try alternative career paths.
In the workshop we will first find out which competencies you have gained until now. Based on the competencies we will explore the labour market and develop ideas of job profiles that fit you. You will receive an introduction to the job search and learn to know relevant job listings. Furthermore we will discuss if it might be an alternative to start your own business. In addition we will consider at what point "Plan B" should begin: How long can you manage to leave academia with success? The next day, a single or small group coaching (one hour maximum) is offered to provide you the opportunity to ask specific questions that the workshop did not touch. Appointments for the coaching can be made in advance or at the workshop.

IMPRS Workshop Plan B

Biogeochemical Cycles in the Earth System
November 16 - December 2, 2016

Goal of the module is an overview over the global Earth System, its major components (atmosphere, ocean, land surfaces and cryosphere), their interactions through exchanges of energy, momentum and materials, and the major physical, chemical and biological processes controlling these exchanges.
A special emphasis is given to the role of the global cycles of biogeochemical elements and their modifications in the context of global change.


IMPRS workshop on data visualisation
December 1 - December 2, 2016

This two-day workshop enables the participants to effectively create figures that add impact to their publications. The workshop is divided into two one-day modules: Principles and Applications. On the first day, the principles module will focus on topics such as understanding the purpose of a figure, choosing the most appropriate plot type, and the science of perception. On the second day, the applications module will focus on the practical implementation of data visualisation principles using the R statistical programming environment. The Grammar of Graphics plotting concept will be introduced. In this technique, we begin to understand quantitative plots like written sentences. By rearranging grammatical elements in text (punctuation, clause order), and using specific words (adjectives, adverbs), we can subtly control the message we want to communicate. The same holds true for data visualisations. Here, we rearrange layers and use specific geoms to achieve the message we want to communicate with our data visualisations.


Ein Lernort aus Lärchenholz
September 21, 2016


Im Zeichen der Lärche
September 22, 2016


Über allen Wipfeln
September 28, 2016


New software will automatically recognize plant traits
October 13, 2016

Scan of a herborized plant (Photo: Herbarium Haussknecht)
The Herbarium Haussknecht in Jena contains a large amount of plant specimens. Recently, hundreds of these specimens have been digitized and are now available as high-resolution digital images. In the context of the newly funded MAMUDS (Managing Multimedia Data for Science) project, a team of scientists from Jena and Tunisia is developing new software to automatically extract information on plant traits from these digitized images, e.g. leaf size and leaf shape.

Once implemented for the digital images from Herbarium Haussknecht, the software is supposed to be able to extract trait data from digitized plant specimens increasingly available from natural history collections all over the world. Extracted data will contribute to quantify plant functional diversity in the global database of plant traits – TRY – managed at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena by Dr. Jens Kattge. The TRY database is a largely open access global archive with currently 5.6 million curated trait records of about 100,000 plant species.

Jitendra Gaikwad, leader of the iDiv Biodiversity Informatics Group (BDU), coordinates the MAMUDS project, with scientists from the German Center of Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the University of Jena and the University of Sfax (Tunisia). The MAMUDS project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with about 25.000 Euros for two years and the same amount from the Ministry for Research in Tunisia.

Contact at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry:
Dr. Jens Kattge
Phone: 03641 57-6226

Webpage iDiv - Press release
Webpage TRY data base
Herbarium Haussknecht

Talk: Mapping Vegetation Patterns
December 7, 2016

Research seminar:

Mapping the Significance of El Nino/La Nina Impacts on Vegetation Patterns in the Amazon Basin

The detection of spatio-temporal patterns in climate-induced vegetation changes constitutes a methodological challenge that is at the center of a research seminar by Dr. Sean A. McKenna, IBM Research (Dublin). Using ENSO-related vegetation patterns in the Amazon basin as his case study, Dr. McKenna introduces novel geostatistical methods that he developed with his group in order to address this challenging problem. All interested are welcome to attend.

Dr. McKenna is this year's Distinguished Lecturer of the International Association for Mathematical Geosciences (IAMG). He follows an invitation by Prof. A. Brenning (Geographic Information Science) on behalf of the Michael Stifel Center Jena (MSCJ), a joint Center of Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry and for the Science of Human History. The MSCJ promotes interdisciplinary research and teaching in the data-driven and simulation-based sciences in Jena.

Lecture hall of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Beutenberg Campus, Hans-Knöll-Straße 10, Jena
Time: Dec. 7, 2016, 10:15 a.m.

Webpage Sean McKenna
Webpage Michael Stifel Center Jena


Record growth in atmospheric CO2, in spite of stable anthropogenic emissions, due to weaker sinks
November 14, 2016

View of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, a large terrestrial carbon sink, from the ATTO climate measurement tower.(Photo by Jost Lavric)
In spite of almost no growth in emissions, the growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration was at a record-high in 2015 and could be a record high again in 2016, at 23 and 25 Gt CO2 per year, respectively, compared to an average of 16 Gt CO2 per year in the previous decade. Atmospheric CO2 levels have exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) in 2015, 44% above pre-industrial levels [data NOAA/ESRL]. This is the highest level in at least the last 800,000 years.

The high growth in atmospheric CO2 was mainly caused by a smaller uptake of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere in response to warm and dry conditions over tropical land. These unusual conditions were caused by the recent El Niño event that lasted from May 2015 to June 2016. In 2015, the land sink was smaller than usual at 7 [4 to 10] Gt CO2 per year, only 60% of its average intensity during the previous decade.

“What we see here is the response of land ecosystems to large interannual climate variability”, explains Dr. Sönke Zaehle from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, who contributed model simulations to the study. He continues, “on average, the land biosphere takes up carbon and slows the growth rate of atmospheric CO2, and will probably continue to do so for the next years. However, years like 2015 with a strong El Niño event should remind us that climatic swings with warmer temperatures and more drought have a strong effect on the land carbon storage.”

The high in the atmospheric growth rate occurred despite the fact that global carbon emissions did not increase much any more for the third year in a row. CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry did not grow in 2015 (at 36.3 Gt C per year), with world-average emissions per person at 4.9 t CO2 per year. Professor Corinne Le Quéré, Director of the Tyndall Centre at University of East Anglia, UK, who led the data analysis, said: “This third year of almost no growth in emissions is unprecedented at a time of strong economic growth, and it is possible that the trajectory of global emissions has permanently deviated from the long-term growth trend.”

Verification of reported emissions cannot yet be done with independent data because of uncertainties in our capacity to account for carbon fluxes in the natural environment. The implication is that, at the moment, it could take 5-10 years before a peak in global CO2 emissions is confirmed with independent data.

Global Carbon Budget 2016
Le Quéré, C., Andrew, R. M., Canadell, J. G., Sitch, S., Korsbakken, J. I., Peters, G. P., Manning, A. C., Boden, T. A., Tans, P. P., Houghton, R. A., Keeling, R. F., Alin, S., Andrews, O. D., Anthoni, P., Barbero, L., Bopp, L., Chevallier, F., Chini, L. P., Ciais, P., Currie, K., Delire, C., Doney, S. C., Friedlingstein, P., Gkritzalis, T., Harris, I., Hauck, J., Haverd, V., Hoppema, M., Klein Goldewijk, K., Jain, A. K., Kato, E., Körtzinger, A., Landschützer, P., Lefèvre, N., Lenton, A., Lienert, S., Lombardozzi, D., Melton, J. R., Metzl, N., Millero, F., Monteiro, P. M. S., Munro, D. R., Nabel, J. E. M. S., Nakaoka, S., O’Brien, K., Olsen, A., Omar, A. M., Ono, T., Pierrot, D., Poulter, B., Rödenbeck, C., Salisbury, J., Schuster, U., Schwinger, J., Séférian, R., Skjelvan, I., Stocker, B. D., Sutton, A. J., Takahashi, T., Tian, H., Tilbrook, B., van der Laan-Luijkx, I. T., van der Werf, G. R., Viovy, N., Walker, A. P., Wiltshire, A. J., and Zaehle, S.
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 8, 605-649, doi:10.5194/essd-8-605-2016, 2016.

This media release is part of the Global Carbon Budget 2016, the annual update by the Global Carbon Project. It is based on the analyses published here:
-Le Quéré et al. (2016) Global Carbon Budget 2016. Earth System Science Data
- Data and figures
- Data interface for exploring data
- Prior to embargo: ESSD paper and Infographics can be requested for media purposes to
- After embargo: ESSD paper is open access available at link above
Social media:
- Infographic address
- Contributors to the Global Carbon Budget 2016 are funded by research organisations and government departments in multiple countries and supported by their organisations.
- The Global Carbon Atlas that provides easy access to the emissions data is funded by the BNP Paribas Foundation
- A full list of funders is provided in Table B1 of the ESSD paper

Dr. Sönke Zaehle
Dpt. Biogeochemical Integration
MPI for Biogeochemistry
07745 Jena, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)3641-576230

Earth System Science Data
Carbon Budget

Graphics on Global Carbon Budget
Key results for the Global Carbon Budget 2016
Press Release for download (pdf)

Intensive agriculture leads to homogeneous grassland communities
November 30, 2016

Intensive land use of a meadow (Photo by Oliver Mohr,
Meadows and pastures that are intensively managed will not only loose biodiversity but also become homogeneous with respect to their species composition.

When grassland is intensively fertilized, mowed and grazed, species number reduces on the long run. At the same time species diversity changes in a way that the same species remain, independently from the regional factors such as climate, geology, and topography.

The study, published online in Nature, takes into account 150 grasslands from the Biodiversity Exploratories with more than 4,000 species evaluated from single-celled organisms to vertebrates.

Markus Lange, scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, is one of the 300 researchers contributing to this long term study. He investigates effects of land use on biodiversity in open land and has shifted his focus over the years from soil dwelling arthropods to plant diversity and soil organic matter dynamics.

Further information is given by the press release of the Technical University Munich and the original publication:
Martin M. Gossner et all: Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenization of grassland communities, Nature 2016.
DOI: doi:10.1038/nature20575

Dr. Markus Lange
Phone: +49 3641 - 57 6168

Press Release of the Technical University Munich
Biodiversity Exploratories
Webpage Markus Lange

Vegetation and climate researcher receives Beutenberg Campus award
November 30, 2016

Professor Boland hands over the award cheque to Matthias Forkel
Matthias Forkel, former doctoral student at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, is this year’s winner of the Beutenberg Campus science award in the category „outstanding dissertation”. He will be honored for his investigations on the influence of the Northern biosphere on the rise of the seasonal fluctuations in atmospheric carbon dioxide. His work could confirm the linkage between climate and vegetation dynamics.

The Beutenberg Campus e.V. is according two science awards every year in the categories ‘outstanding dissertation’ or ‘excellent research as junior scientist’ with a prize value of 1, 000 euros each.

The award ceremony will take place at the beginning of the Noble Talk event on Thursday, December 1st, 2016 at 5 p.m.

Webpage Beutenberg Campus e.V

Mapping Vegetation Patterns
December 5, 2016

Sean A. McKenna
Research seminar:

Mapping the Significance of El Nino/La Nina Impacts on Vegetation Patterns in the Amazon Basin

The detection of spatio-temporal patterns in climate-induced vegetation changes constitutes a methodological challenge that is at the center of a research seminar by Dr. Sean A. McKenna, IBM Research (Dublin). Using ENSO-related vegetation patterns in the Amazon basin as his case study, Dr. McKenna introduces novel geostatistical methods that he developed with his group in order to address this challenging problem. All interested are welcome to attend.

Dr. McKenna is this year's Distinguished Lecturer of the International Association for Mathematical Geosciences (IAMG). He follows an invitation by Prof. A. Brenning (Geographic Information Science) on behalf of the Michael Stifel Center Jena (MSCJ), a joint Center of Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry and for the Science of Human History. The MSCJ promotes interdisciplinary research and teaching in the data-driven and simulation-based sciences in Jena.

Lecture hall of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Beutenberg Campus, Hans-Knöll-Straße 10, Jena
Time: Dec. 7, 2016, 10:15 a.m.

Webpage Sean A. McKenna
Michael Stifel Center Jena

Symposium: "The Northern Hemispheric Carbon Sink - Facts and Fiction"
May 29 - May 31, 2017

Boreal forest (Photo: Steffen Schmidt)
The scientific symposium will will bring together experts to discuss questions including
What do we know about the magnitude, trend, underlying processes, and potential future behaviour of the Northern Hemispheric Carbon Sink?
Where do we still have knowledge gaps and what can we do to close them?

The symposium is a closed event.


ESRP Meeting
June 1 - June 2, 2017

The Earth System Research Partnership (ESRP) pools research excellence across disciplines to understand how the Earth functions as a complex system and to improve the predictability of the effects of human actions.

Over the last century, marked changes in climate, air quality, biodiversity, and water availability occurred. More and potentially more rapid changes are predicted. To find solutions to the challenges these changes pose, the ESRP studies the complex interactions and feedbacks of land, ocean, atmosphere, biosphere, and humans in the field, the lab and through modeling.

The 2017 meeting will take place in Jena.

Webpage ESRP

Sebastian Sippel awarded Bernd Rendel Prize 2017
July 14, 2017

Sebastian Sippel
Sebastian Sippel, former PhD student and now postdoc at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, is awarded the Bernd Rendel Prize 2017 for junior geoscientists.

Sebastian Sippel studied geo-ecology at the University of Bayreuth while in parallel successfully completing his Master of Science in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford. In 2014 he started his doctoral thesis at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry within the department Biogeochemical Integration and at ETH Zurich on how climatic extreme events influence geo-ecological processes, in particular interactions between biosphere and atmosphere. He investigated how increasingly occurring extreme events will affect the global carbon cycle. For his outstanding geo-ecological work, which is based on the combination of observations and modeling results, Sebastian Sippel is honored with the Bernd Rendel Prize 2017. He convinced the jury by not shying away from questioning established approaches. He could prove in several first-author publications that in previous studies the rise of temperature extremes was systemically overrated.

Since 2002 the German Research Foundation awards young geo-scientists who should not yet have finished their doctoral thesis with the Bernd Rendel Prize. Sebastian Sippel received the good news the day of his defense.

The award ceremony will take place on September 25, 2017 during the general meeting of the German Geological Society in Bremen. The prize money of 1.500 euros is meant to be used for scientific purposes especially for allowing visits of international meetings and conventions.

Webpage Bernd Rendel Prize
Webpage Sebastian Sippel

Water as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
January 16, 2017

Extreme dry periods alternating with rainy seasons characterize the savanna ecosystems. Savanna in East Africa. (Copyright Ulla Trampert /
Currently terrestrial ecosystems absorb about one quarter of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. However, how this land carbon sink will develop in the future is uncertain and strongly depends on the responses of ecosystems to climate. New clues on how the land carbon sink is regulated have now been revealed by researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany: When looking at the global scale, the annual carbon balance largely responds to temperature, while locally water availability turns out to be the dominant factor. Their study also highlights that compensation effects of water availability lead to the differences seen between local and global scales.

Current climate change is characterized by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and concomitant atmospheric warming. However, the annual growth rate of CO2 which has been measured in the atmosphere for several decades varies largely from year to year. These variations originate primarily from fluctuations in carbon uptake by land ecosystems, rather than by oceans or from alterations in anthropogenic emissions. How is this carbon sink controlled, and how will it develop in the future? Discussions on whether temperature or water availability is driving the strength of the land carbon sink, and thus its variations, have been highly controversial. According to current knowledge, the year-to-year changes of the carbon balance seem to be related to tropical temperature when looking at the global scale. However, other studies find that the largest carbon balance variability is seen in wide-spread water-limited regions.

This apparent discrepancy has now been explained by an international expert team led by the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. In a systematic modelling approach, Jung and his colleagues applied empirical and process-based models, to analyze from small areas up to the global surface the effect of temperature and water availability variations on carbon exchange between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere.

At local scales, water availability is the dominant cause of the year-to-year variability of both CO2 uptake in plants by photosynthesis, measured as gross primary productivity (GPP), and CO2 release from plants and microbes, measured as terrestrial ecosystem respiration (TER). In sum, the net ecosystem exchange of CO2 between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere, termed NEE, is also determined by water availability. However, at the global scale, variability in the temporal net exchange is mostly driven by temperature fluctuations. How can these apparently contradictory results be explained?

“What looks quite paradox at a first view, can be illustrated by looking close at the different spatial and temporal variations of the biosphere-atmosphere interactions”, explains Dr. Martin Jung, lead author of the Nature publication. “There are two compensatory effects of water availability: first, at the local scale, temporal water-driven GPP and TER variations compensate each other.” E.g., very dry weather conditions lead to diminished water availability and concomitantly reduced photosynthetic CO2 fixation, but also to reduced amounts of respired CO2. In sum, the effects partially compensate each other. “In addition, on a global scale, anomalies of water availability also compensate in space” adds Jung. “If it is very dry in one part of the world, it is often very wet in another region, thus globally water-controlled anomalies in net carbon exchange outweigh in space.”

Besides shedding light on previously contradictory findings, the outcome also points to the need for a research focus on how climate variables change while scanning across different scales and under global warming conditions.
“The simple relationship between the temperature and the global land carbon sink should be treated with caution, and not be used to infer ecological processes and long-term predictions” adds Dr. Reichstein, head of the Department. With continuous global warming, the scientists expect the changing water cycle to become the critical factor for the variability in the global land carbon sink.

Original publication
Jung, M. et al. (2017). Compensatory water effects link yearly global land CO2 sink changes to temperature.
doi: 10.1038/nature20780

Dr. Martin Jung
Phone: +49 (0)3641- 57 6261

Prof. Dr. Markus Reichstein
Phone: +49 (0)3641- 57 6200

Link to the publication
Department web page Biogeochemical Integration
Blog of the co-author Dr. Chris Huntingford

15 years of Jena Experiment
February 7, 2017

Versuchsflächen des Jena Experiments im Frühsommer / Experimental plots of the Jena Experiment in early summer (S. Héjja)
For now 15 years scientists from different institutions and disciplines are investigating how species diversity impacts ecosystem functions. The Jena Experiment consists of 480 experimental plots with varying plant species composition.

Back then, the long-term experiment was initiated by Professor Ernst-Detlef Schulze, former director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. Professor Gerd Gleixner of the department Biogeochemical Processes and his co-workers are continuing to analyze how the amount of carbon retained in the soil changes over time and how it depends on plant species diversity.

Unchanged though, the field experiment group of the institute takes care of the meteorological station as well as of infrastructure since 2002. The data of the long-term measurements retrieved at the 5 meter tower can be seen on the weather page of the institute.

To celebrate the 15 years of the Jena Experiment, the Friedrich Schiller University and the German Center for Biodiversity Research invite to a 2-day scientific symposium taking place in Jena on February 7th-8th, 2017.

Webpage Jena Experiment
Weather webpage

Project on Arctic observation kicked-off
February 20, 2017

Due to decreasing sea ice, permafrost thawing and changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation, the Arctic region undergoes substantial changes with regional and global implications. In addition, human activities such as exploitation of natural resources and marine transportation impact on the environment. To monitor among other things extreme weather conditions, sea level modifications, changes in the ecosystems and coastal erosion the Integrated Arctic Observation System (INTAROS) has been launched on January 10-12, 2017 in Bergen, Norway, gathering 110 polar scientists.

Among them were Prof. Martin Heiman, director, and Mathias Goeckede, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. The junior scientist and his team will be helping to evaluate atmospheric monitoring networks and to exploit the retrieved data to better constrain carbon cycle processes in the pan-Arctic. “We already do intensive research on interpreting Arctic carbon fluxes from the ‘atmospheric point of view’, using inverse modeling and new observation programs such as e.g. a tall tower at the Ambarchik site which is located in the Northeast of Siberia.” Mathias Goeckede explains “INTAROS will allow us to expand these activities, e.g. through the installation of an ICOS automated air sampler at Ambarchik, and strengthen our links to international and interdisciplinary research activities around the Arctic. “, he adds.

INTAROS is coordinated by the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Bergen, Norway, and is one of four projects funded by the EU to contribute to the implementation of EU’s Arctic Strategy. The new project will build on existing observing systems and databases and expand with new observations and instrumentation to monitor biogeochemical parameters.

Dr. Mathias Goeckede
Phone: +49-(0)151-5110 6657

Prof. Dr. Martin Heimann

INTAROS webpage

Symposium on global trends in tree mortality
June 21 - June 23, 2017

The symposium "Crossing scales and disciplines to identify global trends in tree mortality as indicator of forest health" will take place from June 21st to 23rd, 2017 at Schloss Herrenhausen in Hannover.

The symposium is supported by the Volkswagen-Stiftung.

Dr. Henrik Hartmann
Phone: +49.3641.576294

Talk of Christian Hallmann on fossil biomarkers in Precambrian rocks
April 4, 2017

Black shale with molecular remains of marine algae. (Photo: Christian Hallmann)
Within the bio-geo-colloquium of the Friedrich Schiller University, Christian Hallmann, Max Planck Research Group leader, will talk about:

Biomarker hydrocarbons in Precambrian rocks yield new insights to the evolution of eukaryotic algae

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 05:15 p.m.

Institut für Geowissenschaften,
Wöllnitzer Str. 7, 07749 Jena, Lecture Hall

Webpage Christian Hallmann

FLUXCOM workshop
May 16 - May 18, 2017

The FLUXCOM initiative ( has produced a large ensemble of (new) FLUXNET derived global products of carbon and energy fluxes. As these data products are opening up for the scientific community, we organized an international workshop to bring together the „producers” and the potential „users“ of the data products. So far, scientists and researchers from more than 10 countries have confirmed their participation in the workshop

The workshop will focus on the potential applications related to model evaluation, informing inversion approaches, corroborating with new remote sensing data streams, synthesizing budgets, solving puzzles, etc. As we hope to have a lot of good discussions for putting together ideas, all sessions will be organized as plenary with no break-out groups.

Venue: Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
Organizer: Martin Jung

Workshop webpage

German ministry supports ATTO tower projects for climate research in the Amazon
May 19, 2017

ATTO tall tower (picture: Karl Kuebler, MPI-BGC)
The establishment of the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) as an exceptional research infrastructure, supported jointly by Brazil and Germany, has been led by Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, with the help of Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. After its successful set-up, ATTO now includes 3 towers, a research field station and permanent research plots. The large 325 m tower is the tallest research tower in South America.

The next phase of the Brazilian-German collaboration project aims at fully exploiting the technical ATTO infrastructure, to study the role of Amazon tropical forests in the Earth system and fill a large gap in global climate monitoring networks. From the German side, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funds a large 3-year network proposal starting May 2017 on climate-relevant projects in this key tropical region. The German institutions, collaborating with Brazilian partners, include:

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena (coordinator)
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz
Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg
Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz
University Hamburg
Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, KIT

Mid- and high-latitude northern hemisphere continues to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide
June 16, 2017

Prof. Dr. Martin Heimann (Photo: Martin Jehnichen)
The land vegetation and the oceans in Northern extratropical latitudes absorb from the atmosphere about a quarter of the CO2 which is emitted from anthropogenic sources. International carbon cycle experts met at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena to discuss the scientific background of this process, its stability, new developments and future trends during a 3-day symposium in honor of Prof. Martin Heimann’s retirement as Max Planck director.

Only about 45% of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and gas and from deforestation accumulate in the atmosphere, while the remaining 55% are taken up by land and ocean in about similar proportions. This global partitioning has been remarkably stable over the last 60 years of accurate observations. Since about 30 years, increasing evidence has shown that a significant fraction of the CO2-absorbing ecosystems, so-called sinks, are located in the northern extra-tropics. These are primarily the mid-latitude vegetation, boreal forests, and the north Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The characteristics and the remarkable stability of this “northern hemisphere CO2 sink” has now been discussed in a symposium with 120 climate scientists, among them renowned experts from 4 continents, at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.

The sink function of the Northern hemisphere relies on both the vegetation of the land surface and the oceans.

Vegetation incorporates CO2 through photosynthesis and this uptake increases with higher CO2 concentrations, an effect known as CO2 fertilization. However, this process is also modified by the availability of water and nutrients. Furthermore, changes in land management, in particular regrowing forests in northern mid-latitudes contribute also to the CO2 uptake by the land vegetation. Conversely, rising temperatures enhance soil respiration which reduces the net CO22 absorption. In addition, high-latitude warming fostering permafrost thawing will particularly enhance emissions of CO2 and methane, both powerful greenhouse gases. While the latter high-latitude fluxes are currently still very small, they are expected to accelerate with increased warming in the Arctic, thus constituting an important positive climate feedback.

While many of these complex land processes are still poorly known, powerful research tools have been developed over the last decades providing a much clearer understanding of individual causal links. Among these are high resolution analyses from satellite observations, global inventories using radiocarbon as well as substantial improvements in terrestrial biosphere models including comprehensive descriptions of nutrient and water cycles.

The ocean sink for CO2 has also substantially increased in the last decades as documented by an impressive array of new observation platforms, including automated measurements on ferries and freighter ships, autonomous floating devices and depth profile moorings. These new methodological advances provide a much richer knowledge of ocean carbon cycling than heretofore possible. Of particular interest is the tantalizing finding, that the ocean sink, while increasing, also exhibits much stronger decadal variability than previously thought.

Given the enhanced view of the complex carbon cycle processes on land and in the ocean, it is remarkable that overall the global CO2 sink has remained rather stable so far, at least on decadal average. On shorter time scales, however, interannual variability driven by climate fluctuations, such as the El Niño events is clearly visible in the observations. It is still an open question, whether these short term variations can be taken as an analogue for understanding and quantifying the response of the global carbon cycle to the longer-term global warming expected during this century.

A tribute to Prof. Martin Heimann as an outstanding climate researcher

The scientific symposium on the Northern hemisphere sink was dedicated to Prof. M. Heimann, who retired as Max-Planck director at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, to honor his seminal role in the research field. As a physicist specializing in atmospheric greenhouse gases, he pioneered comprehensive global climate models, established networks of defined atmospheric measurement stations, substantially improved high-precision and isotopic measurement procedures, and co-initiated the European ICOS network. Prof. Heimann’s influential role was honored in the symposium lectures of the international experts, many of whom he mentored during his fruitful career.

Following his PhD at University of Bern, Switzerland, Prof. Heimann worked as research assistant with Charles D. Keeling at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, U.S.A. He proceeded to become a group leader first at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, and later at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, where he was promoted Max Planck Director of the Department Biogeochemical Systems in 2003. M. Heimann was elected member of the Academia Europaea and Academician of the International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, received the medal of A.M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Russian Academy of Sciences, accepted an honorary professorship at Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, was awarded the Heinrich-Greinacher-Preis and contributed to the Nobel Peace Prize for IPCC in 2007. M. Heimann is now looking forward to continue his successful research as Emeritus Director at MPI-BGC and visiting professor at University of Helsinki, Finland.

Press release (pdf)

Research on clean drinking water
June 16, 2017

Photo FSU
In this country, we take clean drinking water for granted. At least 4.5 billion cubic metres are used in Germany each year – equivalent to some 120 litres per person per day. More than two-thirds of this total comes from groundwater. But how secure are these essential subsurface water reservoirs in view of intensive land use, environmental pollution and climate change? Researchers at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC), Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT), and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) are looking into this issue in the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) ‘AquaDiva’. Started in 2013, the research partnership will continue to be supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for the next four years, receiving over 9.5 million euros for the funding period to 2021.

‘AquaDiva’ stands for both water (‘Aqua’) and diversity (‘Diva’). Researchers are focusing in particular on what is called the ‘critical zone’, which extends from the near-surface atmosphere down to the bottom of groundwater aquifers. “This habitat has still hardly been investigated,” explains Prof. Susan Trumbore, Managing Director of the MPI-BGC and also a CRC speaker. However, it is precisely the interaction between this life below the surface and the physical and geochemical conditions underground that has a decisive influence on the quality of the groundwater.

You will find the complete press release following the links below.

Press Release online

Press Release by FSU Jena

Max Planck Society meets in Thuringia
June 19, 2017

Graphics (MPS)
On June 21 and 22 the Max Planck Society convenes for their 68th annual meeting in Weimar, Jena and Erfurt. Among the roughly 600 participants from Science, Business and Politics, the following high-ranking guests will be welcomed: Minister President of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow; State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Cornelia Quennet-Thielen; President of the Friedrich-Schiller University, Walter Rosenthal, as well as several Nobel price winners.

For further details please see the German version and/or follow the link below.

Webpage of MPS

FLUXNET Workshop 2017
June 7 - June 9, 2017

The Fluxnet Workshop 2017 will take place at David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, California, USA from June 7-9, 2017.

Main topics are:
-Foster interactions, data sharing and collaborations among the Fluxnet community
-Describe the attributes and opportunities of the new Fluxnet database
-Discuss status and progress of the regional networks
-Discuss and plan for synthesis of the new and expanded dataset
-Discuss directions of science and future of Flux network science

Markus Reichstein, Director at MPI for Biogeochemistry, belongs to the organizing committee.

Webpage Fluxnet Workshop

Scientists take step towards more accurate predictions of tree drought mortality
August 7, 2017

Heat and drought stress on deciduous forest in 2016 in Thuringia, Germany (Photo: Susanne Héjja)
As the number of hot droughts increases worldwide, scientists try to solve the difficulty of making consistent predictions about what will happen to plants and vegetation in the future. This is of importance for land-surface models used to predict climate change because plants take up about half of the CO2 emissions that humans put in the atmosphere. Therefore, the effect of sudden shifts in plant populations at large scales, such as tree die-off observed globally in recent decades, could affect the rate at which the climate changes. Current global vegetation models have a hard time producing consistent estimates of plant CO2 uptake, and their predictions vary widely based on the assumptions they use about how plants respond to environmental stress.

“Droughts are simultaneously happening over large regions of the globe, affecting forests with very different trees,” says Liz Blood, director of NSF’s Macrosystems Biology program. “The discovery of how droughts cause mortality in trees, regardless of the type of tree, allows us to make better regional-scale predictions of droughts’ effects on forests.”

Trees and forests are particularly important in this process because they take up and store a lot of carbon, and they also affect their environment in other ways. One idea for improving these models is to base forest responses on how trees die in response to heat, drought, and other climate stresses. But progress on this has been limited by disagreement over whether carbon starvation or hydraulic failure, the inability of a plant to move water from roots to leaves, is the true cause of death in trees.

Plants transpire large amounts of water for transporting nutrients and for cooling but also to carry out photosynthesis. Transpiration is facilitated by stomata, small pores in the leaves that also let in CO2. Trees respond to the stress of drought by closing those pores and hence reduce both water loss and photosynthesis. At that point, they need to rely on their stored sugars and starches to stay alive, and could die from carbon starvation if they run out before the drought is over.

Also as the soil dries out, trees have to suck harder to get water out of the soil, thereby increasing the risk of gas bubbles forming in their vessels. The bubbles, or embolisms, interrupt the transport of water from the roots upwards to the leaves, a process we call hydraulic failure and which may become lethal as the whole tree dries out.

A new study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, led by Henry Adams at Oklahoma State University, brought together 62 scientists from across the globe to synthesize all known research from drought manipulation studies that killed trees. They found that hydraulic failure was universal when trees died, whereas carbon starvation was a contributing factor roughly half of the time. “This study makes a substantial scientific contribution because it combines results from many different experiments in a consistent way. We can now draw general conclusions that we couldn’t make from the individual case studies” states Henrik Hartmann, scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, who conducted two of the drought stress experiments included in the meta-analysis and is one of the main authors.

The new study documents that both carbon starvation and hydraulic failure appeared to occur as trees died. “This makes sense, because stored sugars and starches are also important for preventing hydraulic failure by acting as “osmoprotectants,” increasing the tree’s ability to hold on to its water. ” says Henrik Hartmann. The study’s results help link together the theories of carbon starvation and hydraulic failure, and provide a strong suggestion for how to go about improving vegetation models and overall predictions of climate change. The interdisciplinary approach served the purpose of the NSF’s “macrosystems biology” grant program. Funding from this project supports, “predictive understanding of large-scale biological responses to climate [and] land-use change.” By forging a unified theory of the most basic question – what actually kills a tree in a drought? – scientists may now focus on effective solutions. “These findings zing in to help us improve our understanding of how trees die, which is critical to understand in the context of climate change,” says collaborator David Breshears, professor of natural resources at the University of Arizona.

Original publication Adams et al. (61 co-authors). A multi-species synthesis of physiological mechanisms in drought-induced mortality. Nature Ecology and Evolution, DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0248-x

Contact at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Dr. Henrik Hartmann
Phone: +49.3641.576294
Mobile: +49.171.8188273

Contact at Oklahoma State University
Henry Adams, PhD
Assistant Professor – Environmental Ecology Lab
Department of Plant Biology, Ecology, & Evolution
Mobile: +1 303 819 6715

Link to the publication
Drought stress experiments of Henrik Hartmann

IMPRS-gBGC core course: Terrestrial Biosphere
August 21 - September 6, 2017

This course will focus on processes important in biosphere-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases as well as methods used to scale these exchange processes to understand their importance in global biogeochemical cycles. The emphasis will be on plants since soils are covered in a separate course. If you are an doctoral researcher with limited background knowledge in biology and ecology, this is the right course for you.


Get clever about climate
September 7, 2017

Press Release of the German Climate Consortium DKK and WWF Germany

In a few weeks’ time, politicians, scientists and activists from around the world will meet in Bonn to discuss approaches to resolving the climate crisis. For those wanting to become knowledgeable about the subject before the negotiations in November, the Deutsches Klima-Konsortium together with the environmental organisation WWF Germany, a scientific association, have created an English online course on climate change: Climate Change, Risks and Challenges (#ClimateCourse).

In the online course, leading climate researchers, including Prof. Dr Mojib Latif from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, concisely impart basic knowledge on climate change: its causes, its impacts, and how it can be mitigated. Guest scientists from India, the Maldives and Africa talk about the regions that are already clearly experiencing the impacts of global warming. Helena Humphrey, journalist at Deutsche Welle, moderates the #ClimateCourse.

The course consists of six chapters, each comprising short video clips, quizzes and supplementary interactive teaching materials. At the end of the course, participants receive a certificate as evidence of their further education. The course is designed for students, teachers, scientific staff, authorities, coordinators for climate projects, decision makers, editors and the press. Applications for the free course starting on October 1 st are open now at

The #ClimateCourse, funded by the Federal Foreign Office, is a further development of the German course “Klimawandel und seine Folgen”. More than 10,000 people have already participated in this course. The German course is accessible at www.klimakonsortium. de/mooc.

Link to the climate course
Webpage DKK

Press Release (pdf)

BGC scientists (co-)organize ICDC10 sessions
August 21 - August 24, 2017

10th International Carbon Dioxide Conference, 21-25 August 2017 Interlaken, Switzerland

Tuesday, August 22
10:00-11:30 SOCOM Meeting
Organisation: Christian Roedenbeck

Thursday, August 24
18:15-22:00 TransCom Meeting
Organisation: Christian Roedenbeck

ICDC 10 meeting

Human impact on the Earth system seen as a planetary phenomenon
September 8, 2017

Classes of planets (from Frank et al., 2017)
A team of researchers devised a new classification scheme for the evolutionary stages of worlds based on “non-equilibrium thermodynamics” — a planet’s energy flow being out of synch, as the presence of life could cause. The categories range from imagined planets with no atmosphere whatsoever to those with an “agency-dominated biosphere” or even a “technosphere,” reflecting the achievements of a vastly advanced, “energy-intensive technological species.”

Their paper, “Earth as a Hybrid Planet: The Anthropocene in an Evolutionary Astrobiological Context,” was published Sept. 6 in the journal Anthropocene. The new classification system is a way of thinking about sustainability on a planetary scale in what is being recognized as the Anthropocene epoch — the geological period of humanity’s significant impact on Earth and its ecosystems. The authors say that humans and the urban areas we create are having a strong, planetwide effect on evolution.

Original publication
Kleidon research group
Press release Univ. of Washington

MP Research Group Hallmann successfully extended
September 8, 2017

Life on Earth probably originated around 4 billion years ago during the Precambrian, at a time of significant environmental upheaval and climatic extremes. How life evolved and diversified against this backdrop is studied by the research group of Christian Hallmann. Using fossil molecules in ancient rocks that are retrieved through drilling campaigns, the researchers can identify some molecules as biomarkers, attribute these to past life forms, and reconstruct past organismic diversity and evolution.

The successful independent research group (Max Planck Research Group) was recently extended for two more years. While a strong emphasis will remain on the evolution of early algae, the researchers are planning to increase their focus on the evolutionary role of nutrient accessibility, in particular nitrogen, and on reconstructing the evolution of the steroid biosynthetic pathway.

Hallmann group

Workshop "The European Mass Balance of Wood"
October 10 - October 12, 2017

Even-aged timber, regeneration in the Westerwald (photo by ED Schulze)
From October 10 to 12, 2017 the iDiV workshop "The European Mass Balance of Wood" will take place at the MPI for Biogeochemistry, organized by Prof. Detlef Schulze. Experts from 14 different European nations will try to resolve the apparent negative mass balance of timber in Europe. The forest scientists will discuss uncertainties of harvest, wood use, bioenergy, imports, and exports. On Tuesday October 10 there will be presentations by each nation, on Wednesday the situation in different regions of Europe will be discussed aiming at a final synthesis.

Survival on Snowball Earth
September 21, 2017

Green algae on the surface of a lake. (© dpa )
Green algae form the foundation of the food pyramid on Earth and provide vital nutrients to myriad organisms. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena and the University of Bremen have now discovered, together with colleagues from other countries, that the algae only gained this ecological relevance since the end of a global glaciation phase 635 million years ago. According to the researchers, novel fat molecules gave the green algae a survival edge. It allowed them to better resist the temperature fluctuations they were exposed to in their respective habitats.

Probably the largest and longest ice age in Earth’s history was approaching its end 635 million years ago. Previously, two glacial periods in rapid succession had held the globe in their grip for 85 million years. Green algae had conceivably already existed for a billion years. However, prior to the great glaciation, they were barely relevant to the evolution of life and the cycles of vital substances. This only changed with the end of Snowball Earth.

But what was it that promoted the rise of the previously unimportant green algae? For Hallmann and his colleagues, the key to the answer possibly lies in what are known as the green algae's stigmasteroids. These fat molecules, related to cholesterol, are characteristic of green algae and can be found exclusively in rock samples younger than 635 million years. Stigmasteroids are steroids containing 29 carbon atoms – in comparison: well-known cholesterol has 27 carbon atoms.

The scientists analysed rock samples collected from around the globe, deposited before, during and after the great glaciation. The result: C-29 steroids are the most commonly represented in rock samples from the late ice age and the following ice-free age. In contrast, samples prior to this contain no stigmasteroids at all. “Regardless of whether at the tropics or the poles, in fresh water or ocean sediments – we simply cannot find them before this”, explains Yosuke Hoshino, the new study's main author.

Thus, there must be something about the longer fat molecules that allowed them to triumph in a relatively short time, and be utilized by cells around the globe since then. Earlier laboratory experiments by other scientists pointed Hallmann and his team in the right direction: if cells incorporate these long molecules in their cell membrane, they become more resistant to temperature fluctuations.

And these fluctuations even occurred during the millions of years of Earth's complete glaciation. According to a model study, ice-free areas exist on land even during such an extremely long glaciation Here, the rock weathers to dust, is carried away by the wind and collects again in different areas. In the sunshine, the dark rock dust warms faster than the bright ice and in some places small holes melted into the glacier. “Oases, where numerous organisms probably collected – and which were also exposed to large temperature fluctuations”, explains Hallmann.

The new results present a coherent image of an important period in the early stages of evolutionary development: initially, only a few green algae cells managed to produce new, longer steroids, thanks to random mutations. This allowed them to better resist the temperature fluctuations in the glacier pools and reproduce more frequently than their competing inhabitants. From this point on, they dominated the world's oceans for many millions of years.

Original publication:
Cryogenian evolution of stigmasteroid biosynthesis
Y. Hoshino, A. Poshibaeva, W. Meredith, C. Snape, V. Poshibaev, G.J.M. Versteegh, N. Kuznetsov, A. Leider, L. van Maldegem, M. Neumann, S. Naeher, M. Moczydlowska, J.J. Brocks, A.J.M. Jarrett, Q. Tang, S. Xiao, D. McKirdy, S. Das, J. Alvaro, P. Sansjofre, C. Hallmann
Science Advances online; 20 September, 2017

Dr. Christian Hallmann
Max Planck Research Groupleader
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena
Marum, Bremen
Phone:+49 (0)4212 186-5820

Link to the publication
Link to the Hallmann Lab

Satellites map photosynthesis at high resolution
October 12, 2017

The image shows the monthly SIF, produced from other space instruments (GFZ/Philipp Köhler)
Life on Earth is impossible without photosynthesis. It provides food and oxygen to all higher life forms and plays an important role in the climate system, since this process regulates the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Earth´s atmosphere and its fixation in biomass. However, quantification of photosynthesis at the ecosystem-to-global scale remains uncertain.

Now an international team of scientists have made a major step forward. They used data of the NASA satellite “OCO-2” (Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2) to map the so-called solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) at a much higher spatial resolution than possible from any other space instrument. The weak but nevertheless detectable SIF signal emerges naturally on sunlight-exposed leaves, when chlorophyll molecules are excited by absorbed photons, and is a proxy for plant photosynthesis. These measurements will improve the understanding of the global carbon cycle, conclude Ying Sun from NASA´s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and colleagues in the journal “Science”. Among the authors are two researchers from Germany, Martin Jung from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) in Jena und Luis Guanter from the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).

The main strength of the SIF measurements from OCO-2 relies on their very high spatial resolution. “Until the launch of the OCO-2 satellite mission in 2014 we had global maps of SIF but at coarse spatial resolution, each pixel compromising areas of about 50 x 50 kilometers in the best case”, says Luis Guanter from GFZ. The new data, which were extensively validated by independent measurements on the ground, are much richer. “They allow us to look into relationships between SIF and the gross primary production (GPP) – the amount of carbon fixed by plants through photosynthesis – at scales never explored before.”

The authors found that one single linear relationship can be used to scale SIF to GPP across different vegetation types such as crops, forests and grasslands, which contradicts previous findings obtained with low-resolution data. This offers an exciting topic for further research. “Precise measurement of the solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence, derived from OCO-2 – but also from follow-on missions such as the European Sentinel-5P, which will be launched coincidentally now on October 13th – enables scientists to quantify gross primary production and its contribution to the global carbon cycle”, says Guanter.

“With such improved satellite data we can for the first time combine global SIF observations with in-situ ecosystem scale data of gross carbon uptake. This has great potential to improve our global data-driven estimates of photosynthesis and other fluxes between land and atmosphere that are relevant for the Earth System” says Martin Jung from MPI-BGC.

This is a joint release by the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) Jena.

Original study:
Y. Sun, C. Frankenberg, D.S. Schimel, D.T. Drewry, T.S. Magney, K. Yuen, C. Frankenberg, P. Köhler, M. Jung, L. Guanter, D.T. Drewry, M. Verma, A. Porcar-Castell, T.J. Griffis, L. Gu, B. Evans, 2017. "OCO-2 advances photosynthesis observation from space via solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence," Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam5747

Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam – German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)
Josef Zens, Head of Media Relations
Phone: +49 331 / 288-1040

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC), Jena
Eberhard Fritz, Research Coordinator, Head Media Relations
Phone: +49 3641 / 57-6800

Apprentice Johanna Fehling received MPG award
September 22, 2017

Johnanna Fehling
Finishing school with the best marks of her year, Johanna supported personnel, accounting and business travel within BGC administration. For her very good overall performance, including bilingual support, she was one out of 19 Max Planck-wide awardees of the Apprentice Award 2017. Following up on her successful vocational training, she now continues to support BGC administration.

Exploring the Earth system: academy for high school pupils
September 22, 2017

Picture rights: Jugendbildung in Gesellschaft und Wissenschaft e.V. (JGW)
BGC scientists Guido Kraemer and Sebastian Sippel introduced into Earth system research within a sustainability module of the Deutsche SchülerAkademie (August 19 – September 2, 2017). They explained data and models as well as different concepts of Earth system research, and they supervised students in concrete projects addressing climate-relevant questions.

The Deutsche SchülerAkademie, supported among others by the German Ministry for Research and Education, aims at promoting and stimulating highly talented high school pupils in a variety of disciplines.

Nachhaltigkeitsakademie (Sustainability Academy)
Deutsche SchülerAkademie (German School Students Academy)

Workshop on building research at the ATTO Tower
October 16, 2017

View from the ATTO Tower (Picture credit: Karl Kübler)
About 50 scientists of different nationalities gathered in Manaus (Brazil) for two days at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) to present their work related to the Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) and plan future joint research at the ATTO site to strengthen the scientific collaboration.

The workshop participants agreed to produce a new science plan that integrates research on energy, water, aerosols, and greenhouse gases exchange between the central Amazon forests and the atmosphere, and explores the role of volatile organics and trace gases on cloud formation and atmospheric chemistry. Over the next 20 years, ATTO scientists will provide new understanding of the role of the Amazon forest in the global climate system and its response to changing climate.

Dr. Carlos Alberto Quesada from INPA was introduced at the meeting as the new coordinator of the ATTO project on the Brazilian side. He sees the need of a training and education program with the objective of creating a new generation of researchers.

Prof. Susan Trumbore, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, has taken over the project coordination on the German side, led until mid-2017 by Jürgen Kesselmeier from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. She hopes to improve integration between the participating countries as well as the different scientific disciplines such as physics, chemistry and biology.

In 2009, a joint German-Brazilian project was started under the name “ATTO,” the Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory with the aim of providing groundbreaking findings and foundations for improving climate models. With a height of 325 meters, the tall tower operates since 2015 high above the rainforest and collects information on forest-atmosphere exchange from an area of several hundreds of square kilometers. It is located at the center of the world’s largest continuous tropical forest area. The tower is equipped with devices to measure various greenhouse gases, reactive trace gases, and aerosols as well as micrometeorological data. ATTO is with its tall tower, the associated research infrastructure and nearby scientific plots a unique interdisciplinary scientific platform in a region of global significance. Amazon forests are responsible for nearly 15% of global photosynthesis and contain 40% of living biomass . They have an enormous influence on the water cycle and regional as well as the global climate.

Prof. Susan E. Trumbore, PhD
Managing Director, ATTO Coordinator Germany
Phone:+49 3641 57 6110

Dr. Jošt V. Lavrič
Phone:+49 3641 57 63 68

Nearly nine billion more tonnes of CO2 through El Niño
October 19, 2017

Im Dezember 2015 waren die Wassertemperaturen im östlichen und zentralen Pazifik durch El Niño deutlich erhöht. (Quelle: NASA)
The climate phenomenon known as El Niño occurs in the Pacific every four years on average. During El Niño years, the already increasing levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2)in the atmosphere, rise even more. With the help of satellite data and ground measuring stations, scientists have now determined that an additional 8.8 billion tonnes of CO2 entered the atmosphere in 2015/2016 as a result of the El Niño effect. This is equivalent to a quarter of all annual anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The researchers blame the drought caused by El Niño in the southern hemisphere, which weakens vegetation so that it absorbs less CO2 than usual.

El Niño is a natural climate phenomenon that alters the water temperatures and ocean currents in the equatorial Pacific at irregular intervals, about once every two to seven years. This has an enormous impact on the weather across the entire southern hemisphere. While some areas must contend with massive rainfall, others suffer from drought. El Niño even affects the weather in the northern hemisphere.

It has long been known that an El Niño event releases large amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. However, the extent of the additional CO2 release has so far only been incompletely quantified, as CO2 measurements could only be taken from a few ground stations. During the last El Niño in 2015/16, the third most powerful since the middle of the 20th century, scientists were aided by satellites, which can continuously measure atmospheric CO2 from space.

Additional CO2 release by El Niño has been incompletely numbered so far

Armed with these data, an international research team, which included researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, calculated that the 2015/16 El Niño resulted in the additional release of around 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon or 8.8 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is equivalent to about a quarter of the amount released each year by human activities. To put this in perspective, around 0.8 billion tonnes of CO2 from fossil fuels were emitted in Germany in 2015.

Dietrich Feist, scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, explains the significance of the study: “Our findings are important because we can now estimate the magnitude of natural fluctuations in greenhouse gas concentrations in relation to man-made changes.” The researcher from Jena operates a station for measuring atmospheric trace gases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic. It is currently the only station available in the equatorial region for checking the satellite data.

CO2 emissions caused by fire are subordinate with respect to the carbon content of the atmosphere

Previously, estimates of the rise in carbon dioxide relied mainly on observations of drought-induced peat, bush and forest fires, which occur more frequently during El Niño years. Earlier satellite data, however, did not agree with the new figures: based on the thermal radiation from fires and the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide content of smoke trails, scientists had calculated “only” about 0.75 to 1.2 billion tonnes of additional CO2 emissions during the El Niño in 2015/16. The new figure of 8.8 billion tonnes of additional carbon dioxide therefore suggests that emissions generated by fires have only a subsidiary effect on the carbon content of the atmosphere. It is very likely that drought-stricken vegetation in the southern hemisphere is unable to absorb as much CO2 as usual. The researchers expect that this vegetation effect will be reversed in subsequent years by increased plant growth.

Increasing plant growth will compensate for the weakened vegetation

Johannes Kaiser of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, adds: “Even though the El Niño effect appears to be reversible, we were able to show in previous studies that up to one billion tonnes of CO2 irreversibly escape into the atmosphere from peat fires every year. These fires are clearly man-made due to the expansion of palm and wood-fibre plantations in Indonesia and can surpass the carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning of entire industrialized nations.” Kaiser and his team have been analyzing satellite-based observations of vegetation fires since 2012. He helped design the recently published study and presented the data on fire-related carbon emissions.

In addition to the scientists from Mainz and Jena, researchers from Japan, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Belgium participated in the study. They used complex computer models as well as data from the American NASA satellite OCO-2 and the Japanese JAXA satellite GOSAT, both of which measure the carbon dioxide content of the Earth’s atmosphere. Data from the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON), a network of measuring stations which includes the one on Ascension Island, were also used, as well as emission estimates from the Global Fire Assimilation System (GFAS), a system that compiles fire-related emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols in near real-time.

Original publication:
Patra et al. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) tracks 2-3 peta-gram increase in carbon release to the atmosphere during the 2014-2016 El Niño. Nature Scientific Reports, 2017.

Adfditional scientific literature:
J. Heymann, M. Reuter, M. Buchwitz, O. Schneising, H. Bovensmann, J. P. Burrows, S. Massart, J. W. Kaiser, and D. Crisp. CO2 emission of Indonesian fires in 2015 estimated from satellite-derived atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Geophysical Research Letters, 44(3):1537–1544, 2017. 2016GL072042.

J. W. Kaiser, G. R. van der Werf, and A. Heil. Biomass burning [in ”State of the Climate in 2015”]. BAMS, 97(8):S60–S62, 2016.

V. Huijnen, M. J. Wooster, J. W. Kaiser, D. L. A. Gaveau, J. Flemming, M. Parrington, A. Inness, D. Murdiyarso, B. Main, and M. van Weele. Fire carbon emissions over maritime southeast Asia in 2015 largest since 1997. Nature Scientific Reports, 6:26886, 2016.

Dr. Johannes W. Kaiser
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz

Dr. Dietrich Feist
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena
Phone: +49 (0)3641- 576378

Link to the publication

Uniting for Climate Action - Briefing about the World Climate Conference 2017
October 20, 2017

Sorry, but this press release is only available in German language.

Presseinformation des Bundesumweltministeriums, des Auswärtigen Amts und des Deutschen Klima-Konsortiums

In gut zwei Wochen trifft sich die ganze Welt der internationalen Klimadiplomatie zur COP 23 in Bonn. Heute informieren Expertinnen und Experten aus der Politik im Bundesumweltministerium über die dort stattfindende Verhandlungsrunde und diskutieren, welche konkreten Aufgaben und Ziele anstehen. Während der zweiwöchigen Klimakonferenz unter der Präsidentschaft der Fidschi-Inseln geht es darum, das Regelwerk zum Übereinkommen von Paris in Bezug auf die nationalen Klimaziele so zu konkretisieren, sodass es beim Klimagipfel 2018 in Polen verabschiedet werden kann. Das diesjährige Briefing unter dem Motto „Uniting for Climate Action – Paris entschlossen umsetzen“ beleuchtet außerdem Schlüsselfragen der bereits stattfindenden Transformation hin zu einer klimaverträglichen und nachhaltigen Gesellschaft aus wissenschaftlicher, politscher und ökonomischer Sicht. Noch stehen das Beharren auf alten fossilen Strukturen und eine Aufbruchsstimmung in eine kohlenstoffarme Wirtschaft nebeneinander – global und in den einzelnen Ländern. Prof. Gernot Klepper zeigt, dass die Unternehmen die Chancen der Transformation jetzt nutzen sollten, um zukunftsfähig zu bleiben. Ohne Unterstützung durch neue politische Rahmenbedingungen wird es nicht gehen. Fragen der Anpassungsfinanzierung, die sich im Jahr der Wetterextreme 2017 besonders dringlich stellen, werden insbesondere mit Blick auf die Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländer aufgeworfen. Als eine Option zur Anpassung an den Klimawandel werden Mikroversicherungen etwa bei Ernteausfällen vorgestellt. Mehr als 200 Besucher aus dem Diplomatischen Corps, Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft und Zivilgesellschaft tauschen sich bei der gemeinsamen Veranstaltung des Auswärtigen Amts, des Bundesministeriums für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit und des Wissenschaftsverbands Deutsches Klima-Konsortium aus.

Die vollständige Pressemitteilung erhalten Sie unter nachstehendem Link.

Das Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie in Jena ist Partner im Deutschen Klima Konsortium.

Prof. Dr. Martin Heimann, ehemaliger Direktor am MPI für Biogeochemie und Emeritus, ist einer der auskunftsbereiten wissenschaflichen Experten, die beim Informationsdienst Wissenschaft gelistet sind, um Journalistenfragen zu Themengebieten der COP23 zu beantworten.

Link to the German Climate Consortium

Link to the press release (pdf; in German)

Hitzestress tötet Bäume
August 18, 2017


Im Trockenstress: Jenaer Forscher untersucht Ursache des Baumsterbens
August 19, 2017


Stockender Wassertransport setzt Bäumen zu
August 18, 2017


2nd BACI Progress and review meeting
November 21 - November 23, 2017

BACI Webpage

IMPRS-gBGC Recruitment Symposium
November 2, 2017

IMPRS Webpage

Stabilizing the climate, modernizing Germany
November 9, 2017

This press release is only availble in German so far.

Die Klimakonferenz in Bonn sendet auch eine Botschaft nach Berlin, wo jetzt die Parteien über die Bildung einer neuen Bundesregierung verhandeln – das erklärten am Donnerstag führende Forscher, die im Deutschen Klima-Konsortium (DKK) zusammengeschlossen sind. Die Auswirkungen des Klimawandels seien bereits heute spürbar, Deutschland solle zur Verringerung der Treibhausgase den Ausstieg aus der Kohleverstromung beginnen, heißt es in einer von den Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern veröffentlichten gemeinsamen Erklärung.

Berlin, 9. November 2017 – „Mit stabilisiertem Klima kann es auch mehr Stabilität in der Welt geben“, heißt es in der Stellungnahme des Wissenschaftsverbandes DKK. „Wetterextreme und Meeresspiegelanstieg bedrohen Menschenleben, Natur sowie Hab und Gut. Risiken für weltweite Lieferketten oder zunehmende Migration sind weitere Folgen. Das trifft auch Deutschland. Klimaschutz ist Teil einer präventiven Politik für Stabilität und Sicherheit. Damit die weltweite Klimastabilisierung gelingt, wie im Pariser Klimaabkommen vereinbart, braucht es nationale Vorbilder wie Deutschland, das sich große Verdienste beim Voranbringen des Klimaschutzes erworben hat – und umfassende Klimaforschung. Klimaschutz sichert Deutschlands Rolle als technologischer Vorreiter und Exportnation.“

Kohleausstieg beginnen
In Deutschland sind die Emissionen in den vergangenen acht Jahren nicht gesunken – trotz des Ausbaus der Erneuerbaren Energien, die 2016 schon 29 Prozent am Strommix ausmachten. „Ohne Kohleausstieg wird Deutschland das Klimaziel 2020 drastisch verfehlen – voraussichtlich werden die Treibhausgasemissionen nur um 32 statt um die versprochenen 40 Prozent verringert. Die verantwortlichen Politiker müssen die kommende Legislaturperiode nutzen, um nachzusteuern. Der Kohleausstieg ist dafür der erste notwendige Schritt“, sagte Mojib Latif bei der öffentlichen Vorstellung der Stellungnahme in Berlin. Er ist Vorstandsvorsitzender des Deutschen Klima-Konsortiums und forscht am GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung in Kiel. Latif weiter: „Ohne eine weltweite Abkehr von der Kohleverstromung kann das Ziel des Pariser Übereinkommens, die Erderwärmung auf unter zwei Grad zu begrenzen, nicht eingehalten werden.“

Mit stabilisiertem Klima kann es auch mehr Stabilität in der Welt geben
Schon die heutige Erderwärmung um bereits ein Grad globale Mitteltemperatur hat auf der ganzen Erde spürbare Auswirkungen. „Wetterextreme nehmen zu und treffen auch uns in Deutschland, etwa Starkregen“, sagte Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Direktor des Potsdam-Instituts für Klimafolgenforschung. „Gerade in ärmeren Ländern aber können Dürren, Fluten oder Wirbelstürme ganze Folgenkaskaden auslösen, wie die Forschung zeigt. In Puerto Rico zum Beispiel hat einer der verheerenden Hurrikane dieses Herbstes innerhalb von Stunden die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung von Jahren zunichte gemacht, auch die Gesundheitsversorgung dort wurde heftig getroffen. Solche Extremereignisse lassen natürlich auch Migration zunehmen. Die Koalitionsverhandler in Berlin haben es in der Hand, ob sie dem Klimachaos noch weiter die Tür öffnen – oder für Deutschland und die Welt Stabilität sichern.“

Meeresspiegelanstieg bedroht die Fidschi-Inseln
Mit der Republik Fidschi hat erstmals ein kleiner Inselstaat die Präsidentschaft des Weltklimagipfels inne. Damit rücken die Anliegen und Bedürfnisse der besonders verletzlichen und wenig entwickelten Staaten in den Fokus. „Inselstaaten wie die Republik Fidschi sind besonders vom Meeresspiegelanstieg betroffen, da sie sehr flach im Pazifik liegen. Zusätzlich steigen in dieser Region die Pegel seit Beginn der Satellitenmessungen 1992 doppelt so schnell wie im globalen Durchschnitt“, sagte Monika Rhein, Ozeanografin an der Universität Bremen. „Der Meeresspiegel wird weiter ansteigen und bedroht auch viele große Küstenstädte. Wir können aber durch eine nachhaltige Klimapolitik steuern, wie stark der Anstieg ausfallen wird.“

Den CO2-Preis als Beschleuniger der Energiewende nutzen
Das Ziel von Paris ist nur zu erreichen, wenn die weltweiten Energiesysteme konsequent umgebaut werden. „Neben einem freien Markt braucht es neue gesetzliche und wirtschaftspolitische Rahmenbedingungen. Sie können Unternehmen und Verbrauchern die nötigen Anreize bieten, damit sie ihren Energie- und Ressourcenverbrauch möglichst schnell reduzieren. Das zentrale Element, das Ökonomen schon lange fordern, ist ein Preis für die Emissionen von Treibhausgasen, allgemein als CO2-Preis bekannt. Ein solcher Preis ist der dringend benötigte Beschleuniger der Energiewende in Deutschland und weltweit. Auch ohne ihn ist die Energiewende bereits auf dem Weg, aber sie ist viel zu langsam“, sagte Gernot Klepper, Klimaökonom am Institut für Weltwirtschaft in Kiel.

Über das Deutsche Klima-Konsortium
Das DKK ist ein Wissenschaftsverband und vertritt führende Akteure der deutschen Klimaforschung und Klimafolgenforschung. Dazu gehören Universitäten, außeruniversitäre Forschungseinrichtungen und Bundesbehörden. Das DKK steht für wissenschaftsbasierte Politikberatung, greift aktuelle Themen auf und liefert Hintergründe aus Expertensicht.

Elisabeth Weidinger, Referentin für Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, DKK
Tel.: 030-767718694 | E-Mail:

Complete statement on DKK Webpage

GIS Day at FSU
November 25, 2017

GIS - geographic information systems -
at Institut für Geographie, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Organisation: Lehrstuhl für Geoinformatik

Short presentations, poster exhibits, info booths; including lecture by BGC scientist M. Mahecha

Venue: Rosensäle, Großer Sitzungssaal + Seminarraum, Fürstengraben 27

FSU webpage


Director Susan Trumbore honored for her pioneering work in Earth and environmental sciences
November 10, 2017

Prof. Susan E. Trumbore (Copyright: Markus Scholz)
The Franklin Institute is honored to announce the names of eight remarkable individuals who will be recognized in Philadelphia next April with prestigious Franklin Institute Awards. Prof. Susan Trumbore, director at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and head of the department Biogeochemical Processes, is among the awardees. She is honored for her pioneering use of radiocarbon measurements in forests and soils to assess the flow of carbon between the biosphere and atmosphere, with implications for the understanding of future climate change.

Webpage The Franklin Institute, Awards
Press Release of The Franklin Institute

Tracking down anthropogenic emissions at COP23
November 10, 2017

German Science Hour with Julia Marshall (Copyright Friedemann Call, DLR-Projektträger)
Can we learn more about anthropogenic emissions through atmospheric measurements of trace gases like carbon dioxide? This was the question addressed on Thursday, November 9, 2017 by Julia Marshall, scientific group leader at MPI for Biogeochemistry, during a session at COP23. Alongside Werner Kutsch of the international Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) network and Gerhard Ehret of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), she presented at the “German Science Hour” on the topic “The Fate of Greenhouse Gases: the Knowns and the Unknowns”.

The German Science Hour is an event organized by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) taking place daily at the German Pavilion during the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany. The German Science Hour aims at strengthening the science-policy dialogue at COP23 by presenting state-of-the-art climate research in an entertaining way.

Julia Marshall’s contribution, entitled “Tracking down anthropogenic emissions”, was focused on the use of inverse or top-down modeling to separate the anthropogenic signals from the much larger biogenic fluxes. “Because these signals have a different spatial distribution, high resolution measurements can help, such as those that might be provided by imager-type satellites,” Marshall explains. She hopes such measurements will become available over the next decade, as the European Commission is currently considering adding a constellation of such imager satellites to its Sentinel programme of operational satellites.

Marshall is involved in this proposed mission both through her role as an advisor on the CO2 Monitoring Task Force convened by the European Space Agency (ESA) and through two related ESA-funded studies. She also participates in the linked EU-H2020 project CHE (CO2 Human Emissions). CHE aims to develop the modeling framework to deal with these potential new measurements, combined with surface-based measurements of additional tracers that can help trace atmospheric signals to specific surface processes, such as fossil fuel combustion.

Julia Marshall, PhD
Phone: +49 (0)3641 576383

Webpage on the German Science Hour

Tina Trautmann awarded for Master’s thesis
November 10, 2017

Tina Trautmann
In her work at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Tina Trautmann adapted a simple hydrological model to various satellite-based measurements such as the amount of snow and the terrestrial reservoir. She then used this model to study the spatial and temporal variability of water reservoirs in the snow-influenced northern latitudes. The fundamental questions were to what extent a simple model is able to map the observed patterns of hydrological variables and how the uncertainties of the observation data are best considered in the model optimization. For this purpose, the young scientist tested various modeling approaches and methods of model optimization in order to finally select the most suitable one.

Every year, the Friedrich Schiller University honors its best graduates. The exam prizes are awarded by the different faculties and are endowed with 250 € each.

The title of the master thesis is 'Macroscopic diagnostic modeling of the hydrological cycle: Understanding the dynamics of water pools in snow affected regions.' Mrs. Trautmann continues her studies as part of a doctoral thesis in the Department of Biogeochemical Integration at the MPI for Biogeochemistry.

Press Release of FSU

Workshop Thermodynamics and Optimality in Earth Systems
November 21 - November 22, 2017

In a two-day workshop Earth system scientists will meet to discuss about thermodynamics of our planet with a focus on energy flows of the biosphere and hydrosphere.

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
November 17, 2017

(Copyright: iDiv)
iDiv media release

Forests fulfil numerous important functions, and do so particularly well if they are rich in different species of trees. This is the result of a new study. In addition, forest managers do not have to decide on the provision of solely one service – such as wood production or nature conservation – as a second study demonstrates: several services provided by forest ecosystems can be improved at the same time. Both studies were led by scientists from Leipzig University and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), and published in the prestigious journal Ecology Letters.

Forests are of great importance to humans: the wood grown in forests is used in our houses for furniture, roof timbers and flooring; forests store carbon from the air and thus counteract climate change, they help prevent soil erosion and regulate the water cycle. Also when we go for a walk in a forest, we use it for recreation. The basis for these benefits are functions that constantly take place in a forest: the trees carry out photosynthesis, grow, produce offspring, defend themselves against hungry insects and deer, fight off pathogens and protect themselves against drought. Nutrients are taken up by the trees and are then released when the trees die and are decomposed.

A new study, led by researchers from Leipzig University and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), demonstrates that many of these ecosystem functions perform better in forests with a higher level of biodiversity, i.e., when forests are made up of multiple rather than just a single tree species. As part of the European-wide research project “FunDivEUROPE” the researchers investigated the importance of biodiversity for forest functioning in six countries across Europe: Germany, Finland, Poland, Romania, Italy and Spain. Within forested regions, the scientists selected plots that varied in the number of tree species, from one to five species. In Germany, for example, mixtures consisted of beech, oak, Norway spruce, birch and hornbeam. The researchers then measured 26 functions in these plots that are relevant to nutrient and carbon cycles, the growth and resilience of the trees, and forest regeneration. Their findings show that when trees inhabit forests with many tree species, they grow at a faster rate, store more carbon and are more resistant to pests and diseases than trees in species-poor forests. “Therefore, converting forest monocultures to multi-species forests should generally result in a higher delivery of ecosystem goods and services to humans”, says Sophia Ratcliffe, who has led the study at Leipzig University.

The findings of this research also indicate that the positive correlation between tree diversity and forest functioning is strongest in regions where water for the trees is scarce and the growing seasons are longer, i.e., in southern and central Europe. Christian Wirth, Head of the Department for Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity at Leipzig University, Managing Director of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, explains why this is important: “Our summers will be drier and longer as a result of climate change. We therefore presume that, in the future, it will be even more important to manage forests in a way that they have a high diversity of tree species.”

Another study shows that for forest managers, it is not necessary to concentrate on one particular ecosystem service that they would like to improve in forests. This study was also carried out in the same six woodland areas and with significant contribution of the researchers from Leipzig. The scientists have carefully examined 28 ecosystem functions and have addressed the following question: if an ecosystem function in a forest is particularly high, then does this negatively affect any other ecosystem function? The answer is “no”; according to the findings of the investigation – in a forest, several functions can be simultaneously high.

This has practical implications for the management of forests, Fons van der Plas, the first author of the study, says: “In recent years, scientists have become increasingly interested in how one could promote so-called ecosystem multifunctionality, the simultaneous provisioning of multiple ecosystem services. Our study has shown that ecosystem multifunctionality is not just a theoretical concept, but that it is valid in forests throughout Europe, as the promotion of one type of service can go hand-in-hand with the promotion of other types of services.” The researchers have also found, however, that in many cases forest multifunctionality could be increased – a huge potential for forest management. (Tabea Turrini)

Contact iDiv:
Prof Christian Wirth
Head of the Department for Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity at Leipzig University
Managing Director of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena
Tel: +49-341-97-38591

Dr Fons van der Plas
Postdoctoral researcher in the Department for Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity at Leipzig University
Tel: +49-341-97-38587
While the study was carried out:
Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern (Switzerland) and Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre

Dr Tabea Turrini
Science communications officer
Media and Communications department
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Tel: +49 341 9733106

Contact at MPI-BGC:
Dr. Jens Kattge
Tel: +49 3641 57 6226

Ratcliffe, S., Wirth, C., Jucker, T., van der Plas, F., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Verheyen, K., Allan, E., Benavides, R., Bruelheide, H., Ohse, B., Paquette, A., Ampoorter, E., Bastias, C. C., Bauhus, J., Bonal, D., Bouriaud, O., Bussotti, F., Carnol, M., Castagneyrol, B., Che?ko, E., Dawud, S. M., Wandeler, H. D., Domisch, T., Finér, L., Fischer, M., Fotelli, M., Gessler, A., Granier, A., Grossiord, C., Guyot, V., Haase, J., Hättenschwiler, S., Jactel, H., Jaroszewicz, B., Joly, F.-X., Kambach, S., Kolb, S., Koricheva, J., Liebersgesell, M., Milligan, H., Müller, S., Muys, B., Nguyen, D., Nock, C., Pollastrini, M., Purschke, O., Radoglou, K., Raulund-Rasmussen, K., Roger, F., Ruiz-Benito, P., Seidl, R., Selvi, F., Seiferling, I., Stenlid, J., Valladares, F., Vesterdal, L. and Baeten, L. (2017):
Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning relations in European forests depend on environmental context.
Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.12849

Fons van der Plas, Sophia Ratcliffe, Paloma Ruiz-Benito, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Kris Verheyen, Christian Wirth, Miguel A. Zavala, Evy Ampoorter, Lander Baeten, Luc Barbaro, Cristina C. Bastias, Jürgen Bauhus, Raquel Benavides, Adam Benneter, Damien Bona, Olivier Bouriaud, Helge Bruelheide, Filippo Bussotti, Monique Carno, Bastien Castagneyro, Yohan Charbonnier, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen, Jonas Dahlgren, Ewa Checko, Andrea Coppi, Seid Muhie Dawud, Marc Deconchat, Pallieter De Smedt, Hans De Wandeler, Timo Domisch, Leena Finér, Mariangela Fotelli, Arthur Gessler, André Granier, Charlotte Grossiord, Virginie Guyot, Josephine Haase, Stephan Hättenschwiler, Hervé Jacte, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, François-Xavier Joly, Tommaso Jucker, Stephan Kambach, Gerald Kaendler, Jens Kattge, Julia Koricheva, Georges Kunstler, Aleksi Lehtonen, Mario Liebergesell, Peter Manning, Harriet Milligan, Sandra Müller, Bart Muys, Diem Nguyen, Charles Nock, Bettina Ohse, Alain Paquette, Josep Peñuelas, Martina Pollastrini, Kalliopi Radoglou, Karsten Raulund-Rasmussen, Fabian Roger, Rupert Seidl, Federico Selvi, Jan Stenlid, Fernando Valladares, Johan van Keer, Lars Vesterdal, Markus Fischer, Lars Gamfeldt, Eric Allan (2017):
Continental mapping of forest ecosystem functions reveals a high but unrealized potential for forest multifunctionality.
Ecology Letters. doi 10.1111/ele.12868

Project FunDivEUROPE
iDiv media release on a similar subject

El Niño heizt das Klima an
October 30, 2017


Fast 9 Mrd. t mehr CO2 durch El Niño
October 19, 2017


Wie manche Wesen auf Steroiden das Schneeball-Erde-Zeitalter überlebten
September 26, 2017


Blog post on monitoring the arctic atmosphere
December 7, 2017

Copyright: Martijn Pallandt
Martijn Pallandt, PhD researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, travelled to Northeast Siberia during summer 2017 to prepare for the installation of additional atmospheric sampling equipment in the context of INTAROS. In his blog post Martijn describes the challenges of carrying out field work in such a remote but breathtaking environment and also explains why continuous atmospheric monitoring of the tundra environment is vital in order to understand how climate change is impacting it.

Please read the full story!

Scientific Advisory Board Meeting
January 31 - February 2, 2018

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is an external gremium of internationally recognized scientists that serves to evaluate the scientific achievements of the institute. The SAB meets every three years and reports to the President of the Max Planck Society.

internal information

"Flora Incognita" - Plant identification with a smartphone
December 12, 2017

Projekt- und Beiratsteam des Projekts (Foto: Dr. Jana Wäldchen)
The project "Flora Incognita - Plant Identification with a Smartphone" of the Technical University of Ilmenau and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena was awarded as an official project of the "UN Decade of Biological Diversity". This prize is awarded to projects that are exemplary in their commitment to the conservation of biodiversity in the world. The semi-automatic detection of wild flowering plants in Thuringia with a smartphone is designed to increase awareness of biodiversity in the population and ultimately contribute to their conservation.

Biodiversity is endangered in almost all countries of the world. Species knowledge is a fundamental prerequisite for the protection and conservation of biodiversity. But people are less and less aware of the plants and animals that surround them. Conservation associations and scientists in our society complain about decreasing species knowledge, even among biologists. Plant identification with conventional books is complex for the layperson, time-consuming and difficult through the use of numerous technical terminologies. And photo books that are easier than textbooks are often not available for example in the field or on a Sunday walk. Studies show that even students know only a few plant and animal species. This development is dangerous for nature conservation. With dwindling knowledge of animals, plants, and their ecological relationships, the willingness of the population to advocate nature protection and environmental protection is decreasing.

Digital communication technologies and mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, which have become part of our daily lives, can close this gap. In the research project "Flora Incognita" - Unknown Plant World - scientists at the Technical University of Ilmenau and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena are developing a method that allows semi-automatic identification of higher flowering plants using mobile devices. The process is intuitive enough to inspire even laypersons: the smartphone camera captures pictures of the flower. Thereafter, the plant is automatically detected by recognition software and compared with an Internet-based database. Environmental and location factors are also included into the recognition, and if in doubt, users can answer further questions about the specific situation or mark parts of the image. Through the automatic image recognition, combined with user interactions, the plant species is finally identified. In this way unequivocally identified plants not only continue to educate the user but together with their location, the information is transmitted to central databases of nature conservation authorities and research institutions from where they are then made available to private users and authorities in an open platform. Using these databases, researchers can also scientifically document species and their changes - for example, the spread of invasive species.

The United Nations have declared the decade from 2011 to 2020 to be the Decade of Biodiversity, with the aim of stopping the worldwide decline in biodiversity. To promote social awareness of biodiversity in Germany, the German UN Decade regularly awards projects worthy of imitation. The jurors of this competition rated the project "Flora Incognita - Plant Identification with a Smartphone" as "an important sign for the commitment to biodiversity in Germany". "It is a great experience to work in such an interdisciplinary team of biologists, physicists, media technicians, and computer scientists", the two project leaders Prof. Patrick Mäder (JP) and Dr. Jana Wäldchen unanimously confirm. Beate Schrader, head of the Thüringen Nature Conservation Foundation and Dr. Werner Westhus of the Thuringian State Institute for the Environment and Geology presented the award to honor the participants' commitment to living diversity as part of a global strategy so that as many people as possible get inspired by these exemplary activities.

"We are very pleased with the recognition of our research activities," said Prof. Kai-Uwe Sattler, Vice-Rector for Science, TU Ilmenau. "We are proud to make a sustainable contribution to the conservation of biodiversity and are happy that the synergies of the TU Ilmenau with the Max Planck Institute are publicly appreciated."

Prof. Markus Reichstein, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, also confirms: "The cooperation between university and non-university research as well as the groundbreaking combination of ecology, geosciences, and artificial intelligence is becoming a model here."

The research project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (01LC1319A, 01LC1319B), the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) (3514 685C19) and the Nature Conservation Foundation Thuringia (SNT-082-248-03 / 2014).

Contact at TU Ilmenau:
JuniorProf. Patrick Mäder
Phone +49 3677 69-4839

Contact at MPI for Biogeochemistry:
Dr. Jana Wäldchen
Phone +49 3677 69-4849

Information on the UN Decade Biological Diversity

Management of mountain meadows influences resilience to climate extremes
January 9, 2018

Versuchsfläche in den Alpen / Research area in the Alps (© Stefan Karlowsky)
The species-rich mountain meadows of the Alps are subject to continuous land use changes and increasingly frequent climatic extremes. Persistent periods of drought are seen as the greatest threat to grassland ecosystems. To find out how a change in management influences the drought reaction of mountain meadows, a research team from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena together with international cooperation partners carried out field experiments in the Tyrolean Stubai Valley. The results of the study, currently published in the Journal of Ecology, show that land use controls the resistance and recovery capacity of mountain meadows through various interactions between plants and soil microorganisms.

Mountain meadows provide many important ecosystem services, even beyond the borders of the mountain regions. These include forage production, biodiversity, erosion control, and the supply of drinking water. In addition, these ecosystems have a high cultural value and serve for recreation. Due to societal changes, the management of mountain meadows has changed too, especially since the last century. This is particularly well studied in the Alpine region, where locally up to 70 percent of traditional grazing and mowing has been abandoned. Such changes in land use have a strong impact on the composition of the plant community, the soil and the micro-organisms contained therein.

Interaction of plants and soil microorganisms is important

Plants increase the activity of bacteria and fungi by passing on a part of their carbon from photosynthesis to them. This in turn leads to a greater release of plant nutrients in the soil and in addition, mycorrhiza fungi provide access to extra resources outside the roots. Longer periods of drought as predicted for the Alps, however, greatly reduce carbon uptake and input into the soil. Above ground, a withering of leaves and stems becomes visible, subterranean losses in nutrient uptake by the roots occur. However, a good supply of nutrients is important to ensure a quick recovery of the plants after the end of the drought.

Moderate management leads to faster recovery

The interdisciplinary team of scientists from Germany, France, Italy, and Austria investigated the carbon dioxide uptake and distribution in a total of 24 test plots at an altitude of over 1,800 meters using stable isotope labelling. During and after the drought, the researchers were able to follow the path of the carbon through plant sugars in leaves and roots up to root respiration and including absorption into various bacteria and fungi. In addition, they determined the strength of the plant's nitrogen uptake from the soil after drought.

The scientists were able to show that although the spare plant community of a fallow meadow reacts less strongly to drought stress; it recovers more slowly than the more productive plant community of a moderately cultivated hayfield. The higher resistance of the fallow land was accompanied by a greater spread of mycorrhiza fungi, which, with their hyphae network, improve plant access to water and nutrients in the soil. The hay meadow plants had a different strategy during the drought. They retained as many resources as possible in the form of sugars in their roots, but at the same time lost a lot of leaf mass. After the drought, these resources were released and the plants recovered quickly. The process was accompanied by an increased carbon transfer to free-living soil bacteria and fungi which are able to release further nutrients from the organic soil substance. On the basis of an increased nitrogen uptake during the recovery phase, the scientists were able to show that hay meadow plants can effectively absorb newly released nutrients in the soil and use them for regrowth.

Meadow ecosystems' ability to resist and to recover behave the other way round

Stefan Karlowsky, first author of the study and doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, explains: “A high level of resistance is followed by a slow recovery, while a lower resistance is accompanied by a rapid recovery.” Consequently, the effects of extreme droughts on mountain pastures can be specifically regulated and potentially mitigated through appropriate management. “To this end, we still have to find out how different periods of time and intensity as well as repeated droughts affect meadow ecosystems”, Stefan Karlowsky looks ahead. "We assume that the good recreational ability of the managed mountain meadows pays off during stronger or more frequent dry periods.” adds Prof. Gerd Gleixner. Through regular mowing, the plants are accustomed to storing more resources in the roots and to use them for rapid regrowth.

The research work was carried out as part of the BMBF project REGARDS (

Original publication:
Karlowsky S., Augusti A., Ingrisch J., Hasibeder R., Lange M., Lavorel S., Bahn M. and Gleixner G., Land use in mountain grasslands alters drought response and recovery of carbon allocation and plant-microbial interactions.
Journal of Ecology, 2017; 00:1–14.

Stefan Karlowsky
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 6147, Email:

apl. Prof. Dr. Gerd Gleixner
Phone +49 (0)3641 57 6172, Email:

Link to the pubication

The Use of Biomass Halves the Amount of Carbon Stored by Plants
January 11, 2018

Human biomass utilization reduces global carbon stocks in vegetation by 50%. Copyright: Biodiversity Exploratories / Jörg Hailer /Die menschliche Nutzung von Biomasse halbiert die durch die globalen Vegetationsbestände gespeicherte Menge an Kohlenstoff. Copyright: Biodiversitätsexploratorien / Jörg Hailer
Press Release of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre

According to a recent study in the scientific journal “Nature,” plants in terrestrial ecosystems store approximately 450 billion tons of carbon worldwide – less than half of the amount theoretically possible. This is due to the use of biomass by humans. Surprisingly, forestry and agriculture in natural forests and grasslands have a similarly pronounced effect in this regard as the cutting down forests for farmland. Scientists at Senckenberg, Klagenfurt University, and the Max Planck Institutes of Biogeochemistry and Meteorology caution that the increased use of biomass envisaged by the climate policy may therefore not always be climate-neutral.

Plants store carbon, which makes them an important climate factor. The effects of deforestation for farmland on the earth’s carbon balance are rather well quantified. The effects of other land use practices, however, have only been poorly studied to date. For the first time, scientists have now calculated a comprehensive set of land uses affects the amount of carbon stored by plants.

According to their analysis, plants in terrestrial ecosystems currently store about 450 billion tons of carbon worldwide – significantly less than potentially possible. “In a hypothetical world without land use, the vegetation would store twice as much carbon,” explains Dr. Thomas Kastner of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, one of the participants in the study.

Roughly half of the difference between the potentially and actually stored carbon volume results from the deforestation and other changes in land cover (53-58 %), while the other half is due to the effects of forestry and the grazing of natural grasslands (42-47 %), two thirds of which can be attributed to forestry.

According to the study’s leading author, Professor Karl-Heinz Erb of Klagenfurt University, “The effects of forestry and pasture farming on the volume of carbon stored by plants are drastically underestimated. Managed forests store about one third less carbon than untouched natural forests. Halting deforestation is essential, but not sufficient to mitigate the climate change. It is important to shift the focus from the protection of forested areas to the protection of forest functions, including carbon storage.”

The results are highly controversial in regard to the current climate policy. This policy envisages an increased use of biomass in order to reduce global warming. However, this may turn out to be trap: While biomass as a raw material replaces fossil resources in the energy supply, its use may cause significant greenhouse gases emissions from the land system. This is supported by the fact that a large amount of such emissions occurred prior to 1880 – i.e., before the industrialization with its emissions from fossil energy – as documented by historical data.

The authors identify significant uncertainties and data gaps regarding the protection of carbon stocks in the vegetation as an additional problem. “At this time, we are only able to verify reforestation efforts and other measures increase the biomass stock in temperate climate zones with sufficient certainty. However, in this region, the achievable effects are rather small. Tropical forests hold the largest potential, yet to date large uncertainties hamper the verification increases in carbon storage Therefore, improved monitoring is required in order to verify the benefits of such measures,” adds Kastner in conclusion. (BiK-F, 20.12.2017)

The study was co-funded by various projects including BACI: “Detecting changes in essential ecosystem and biodiversity properties: towards a Biosphere Atmosphere Change Index” financed by the European Commission´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, also points to serious knowledge gaps and data uncertainties. These uncertainties have a direct relevance for the development of land use strategies designed to fight climate change: At the moment, the reliability and robustness of data allows for a verification of biomass stock increases, e.g. due to afforestation programmes, only in the temperate climate zone. In this zone, however, the potentially achievable effects are modest. In the tropical forests, in contrast, the potentials are far larger, but enormous uncertainties hamper their verification.

Erb, K.-H. et al. (2017): Unexpectedly large impact of forest management and grazing on global vegetation biomass. Nature; doi:10.1038/nature25138

Contact at MPI for Biogeochemistry:
Nuno Carvalhais

Contact Project BACI:
Miguel Mahecha

Webpage BACI

IMPRS-gBGC starts new recruitment cycle
January 15, 0

In cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry houses a unique and flexible research program that grants German and foreign students a broad selection of learning opportunities while still maintaining a research focus. The IMPRS-gBGC offers a PhD program specializing in global biogeochemistry and related Earth System sciences.

Please find further information in the leaflet (pdf) for download and on the IMPRS webpage.

Webpage IMPRS-gBGC

Announcement (pdf)

IMPRS-gBGC starts new recruitment cycle
January 15, 2018

In cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry houses a unique and flexible research program that grants German and foreign students a broad selection of learning opportunities while still maintaining a research focus. The IMPRS-gBGC offers a PhD program specializing in global biogeochemistry and related Earth System sciences.

Please find further information in the leaflet (pdf) for download and on the IMPRS webpage.

Webpage IMPRS-gBGC

Announcement (pdf)

IMPRS-gBGC Recruitment Symposium
April 23 - April 24, 2018

Webpage IMPRS-gBGC

Forsche Schüler Tag am MPI für Biogeochemie
April 26, 2018

Forsche Schüler am Max Planck Institut für Biogeochemie

Liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler,
Ihr seid herzlich eingeladen, am Donnerstag, den 26. April 2018 einen Blick hinter unsere Kulissen zu werfen und die Forschung an unserem Institut kennen zu lernen. Bringt Forschergeist mit und wir freuen uns darauf, gemeinsam mit Euch zu experimentieren.

09:00 Begrüßung, kurze Institutsvorstellung und Hinweise zum Programm
09:15 2 Doktoranden stellen sich vor
09:50 kurze Pause, Aufteilung der Gruppen
10:00 bis 13:00 Projekte

13:30 Abschlussvortrag im Abbe-Zentrum

"Schulzeit vorbei - jetzt geht das Leben los! - Tipps und Ideen, wie es weitergehen kann"
Hier erfolgt auch die Ausgabe der Teilnahmebestätigungen!
Die Veranstaltung endet gegen 14 Uhr.

Projekte am Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

Um an unseren Projekten teilnehmen zu können, solltest Du mindestens die 8. Klasse besuchen!

Projekt 1 noch 6 freie Plätze
Als CO2-Detektive unterwegs
Mit CO2-Sensor und Schreibutensilien bewaffnet gehen die CO2-Detektive in Jena der Spur des Kohlenstoffs in Form von Kohlendioxid nach. Wir lösen zusammen folgende knifflige Fälle: Wie kann ich die CO2-Konzentration messen? Wo ist die Konzentration von Kohlenstoffdioxid hoch oder niedrig, und warum? Entsprechen die Messungen unseren Erwartungen, was erscheint uns merkwürdig und wie kann dieser Unterschied erklärt werden? Wie kann ich die Messdaten so darstellen, dass meine Fragen beantwortet werden?

Projekt 2 alle Plätze belegt
Drohnen für atmosphärische Messungen
Multikopter, besser bekannt als "Drohnen", sind faszinierende Fluggeräte. Viele Menschen nutzen sie in ihrer Freizeit, um Fotos und Videos aus der Vogelperspektive aufzunehmen oder um Rennen damit zu fliegen. Aber Multikopter können noch viel mehr, nämlich wissenschaftliche Daten liefern - wenn sie mit den richtigen Geräten ausgerüstet werden. Wir bauen einen kleinen Multikopter so um, dass er die Temperatur, den Druck und die relative Feuchte der Umgebungsluft messen kann, und führen damit Messungen in verschiedenen Höhen durch. Außerdem lernst du, wie diese Fluggeräte funktionieren und was du bei ihrem Einsatz beachten solltest.

Projekt 3 entfällt aus organisatorischen Gründen
Albedo-Effekt und Spurengasmessungen in der Atmosphäre
Hier lernst Du etwas über die Albedo, sie ist ein wichtiger Klimafaktor. Lass Dich überraschen! Hoch über den Dächern von Jena befindet sich unsere Wetterstation. Genieße den Ausblick und erfahre etwas über die verschiedenen Messtechniken von Spurengasen in der Atmosphäre.

Projekt 4 entfällt aus organisatorischen Gründen
Unsere Böden - mehr als nur der Dreck unter unseren Schuhen
Der Boden, über den wir tagtäglich laufen, wimmelt nur so vor Leben. So kann zum Beispiel ein Teelöffel Waldboden bis zu 100 Millionen Bakterien, 30.000 Einzeller, 1000 Fadenwürmer und 60 km Pilzfäden enthalten. Die unterirdische "Erdbevölkerung" ist also weitaus größer als die oberirdische. Diese Gemeinschaft ist unermüdlich damit beschäftigt, Stoffkreisläufe am Laufen zu halten, indem sie abgestorbene Pflanzenteile zerkleinert und zersetzt und so Nährstoffe wieder für Pflanzen verfügbar macht. Ohne sie wäre oberirdisches Leben nicht möglich. Du erfährst, wie wir den Boden untersuchen und welche Informationen wir daraus erhalten.

Projekt 5 noch 6 freie Plätze
Flora Incognita – die App zur Pflanzenbestimmung
Mit unserer Flora Incognita App könnt Ihr die heimischen Blütenpflanzen bestimmen. Wir zeigen Euch, wie Ihr die Pflanzen am besten fotografiert und wie Ihr mithelfen könnt, unsere Bilddatenbank zu bestücken. Bitte bringt Euer Smartphone mit!

Rare climate sequence leads to extraordinary plant growth in Spain
January 23, 2018

Field station of MPI-BGC: Majadas de Tietar in the Spanish Extremadura (© Istvan Hejja)
The influence of prolonged climatic changes on the terrestrial ecosystems of our planet is generally known; however, how and to what extent short-term climate extremes can have a definite impact on ecosystems is barely described. The variables involved are too numerous, and observations and measurements in the field are usually too short term. In a recent study, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC), Jena, and international partners were able to describe the consequences of extreme weather conditions using Spain as an example.

The scientists investigated the effects of the exceptionally warm winter 2015/16 and the subsequent rainy spring on the ecosystems of the Iberian Peninsula. They were able to use measurement series from the Majadas de Tietar field station in Extremadura, Spain, which has been continuously surveyed for 13 years. The locally measured data on temperature, precipitation, and carbon fluxes were compared with satellite data on regional photosynthesis activity (FAPAR) but also with large-scale model analyses.

The evaluation of the study shows an effect that has been given little consideration: under these special weather conditions, photosynthetic carbon uptake, called gross primary production, increased, which can lead to higher biomasses and crop yields. Thus, the succession of a very warm winter and a spring with abundant rainfall enabled exceptionally good conditions for plant growth over a longer period of time.

Interestingly, neither the warm winter 2015/16 nor the following moist spring were considered "extreme" on their own. Nonetheless, both led to an exceptionally positive ecosystem response. Furthermore, rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere generally promote vegetation growth and have likely additionally contributed. In principle, an increased probability of warm winters is to be expected in the future. Yet, there are no indications of general increases in spring rainfall - a prerequisite for high vegetation productivity.

With the higher temperatures in winter and increased rainfall in spring, the ecosystem respiration, i. e. ecosystem CO2 release, also increased at the same time. As a result, the overall balance of CO2 absorption and emissions was not significantly changed. The positive conditions for plant growth could therefore not at the same time strengthen the carbon absorbing ("sink") function of the ecosystem.

The study, with partners from Norway, the United Kingdom, and PIK Potsdam, was one of the first studies to investigate the impact of climate extremes and their changes (due to human activity) on ecosystems. It was published in an annual special report by the American Society for Meteorology, which deals with the question of how man-made climate change could have influenced individual extreme events and their impacts in the previous year. The study was additionally supported by the European Space Agency ESA, the Max Planck Research Award of the Humboldt Foundation to Prof. Markus Reichstein and the EU-funded project "BACI: towards a Biosphere Atmosphere Change Index" at the MPI-BGC.

Contact MPI-BGC:
Tarek El-Madany
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Department Biogeochemical Integration
Hans-Knöll-Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
Phone: +49 3641 576231

BAMS report
Webpage of the group
BACI project

10th International Conference on Ecological Informatics
September 24 - September 28, 2018

WHEN: 24. - 28. September, 2018
WHERE: Friedrich-Schiller University Jena
TOPIC: Translating Ecological Data into Knowledge and Decisions in a Rapidly Changing World

Scientific Program Committee including J. Kattge and M. Mahecha of MPI-BGC

Webpage of meeting

Wir machen viel mehr kaputt, als uns bewusst ist
January 22, 2018


ESRP Meeting
June 6 - June 8, 2018

The Earth System Research Partnership (ESRP) pools research excellence across disciplines to understand how the Earth functions as a complex system and to improve the predictability of the effects of human actions.

Over the last century, marked changes in climate, air quality, biodiversity, and water availability occurred. More and potentially more rapid changes are predicted. To find solutions to the challenges these changes pose, the ESRP studies the complex interactions and feedbacks of land, ocean, atmosphere, biosphere, and humans in the field, the lab and through modeling.

The Annual Meeting of the Earthsystem Research Partnership will take place in Göttingen at the Max Planck Institute of Solar System Research.


March for Science 2018
April 12, 2018

Anlässlich des internationalen March for Science 2018 organisiert die Friedrich-Schiller-Universität eine Podiumsdiskussion zu folgenden Fragen:

Wie denken PolitikerInnen, WissenschaftlerInnen, StudientInnen und MedienvertreterInnen über Autonomie und Freiheit von Wissenschaft und Forschung?

(Wie) Soll die Öffentlichkeit mit Prinzipien und Werten der Wissenschaft vertraut gemacht werden, gerade bei kontroversen Themen und Zweifeln an wissenschaftlichen Befunden?

Welche Handlungsstrategien in Bezug auf Diversity, Integration und Gleichstellung sind vorhanden und erfolgversprechend durchsetzbar?

Welche Problemlösungen bieten Wissenschaft, Politik und Medien konkret an - international, auf Bundes-, Landes- und Lokalebene?

BEGRÜSSUNG: Prof. Dr. Walter Rosenthal, Präsident der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

MODERATION: Carolin Matzko (München), ARD: »Planet Wissen«, BR: »Zündfunk«, Moderatorin und Journalistin


Prof. Dr. Peter Weingart (Bielefeld, Stellenbosch), Inhaber des South African Research Chair in Science Communication, Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST), Stellenbosch University (Südafrika)

Dr. Helen Morrison (Jena), Leiterin der Forschungsgruppe »Nerve Regeneration«, Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

Prof. Dr. Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff (Erfurt), Chef der Staatskanzlei und Minister für Kultur, Bundes- und Europa-Angelegenheiten des Freistaats Thüringen

Prof. Dr. Eva Schmitt-Rodermund (Jena), Vizekanzlerin und Leiterin des Dezernat 1, Akademische und studentische Angelegenheiten, Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena

Madeleine Henfling (Erfurt), Stellvertretende Parlamentarische Geschäftsführerin der Fraktion von Bündnis 90/Die Grünen im Thüringer Landtag

Dr. Florian Freistetter (Jena), Deutscher IQ Preis (2012), Deutscher Kleinkunstpreis (2016), Astronom, Wissenschaftsblogger, Buchautor und Podcaster

FSU - March for Science

Poster (in German)
Flyer (in German)

BGC scientists (co-)organize EGU 2018 sessions
April 8 - April 13, 2018

The EGU General Assembly brings together geoscientists from all over the world. It will take place in Vienna, Austria, from April 8 to 13, 2018.

Scientist from MPI for Biogeochemistry are not only participating in this important meeting but also co-organizing scientific sessions in various topics.

IE1.1 Climate extremes, biosphere and society: impacts, remote sensing, and feedbacks (co-organized)
Convener: Markus Reichstein | Co-Conveners: Dorothea Frank, et. al.

IE4.5 Information extraction from satellite observations using data-driven methods (co-organized)
Convener: Miguel Mahecha

AS3.18 Remote-Sensing of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Methane
Convener: Dietrich G. Feist

BG2.14 Terrestrial ecosystem responses to global change: integrating carbon, nutrient, and water cycles in experiments and models
Co-Conveners: Sönke Zaehle, et. al. BG2.2 Carbon allocation in plants and ecosystems: mechanisms, responses and biogeochemical implications
Co-Conveners: Henrik Hartmann, et. al.

BG2.3 Plant traits and biogeochemical cycles, including optimality, acclimation and adaptation in land ecosystem models (co-organized)
Convener: Jens Kattge | Co-Conveners: Markus Reichstein, Sönke Zaehle, et. al.

BG2.4 Emerging constraints of photosynthesis and respiration at ecosystem to global scales
Co-Conveners: Mirco Migliavacca, Markus Reichstein , et. al.

BG2.23 Forests under pressure: current knowledge and future science directions
Co-Conveners: Henrik Hartmann et. al.

BG4.12 Global Earth observation and in-situ data for improved understanding of terrestrial ecosystem dynamics (co-organized)
Co-Conveners: Nuno Carvalhais, et. al.

Splinter Meeting Session SMP52
Copernicus: European operational monitoring system for fossil CO2 emissions
Convener: Dietrich G. Feist

EGU Programme

Federal Minister Anja Karliczek visiting Beutenberg institutes
June 15, 2018

Federal Minister Anja Karliczek in dialogue with scientists at MPI for Biogeochemistry (Copyright: H.-J. Rickel, BMBF)
Joint press release of Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology and Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research, was guest at the Beutenberg Campus Jena today (15.6.2018). Together with a delegation from the BMBF, she visited the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) and the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz-IPHT) to get an impression of the researcher's activities.

With the Beutenberg Campus, home to nine research institutes and more than 50 companies, Federal Minister Anja Karliczek has chosen an interdisciplinary research location for her visit. Following the slogan "Where Life Science meets Physics", the Campus combines research and development in the fields of biology, (natural) chemistry, environmental research and medicine with optics, photonics, and optical microsystems in a unique way.

At the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, the Federal Minister met with the directors of the institute and young scientists for exchange. On the basis of outstanding research projects, the high-ranking guests gained an impression of the range of Earth system research. The virtual expedition went from the Amazon rainforest to the permafrost regions of Antarctica and around the globe with satellites and measuring aircraft. In addition to scientific topics, the social relevance of current climate research and structural requirements such as gender equality and the promotion of young scientists were discussed.

After the welcome by the scientific director Prof. Jürgen Popp at Leibniz IPHT, the delegation gained an insight into current research activities in the field of optical health technologies. With exhibits scientists from the institute showed Minister Karliczek how they use light for the rapid detection of infectious agents and their antimicrobial resistance or for the examination of tissue, for example in cancer diagnostics. During the tour through the laboratories and the fiber drawing facility of the Leibniz IPHT, the Minister informed herself about the underlying spectroscopic methods and technologies for the production of optical fibers for endoscopic tissue diagnostics.

"The Beutenberg Campus is an example of how top research is advancing our country. Here in Jena, a location for research and technology companies of national and international importance has been established. This applies to climate and environmental research as well as to new medical technology. Research is being carried out here that can improve people's everyday lives - for example, how light can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Science and industry, federal and state governments can achieve a great deal together if we work together in this way. I am particularly pleased that knowledge transfer is of great importance to the researchers," said Federal Research Minister Karliczek.

ICOS MSA Meeting
June 5 - June 7, 2018

Scientists from ICOS (atmosphere) stations meet at this Monitoring Station Assembly (MSA) to discuss the progress of the ICOS stations as well as future steps and developments.


Kick-off meeting with partner group in Bhopal, India
March 15, 2018

The GMA with Dr. Dhanyalekshmi K. Pillai, Prof. Martin Heimann and Dr. Julia Marshall
Director Emeritus Martin Heimann and group leader Julia Marshall of the MPI-BGC travelled to India this week, to attend the Kick-Off Workshop of our Max Planck Partner Group at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Bhopal (IISER-B). The partner group is headed by Dhanya Pillai, former MPI-BGC scientist in the Systems Department.

The workshop provided the opportunity to bring together international key note speakers and the national community of researchers working in the field of greenhouse gas measurement and modelling, with the goal of developing an integrated greenhouse gas monitoring system in India. This goal is substantially supported by the award of the Max Planck Partner Group to Dhanya Pillai, which will help her to build up a new group while maintaining tight collaborations with her former colleagues in Jena.

Webpage Workshop
Webpage of the partner group in India

Summer School on Field Experimental Design and Data Acquisition
March 11 - March 18, 2018

The Summer School on Field Experimental Design and Data Acquisition (Field data, RS data) took place from the 11-18 March, 2018 in Navalmoral de la Mata – Cáceres, Spain. It is part of the training program for the ESRs project TRUSTEE and co-organized by the MPI-BGC and CSIC.

Project webpage TRUSTEE


Global Carbon Budget 2017 released, supported by MPI-BGC scientists
March 21, 2018

The annual Global Carbon Budget for 2017 was recently published in the journal Earth System Science Data, after being in discussion since last November. As was the case in previous years, the Global Carbon Project was supported by MPI-BGC scientists Christian Rödenbeck and Sönke Zaehle, who contributed their expertise in atmospheric growth and land net uptake of CO2.

Both 2015 and 2016 marked record increases in the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. The record increases originated from record high CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry. At the same time, the land carbon sink had weakened in response to the 2015-2016 El Nino natural climate events.

For 2017, the projected increase of atmospheric CO2 is lower than in previous record years, because of the end of the El Nino event. The projected rise is nevertheless above the past decadal average, due to ever rising CO2 emissions. The combined land and ocean carbon sinks can only partially compensate for rising emissions.

The Global Carbon Project is a large international research project and part of the Future Earth initiative on global sustainability. It strives to develop a comprehensive picture of the global carbon cycle, by taking into account both its biophysical and human dimensions, including the interactions and feedbacks between them.

Global Carbon Budget 2017
Corinne Le Quéré et al. (2017), Earth System Science Data Discussions, DOI: 10.5194/essdd-2017-123.

Carbon Budget 2017
Link to the publication

Sönke Zaehle appointed lead author of the Sixth IPCC Assessment Report
April 18, 2018

Dr. Sönke Zaehle
On 9 April 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced the scientific experts for the Sixth Assessment Report. Among the nominated lead authors, Dr. Sönke Zaehle, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, will contribute to the preparation of the partial report on the Global carbon and other biogeochemical cycles and feedbacks.

The new Sixth Assessment Report AR6, due to be published in 2021/22, comprises three scientific working group reports and a summary synthesis report. The IPCC report provides decision-makers, stakeholders and international climate negotiators with the latest scientific findings on climate change, its consequences, risks and possible measures for mitigation and adaptation.

The first part to be prepared by working group I deals with the latest state of the art in climate change research. Dr. Sönke Zaehle will contribute his scientific expertise on a honorary basis. "I am really looking forward to exciting discussions about our current state of knowledge", explains the head of the Terrestrial Biosphere Modelling research group.

Dr. Sönke Zaehle
Phone: +49 3641 576230
Fax: +49 3641 577200
E-mail: szaehle(at)

Press Release by IPCC
German Coodination Centre of IPCC
Webpage Sönke Zaehle

GFBio: Further contribution to DFG project on scientific data management
May 11, 2018

The DFG-funded project GFBio aims at providing a sustainable and service-oriented national data infrastructure for scientists, as a basis for data-intense applications in biological and environmental research. To this end, 19 academic key partners from throughout Germany, including universities, museums, research institutions and molecular-biological archives participate in the project. Included are members of our Fellow group “Functional Biogeography”, Dr. Jens Kattge and Prof. Christian Wirth (iDIV), partly through the BeXis-project jointly operated with FSU Jena.

The GFBio portal will help to solve a central problem of current research: to make research data accessible over the long term and to enable better science. GFBio also serves as a national contact, information and consulting center for all questions concerning the standardization and management of biological research data throughout the entire life cycle of the data, i.e., from data collection and archiving to publication.

Press Release GFBio
Webpage: functional biogeography

Intercultural Diversity at Beutenberg Campus
May 31, 2018

The Leibniz Institute for Ageing Research invites to an interactive labyrinth [Photo: Beutenberg-Campus Jena e.V. | G. Müller]
Intercultural diversity is an everyday experience in the institutes and start-up centres on the Beutenberg. That is why the Beutenberg Campus Jena e.V. has joined the nationwide initiative "Charta of Diversity" and is taking part in today's "Diversity Day" in Jena's city centre.

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry has been a member of the Beutenberg Campus Jena e.V. since its beginning. Our international researchers come from over 25 different nations and account for approximately 35% of the institute's scientific staff.

Parallel to the professional exchange, a lively intercultural exchange takes place in the everyday life of the institute, but also especially at conferences and workshops as well as at our summer partys and Christmas celebrations.

The following press information in German has been published by the Beutenberg Campus Jena e.V. and the Leibniz Institute on Aging:


Interkulturelle Vielfalt ist offener und sichtbarer Teil des Arbeitsalltags am Beutenberg Campus in Jena. Hier befindet sich das größte Wissenschafts- und Innovationszentrum in Thüringen und ein Ort, an dem Menschen unterschiedlichster Nationen und Muttersprachen zusammen arbeiten.

Neun Institute, u.a. der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, der Max-Planck- und Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena sowie zwei Gründerzentren und die Firma Wacker Biotech GmbH beschäftigen insgesamt mehr als 3000 Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter, von denen nahezu 20 % aus ca. 75 Nationen kommen. Darunter sind viele ausländische Promovierende und Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler, die ein paar Monate oder Jahre in Jena verbringen. Das hat der Beutenberg-Campus Jena e.V. im Mai 2018 zum Anlass genommen, sich der bundesweiten Initiative der „Charta der Vielfalt“ anzuschließen.

Seit 2006 haben bereits 2800 Institutionen die „Charta der Vielfalt“ unterzeichnet und sich damit selbst verpflichtet, die Anerkennung, Wertschätzung und Einbeziehung von Vielfalt in der Arbeitswelt zu thematisieren. Alle Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter sollen Wertschätzung erfahren – unabhängig von Geschlecht, Nationalität, ethnischer Herkunft, Religion oder Weltanschauung, Behinderung, Alter, sexueller Orientierung und Identität. Die drei Leibniz-Institute am Beutenberg Campus feiern in diesem Jahr ein kleines Jubiläum, denn sie haben bereits vor fünf Jahren die „Charta der Vielfalt“ unterzeichnet.

Im Rahmen des „6. Deutschen Diversity Tages“ findet am 05. Juni 2018 von 16-20 Uhr ein „Tag der Vielfalt“ in der Jenaer Innenstadt am Löbdergraben statt. Daran beteiligen sich auch Institute des Beutenbergs, darunter das Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung – Fritz-Lipmann-Institut, das Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie – Hans-Knöll-Institut, das Leibniz-Institut für Photonische Technologien und das Zentrum für Innovationskompetenz Septomics sowie das benachbarte Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte zusammen mit dem Beutenberg-Campus Jena e.V.

Gemeinschaftlich stellen sie vor, wie diese Vielfalt in Jena gelebt werden kann. Auf die Besucher der Veranstaltung warten aktuelle Informationen zur Internationalität des Wissenschaftscampus Beutenberg, ein interaktives Integrationslabyrinth und eine Sprachdatenbank sowie viele weitere Informationen zum Thema „Diversity“. Darüber hinaus bereichert die Ostthüringer Wing Chun Kung Fu Organisation unter Beteiligung von Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern des Beutenbergs das Bühnenprogramm mit einer Kampfkunstvorstellung.

Zum „Tag der Vielfalt“ wird herzlich eingeladen. Die Veranstaltung ist öffentlich und kostenlos.

Beutenberg-Campus Jena e.V.
Dr. Christiane Meyer
Beutenberg-Campus Jena e.V.
Hans-Knöll-Straße 1
07745 Jena
Tel.: 49 (0)3641 – 93 04 80

Diversity Charta
Webpage Beutenberg Campus Jena e.V.

Press Release (in German)

Science Pub: "Patient Earth - Approaches to Diagnosis"
June 5, 2018

Explaining science in an informal atmosphere is what the Science Pub is all about: How do scientists work and what's new to report? Prof. Dr. Markus Reichstein describes how the state of the Earth can be explored, which methods are used and why the water cycle plays a decisive role in climate change.

Where? Theatercafé Jena, Schillergäßchen 1
When? Tuesday, June 5th, 2018, 07:00 p. m.

Webpage on Science Pub

Honorary doctorate for Prof. Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze
June 12, 2018

Dean of the University of Göttingen Prof. Bernhard Möhring, honorary doctor Prof. Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze, and laudator Prof. Dr. Alexander Knohl (© Peter Heller)
The Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology of the Georg-August University of Göttingen awarded the honorary doctorate to Prof. Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze, founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, as part of its 150th anniversary celebration. The faculty honored her alumnus for his outstanding scientific achievements and his long-lasting support and cooperation.

In the 1960s Prof. Schulze studied at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Göttingen, which was still in Hann. Münden at that time. After his diploma and a stay abroad in the USA, he completed his doctoral thesis in biology on the first carbon balance of a tree with his former lecturer Prof. Otto Lange, who was by then teaching at the University of Würzburg.

After gaining his doctorate and habilitation, he was appointed Germany's youngest professor in the field of plant ecology in 1975. A good 20 years later, in 1997, Prof. Schulze became one of the three founding directors of the new Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. There he turned to global biogeochemical cycles with an emphasis on the carbon cycle. Schulze retired in 2009, but continues as Emeritus to research global forest ecosystems and to manage forests in Thuringia and Romania.

In the seventies, E.-D. Schulze investigated the new forest health problems that occurred at that time and founded a research association, the Bavarian Forest Toxicology Research Group. The results of this network showed that the novel forest dieback is caused by increased sulphur and nitrogen loads in the air, which damage the growth of the trees. To understand the complex interactions between atmosphere, plant and soil, it was necessary to investigate the processes in the entire ecosystem. The tree researcher Schulze became an ecosystem researcher.

In Jena, Prof. Schulze launched the world's largest biodiversity experiment - the Jena Experiment - together with the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. He initiated long-term study areas, the Biodiversity Exploratories, and the first systematic experiment on forest diversity - Biotree. As usual in good forestry tradition, only future generations will be able to reap the full scientific fruits.

In the course of his research career, Prof. Schulze has received numerous awards and honors, including the German Environmental Prize and the Federal Cross of Merit 1st class.

However, as an alumnus of the Faculty of Forest Sciences at the University of Göttingen, Prof. Schulze did not yet hold a doctorate in forestry. The Faculty of Göttingen has now made up for this with the award of an honorary doctorate. The laudatory speech was given by Prof. Dr. Alexander Knohl from the Department of Bioclimatology at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, a former graduate and doctoral student of Prof. Schulze.

Webpage Prof. Schulze

Visit of Federal Minister Anja Karliczek
June 15, 2018

On Friday, June 15, Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research, will visit Jena. Together with her Thuringian counterpart Wolfgang Tiefensee, she is visiting two research institutions at the Beutenberg Campus, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) and the Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies (Leibniz-IPHT) to get an impression of the researcher’s work.

The Minister's tour starts at 3:30 p.m. at the MPI-BGC, where she will inform herself about Earth System and Climate Research. A visit to the Leibniz IPHT is planned for 4.50 pm, which will provide an insight into the research field of optical health technologies. Representatives of the press are cordially invited to this event and are asked to apply for accreditation at the Leibniz-IPHT in advance.

Annual Meeting of the Partnership Earth System Research
June 13, 2018

The annual meeting of the Earth System Research Partnership, composed of Max Planck institutes and associated institutes, took place from 6 to 8 June 2018. This year's host and joint organizer of the meeting with the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) was the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Göttingen, Germany. Within the Max Planck Society, the MPS has been assigned to the research field of ESRP institutes since 2014 and is now a permanent member of the partnership specially renamed "Earth and Solar systems Research Partnership" (ESRP).

65 scientists from six Max Planck Institutes and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS Potsdam) took part in the scientific exchange that lasted two and a half days. With a total of 19 lectures, about 20 posters and four working groups, the scientists exchanged information about the latest research results, current focus areas and new projects of their institutions.

The main topics included the influence of solar variability on the Earth system and the jointly used and partly also jointly operated research infrastructures, such as the research aircraft HALO and the observatory towers ATTO and ZOTTO. Consideration was also given to best practice models for new and efficient communication channels with regard to the use and exchange of data. A tour of the MPS topped off the program. The next ESRP meeting will take place in Mainz, Germany, in June 2019.

Dr. Eberhard Fritz
MPI for Biogeochemistry
Ph.: +49 3641 576800


Discovery of hidden CFC emissions
June 28, 2018

Martin Heimann © Tristan Vostry, Latest Thinking GmbH
For a long time, the Montreal protocol has been taken as a success story on how to implement an international agreement on environmental sustainability. It was key to protect the Earth's ozone layer. Recently, however, researchers found out that chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions have been increasing again. This case exemplifies the importance of independent monitoring measures - also in the case of green house gases (GHG).

The editorial of Martin Heimann, arranged with our partner Deutsches Klima Konsortium (DKK), is so far available in German only.

Editorial on DKK webpage

Soil weathering: A key player in carbon cycling
July 2, 2018

The soil sampling campaign has been conducted across a sequence of soils developed on material originating from the Sierra Nevada Highlands that has been deposited over millions of years in the Californian central valley. Young, fertile soils (upper row) can support vast plant life and stabilize C with minerals while old soils (lower row) can only sustain a very poor and scarce vegetation due to lack of suitable minerals needed to sustain greater plant productivity and soil C stocks.
Soils are important for carbon (C) storage and thus for possible mitigation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. In a recently published Nature Geoscience article, scientists took a closer look at the drivers of C storage in soils. The study along a 3-million-year old terrace sequence in the Californian central valley showed how soil weathering crucially influences terrestrial C cycling.

Quantifying soil C dynamics is of utmost relevance in the context of global change as soils play an important role in land-atmosphere gas exchange. Whether C is stored in soils or released back to the atmosphere is usually related to climatic factors and land management, as they control plant growth and the decomposition activity of soil microorganisms. Geology, however, can be seen as the long-term and larger-scale geochemical background in which soils develop with their C storage capacity.

An international team of researchers including Prof Susan Trumbore from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Germany, shows why it is important to understand long-term geological changes like mineral weathering when assessing short-term responses of soil C dynamics.

The scientists worked along a soil chronosequence with increasing weathering status in California that originated from the same geologic material and developed under similar climate and vegetation cover. The youngest soils along this sequence are only a few years old, whereas the oldest and highly weathered soils are several million years old.

“This difference in the soil’s weathering stage allowed us to investigate all kinds of changes relevant for the C cycle that occur with time. For example, changes in vegetation types due to differing availability of nutrients, changes in microbial communities and their strategies to assess these nutrients, the capacity of minerals to stabilize C in soils and even the effect that warming might have on certain biological processes” Trumbore explains. The researchers demonstrate that biogeochemical alteration of the soil matrix (and not short-term warming) controls the composition of microbial communities and strategies to metabolize nutrients. As a general rule, weathering first increases and then reduces nutrient availability and retention, as well as the potential of soils to stabilize C.

So how does this knowledge help us to improve predictions of the future C cycle?

“The great thing about our study is that we show how closely biological processes acting on short time scales are tied to these long term changes in soils that come with weathering” Trumbore continues. The scientists hope that this understanding helps to better integrate weathering mechanisms into models by ecologists and biochemists to predict C at the global scale. If biology, that drives the C cycle, is taking place on a stage that is controlled by geochemical changes in soils, they can use much simpler approaches and larger datasets on soil properties and underlying geology to create better predictions of future C cycle developments.

Original publication:
Full title: Doetterl S., Arnold C., Berhe A.A., Bodé S., Boeckx P., Fiener, P., Finke P., Fuchslueger L., Griepentrog, M., Harden J.W., Nadeu E., Schnecker J., Six J., Trumbore S., Van Oost, K., Vogel C. 2018.
Links among warming, carbon and microbial dynamics mediated by soil mineral weathering.
Nature Geoscience, DOI:

Prof Susan E. Trumbore
phone: +49 3641 576110

Link to the publication

Max Planck Day - Pub Quiz
September 14, 2018

Pub quiz in Jena Paradies Park

Who knows what or guesses best? In Jena, the three Max Planck Institutes invite you to a science pub quiz in the Paradiescafé.

From 8 pm (admission 7 pm) teams of up to five people can prove themselves with questions about the fun of research and curious discoveries. No detailed knowledge is required. Anyone can participate.

Information on Pub Quiz

Slug shuttle-service for mites
July 5, 2018

Oribatid mite of the Euphthiracaridae family. These mites travel alive in the gut of slugs. (Picture: Andy Murray)
Press releasse of Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

On the menu for slugs are not only mosses, lichens and garden vegetables, but also miniscule oribatid mites, which they unavoidably take in with their food. Astonishingly, most of these tiny arachnids survive the voyage through the slug's digestive system without harm and are excreted, alive, elsewhere in the ecosystem. Scientists led by Dr Manfred Türke of iDiv research centre and Leipzig University have, for the first time, discovered this dispersal strategy, used predominantly by plants and known in the scientific community as endozoochory (dispersal by ingestion), also being used by mites. The researchers have published their findings in the journal Oecologia.

Animals and plants have, over the course of evolution, developed numerous strategies for colonising new habitats. For example, in summer, cherries are happily eaten by blackbirds. The birds excrete the undigested cherry stones in a different location where the plant can then germinate. Until now, little has been known about the dispersal strategies of soil organisms such as mites, nematodes and other invertebrates. They are extremely small and correspondingly slow but live in almost all soils, where they are critical to the functioning of the ecosystem because they break down organic waste and maintain nutrient cycles in the soil.

This makes the research results of the scientists led by Manfred Türke all the more important. For months, Türke collected Spanish slugs (Arion vulgaris) in the Leipzig riparian forest with the purpose of examining their excrement under a microscope. When he did this, the scientist made an astounding discovery: in the snails’ excrement, he found 36 widely distributed species of tiny oribatid mites (Oribatida). These arachnids inhabit the soil and the leaf litter of the forests and are not even a millimetre long.

Astonishingly, 70 percent of the mites eaten had survived passage through the snail's gut. In the laboratory, Manfred Türke observed that the mites can reach a new location, alive, by being transported in a snail's gut. This dispersal strategy is known in the scientific community as endozoochory (dispersal by ingestion) and has been observed very rarely in animals. For the mites, which are not only tiny, but also extremely sluggish and ponderous, the snails are therefore a means of transport and dispersal. Even the fastest mite can cover a maximum of two centimetres a day, while a large slug easily manages a distance of up to 15 metres a day. “This means about a thousand times the speed. When a snail creeps by, for a mite, it’s as if an ICE were thundering past,” says Manfred Türke. A train which many mites jump on. The biologist even suggests that a mite could be intentionally eaten: “It would be possible for the mite to notice when a snail is nearby and then crawl higher up in the vegetation in order to be eaten ... inside the snail, the mite would also be protected from predators.”

In addition to oribatid mites, the scientists also found plant seeds, mosses and, in particular, other living soil animals in the feces of the collected slugs. Therefore, it is likely that whole micro-ecosystems disperse using snails. This mechanism of dispersal could explain why minuscule soil dwellers, who can travel only a few centimetres a day, can colonise new habitats in an ecosystem with astonishing speed. A single square metre of soil can be home to hundreds of thousands of invertebrates and hundreds or even thousands of different species. A better understanding of these complex communities is crucial for preserving key soil functions such as carbon sequestration, drinking water purification and soil fertility.

Original publication
Gut shuttle service: endozoochory of dispersal-limited soil fauna by gastropods
Türke, M., Lange, M. & Eisenhauer, N. Oecologia (2018) 186: 655.

Contact at MPI-BGC:
Dr. Markus Lange
Phone +49 0()3641 57-6168

Video of a mite escaping from slug feces.
Video of a mite that survived in a slug’s gut.
Link to the publication

Surprise from the jungle soil
July 23, 2018

The trees of the Amazon rainforest emit huge amounts of volatile substances that influence the chemical composition of the air. Photo: Cybelli Barbosa
The Amazon rainforest is the largest forest on earth. Its trees emit huge amounts of volatile substances that influence chemical composition of air. Some of these substances are the so-called sesquiterpenes, very reactive chemicals that can rapidly consume ozone and produce particles. Until recently scientists studying the air composition in forests were primarily focused on trees and plants.
An international team has now revealed, that the soil emissions of sesquiterpenes can be, under certain conditions, just as strong as those from the canopy. The study results have been published recently in the journal Nature Communications. This discovery shows that the emissions from soil to air are an important missing component of the Amazonian ecosystem.

“In previous studies, we found an ozone gradient in the Amazon forest with low levels near the soil. We thus suspected that an important source of reactive molecules removing the ozone was missing,” said Jonathan Williams, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry.

Sesquiterpenes react rapidly with ozone and can therefore impact the self-cleaning capacity of the atmosphere – a chemical process, whereby pollutants are removed from the air. The soil emissions are responsible for the depletion of about 50 percent of the ozone close to the forest floor which slows down the cleaning processes and can help pollinating insects find flowers via their scent. The scientists first collected soil samples from several different sites in the Amazon jungle. Then under controlled laboratory conditions, they added water to simulate rain, and watched for volatile emissions as the soil dried out. As the drying progressed, conditions in the soil changed to suit different communities of soil microbes, each of which emitted different characteristic chemicals including sesquiterpenes.

"We found very similar patterns of sesquiterpene emissions and microbial activity in the soil," says Thomas Behrendt, soil scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. Based on the experimental results, Stratos Bourtsoukidis, an atmospheric chemist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, developed a precise numerical model to predict the fluxes of sesquiterpenes between the soil and the atmosphere. When simulating the daily fluxes from a very common tropical soil and the canopy over a period of two years, Bourtsoukidis observed that sesquiterpene emissions from the soils in the dry season were at certain times as strong as canopy emissions. The study results show how important the connection between soil microbes and atmospheric chemistry is.

Original publication
Strong sesquiterpene emissions from Amazonian soils
E. Bourtsoukidis, T. Behrendt, A.M. Yañez-Serrano, H. Hellén, E. Diamantopoulos, E. Catão, K. Ash-worth, A. Pozzer, C.A. Quesada, D.L. Martins, M. Sá, A. Araujo, J. Brito, P. Artaxo, J. Kesselmeier, J. Lelieveld & J. Williams
Nature Communications, 8 June 2018, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04658-y

Dr. Thomas Behrendt
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
Telephone: +49-3641 57-6105

Dr. Iris Möbius
Press & PR ATTO
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
Telephone: +49-3641 57 6371

ATTO webpage

Press Release (pdf)

Workshop: Career development in academia
October 15, 2018

The one-day workshop is organized as part of our Career Step Network (CSN) at MPI-BGC. A local professional trainer will guide through the workshop that aims at supporting our junior scientists.

Science careers are demanding. But the biggest difficulty seems to be that it is somehow impossible to plan them to the end. On the other hand there are some rules one could use to plan at least the most important steps.

In this workshop we will talk about science careers in Germany in detail. The workshop will deal with the relevant steps from early Postdoc to the appointment to a chair. We will address the most important career steps and different career aims.

Questions to be adressed:
• What is the goal in science career – how far do I have to go in different science systems?
• What does it mean to become and to be professor in Germany?
• How does the so called “Berufungsverfahren” of new professors work?
• What should I do as Postdoc? How could I structure this career step?
• What are: Juniorprofessor, Tenure-Professor, Habilitation and W2- or W3-Professor?
• What are the achievements I need like publications, 3rd-party-funding, networks etc.?
• Which personal competencies (soft skills) do I need?
• What are the risks and difficulties? And how could I minimize my risks?
• What is meant by “scientific profile” and how could I develop my profile?
• How long could I stay and when might it become difficult to change to industry and other sectors?

Inconspicuous but important - lichens and mosses contribute to the global water cycle
July 30, 2018

Tree-growing lichens and mosses on Vancouver Island, Canada (Photo: Hartmut Thiel)
Media information of University Potsdam

Lichens and mosses are rather inconspicuous plants. They grow on rocks, walls or tree trunks. Researchers of the University of Potsdam, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena and the American Georgia Southern University have now discovered that these organisms absorb a significant part of the precipitation, which then evaporates directly back into the atmosphere. In doing so, lichens and mosses not only contribute decisively to the global water cycle, but also have a cooling effect on the regional temperature of the land surface. The results of the study have just been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Lichens and mosses are ubiquitous: In many cold and warm deserts they are the most common vegetation. They often grow as "sit-up plants" on trees in the humid forests of the tropics and the temperate zones. These organisms have the ability to accumulate large amounts of water. Therefore they serve as storage for precipitation, which does not reach the ground, but evaporates again. Scientists call the evaporation of precipitation before it seeps into the soil an interception. Not only lichens and mosses, but also leaf surfaces of trees, grasses, and shrubs contribute to interception. This is an important process that accounts for up to 30 percent of the global evaporation of water on land.

Using a computer model, the Potsdam researchers have discovered that lichens and mosses play a major role in global interception. The interception calculated with the model increased by 60 percent due to the influence of lichens and mosses. "This contribution has not yet been taken into account in global land surface models that simulate the water cycle and land surface temperature. If changes in the global biomass of lichens and mosses should occur in the course of climate change or land use change, this will probably also have an impact on the global water cycle and the land surface temperature," said Dr. Philipp Porada of the University of Potsdam.

Original publication
Significant contribution of non-vascular vegetation to global rainfall interception
Porada, P., Van Stan II, J. T., Kleidon, A. (2018) Nature Geoscience.
doi: 10.1038/s41561-018-0176-7.

Contact at University Potsdam, Institute oür Biochemistry and Biologie:
Dr. Philipp Porada
Phone: 0331 977-1959

Contact at MPI for Biogeochemistry:
Dr. Axel Kleidon
Phone: 03641 57-6217

Link to the publication

Ehrendoktorwürde für Prof. Ernst-Detlef Schulze
June 13, 2018


Klima-Aliens: Auch Außerirdische planen Energiewende
June 15, 2018


Als die Forstwirte von Münden nach Göttingen umzogen
June 7, 2018


Wissenschaftler erforschen größte Methanquelle Europas
June 1, 2018


Wie viel Kohlendioxid kann die Erde noch schlucken?
April 24, 2018


Multiple facets of biodiversity drive the diversity–stability relationship
August 28, 2018

Aerial view of the Jena experiment, one of the study sites (by M. Heimann, MPI-BGC)
Press release from our partner iDiv, on a publication involving MPI-BGC members Jens Kattge and Gerhard Bönisch

Multiple facets of biodiversity reduce variability of grassland biomass production

A new study shows that, in addition to species richness, plant evolutionary history plays a critical role in regulating year-to-year variation of biomass production in grasslands. In the face of climate change, understanding the causes of variability in key ecosystem services such as biomass production is essential. A team of researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), University of Göttingen, and Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F) has published the results in Nature Ecology and Evolution. They show that multiple factors, including biodiversity and climate, jointly reduce annual variation in grassland productivity.

Biodiversity is much more than just counting species; it also includes diversity in how plants function and in the history of how they have evolved. Despite the growing appreciation for biodiversity and its role in buffering the impacts of vital ecosystem services, these other aspects of biodiversity are frequently overlooked. An international team of researchers examined how multiple facets of biodiversity contribute to year-to-year variation in grassland biomass production. The researchers measured biomass, which is the dry weight of plant matter (including grassland and other species). “We show that grassland communities with high species richness and high diversity in evolutionary history show reduced variation in biomass production,” says Dylan Craven, lead author of the study, who summarised the results of the sTability synthesis workshop at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). He is now postdoctoral researcher at the University of Göttingen. “Our results suggest that greater diversity in evolutionary history makes biomass production in grasslands more stable because these communities are less vulnerable to herbivore attacks or pathogen outbreaks.”

The researchers also found that biomass production of plant communities dominated by slow-growing species typically varied less. Peter Manning, the senior author of the study, says : “We were surprised by these results because we had expected that communities with a greater diversity in characteristics related to plant growth rates would have more stable biomass production, but actually species richness as measured by evolutionary history and genetic diversity were better predictors.” However, the researchers caution that lower year-to-year variation does not imply that grasslands will be more productive, and that measures of stability that consider over- and under-production may be more relevant for agro ecological applications.

Original publication:
Dylan Craven, Nico Eisenhauer, William D. Pearse, Yann Hautier, Forest Isbell, Christiane Roscher, Michael Bahn, Carl Beierkuhnlein, Gerhard Bönisch, Nina Buchmann, Chaeho Byun, Jane A. Catford, Bruno E. L. Cerabolini, J. Hans C. Cornelissen, Joseph M. Craine, Enrica De Luca, Anne Ebeling, John N. Griffin, Andy Hector, Jes Hines, Anke Jentsch, Jens Kattge, Jürgen Kreyling, Vojtech Lanta, Nathan Lemoine, Sebastian T. Meyer, Vanessa Minden, Vladimir Onipchenko, H. Wayne Polley, Peter B. Reich, Jasper van Ruijven, Brandon Schamp, Melinda D. Smith, Nadejda A. Soudzilovskaia, David Tilman, Alexandra Weigelt, Brian Wilsey & Peter Manning (2018): Multiple facets of biodiversity drive the diversity-stability relationship. Nature Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0647-7

Contact at MPI-BGC:
Dr. Jens Kattge
phone: +49 3641 57 6226
email: jkattge(at)

Link to paper

Fine roots of the trees are significantly younger than expected
September 4, 2018

Annual rings in cross sections of fine roots (Image author: Dr. Emily Solly, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Switzerland)
International researchers used a new method to determine the age of fine roots with which trees absorb water and nutrients. In the recently published study, they found that the already short-lived fine roots are on average 10 years younger than previously assumed. In conventional analyses, roots appear older, since trees can also use older carbon from storage organs to form roots. The research team, with the participation of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, suspects a survival strategy for trees for dry periods behind this type of carbon utilization.

For the English press release, please visit the webpage of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL:

Original publication
Solly, E. F., Brunner, I., Helmisaari, H.-S., Herzog, C., Leppälammi-Kujansuu, J., Schöning, I., Schrumpf, M., Schweingruber, F. H., Trumbore, S. E., Hagedorn, F. (2018). Unravelling the age of fine roots of temperate and boreal forests. Nature Communications, 9(1).

Contact at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry:
Dr. Marion Schrumpf, group leader Soil Biogeochemistry
Phone: +49 3641 57 6182, E-mail:

Dr. Ingo Schöning, scientist
Phone: +49 3641 57 6191, E-mail:

Prof Susan Trumbore, director, department Biogeochemical Processes
Phone: +49 3641 57 6110, E-mail:

Link to the original publication
English press release by WSL

Drought hits rivers first and more strongly than agriculture
September 6, 2018

Before crops wither and agriculture is affected, runoff and hence water resources are impacted. (Photo: Andrea Carri, distributed via,
A new study by researchers from Germany and Sweden has revealed the development of drought impacts, like in this summer, across Europe. The study shows that persisting and accumulating precipitation deficits cause decreased soil moisture within days and lower stream flows within weeks, while vegetation and crops can remain unaffected for several months.

The study reports that droughts develop slowly and have delayed and multi-faceted impacts. As such, the full drought phenomenon and its consequences are usually not readily perceived, in contrast to faster developing extreme weather events, like floods or heat waves. “With the persistent rainfall deficit this summer across large parts of Western Europe, drought has recently become more perceivable. It has already caused serious societal and ecosystem impacts along its development pathways.” says René Orth, group leader at Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.

The study reveals these typical drought development pathways: rainfall deficits propagate first through soil moisture reductions, then to river runoff depletions, and finally cause impacts on vegetation and crop yields. Deciphering this partitioning of water deficits across different parts of the freshwater system is a crucial step forward in mitigation strategies, as the respective water anomalies threaten different societal sectors and ecosystems.

The researchers suggest that drought response measures need to be tailored based on their new findings on drought development: Early into a drought, response measures should focus on adapting to low(er) stream flows by more efficiently using and storing water. Further into the drought, the focus should be on irrigation support of essential crops and vegetation, while balancing and temporarily limiting other water uses. “Such improved drought management might become even more relevant in the future, with possibly increasing drought frequency and/or magnitude as the climate changes” says Georgia Destouni, Professor at Stockholm University in Sweden.

The study was conducted by René Orth (, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, and Georgia Destouni (, Professor at Stockholm University, Sweden.

Additional information can be found in the journal paper:
Orth R, Destouni G, 2018. Drought reduces blue-water fluxes more strongly than green-water fluxes in Europe.
Nature Communications 9, 3602 (2018)

Dr. René Orth
Ph: +49 3641 576250

Link to the publication

Better understanding of nature needed to steer us away from “Hothouse Earth”
September 7, 2018

ICOS Flask and Calibration Laboritory in Jena: FTIR Spectrometer
Tilting the climate to a “hothouse Earth” state can only be prevented if we understand how the Earth is breathing, states ICOS, the Integrated Carbon Observation System. Standardised long-term observations on how greenhouse gases circulate between land, air and sea increase our knowledge on how carbon pollution and nature’s processes influence the climate change. This is crucial when deciding on actions to slow down the global warming.

A group of leading scientists warn in a recently published article that the combined consequences of 10 already ongoing climate change processes could cause a domino effect and lock the Earth in an extremely hot state, “hothouse”. Examples of such processes are loss of sea-ice, dying of boreal forests and permafrost thawing. The scientists argue that once a certain threshold is crossed, stabilising the Earth we know today might not be possible anymore regardless of our actions.

Many of these 10 climate change processes are linked to the way carbon circulates between land, air and sea. They all also have tipping points that once passed, lead the Earth into a new irreversible state. There might even be more of such tipping points than what the scientists have found so far. To understand the ongoing processes and to recognize new ones, a comprehensive Earth observation system is needed.

We need standardised observations across the countries and even continents

“We need data from observations to understand the complex processes behind these tipping points. Since greenhouse gases drive climate change, it is critical to understand how these gases circulate, what produces them and what reduces their amounts in the atmosphere. Key to this understanding are observations, which follow the highest standards, span over tens of years and across the countries and even continents. Well organised research frameworks ensure that scientists and societies have this data in their disposal,” says Dr. Werner Kutsch, Director General of ICOS Integrated Carbon Observation System.

ICOS facilitates greenhouse gas measurements in Europe, where 12 participating countries have jointly built a network of over 130 stations observing greenhouse gases across the continent. ICOS data provides a comprehensive view on the greenhouse gases produced by a humans, but also of their natural sources and sinks.

“A comprehensive view is crucial since the atmosphere is in the end integrating everything. This study alarms us, but also confirms that we are on the right track to observe natural ecosystems as well as people-related sources. Being unique in uniting atmospheric, ecosystem and ocean observations, ICOS confirms the European leadership in greenhouse gas observations,” states Dr. Kutsch.

Dr. Kutsch is therefore looking forward to the 3rd ICOS Science Conference held in September in Prague, Czech Repbulic, where leading scientists from the greenhouse gas research field from all over the world will meet. Besides purely scientific and technical topics, the attendees will also discuss how we can close the gap between science and policy-makers to ensure the Earth is steered away from a potential threshold before it is too late.

For more information:

Dr. Werner Kutsch, Director General
ICOS, Integrated Carbon Observation System
Phone: +358 50 4484598

Katri Ahlgren, Head of Communications
ICOS, Integrated Carbon Observation System
Phone: +358 40 3502557

Press Accrediation to the ICOS Science Conference, Sep 11-14, in Prague:
Please contact Katri Ahlgren, details above.

The Integrated Carbon Observation System, ICOS, is a European-wide greenhouse gas research infrastructure. ICOS produces standardised data on greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, as well as on carbon carbon circulation between the atmosphere, the earth and oceans. This information is being used by scientists as well as by decision makers for predicting and mitigating climate change. The ICOS data is based on the measurements from 134 stations across 12 European countries. The international organization is financed by its member countries.

ICOS Science Conference held September 11-14, in Prague Czech Republic. The ICOS conference gathers more than 300 scientists to discuss the scientific topics around greenhouse gas measurement and climate change. The themes of the conference vary from purely scientific sessions to ones related to the Paris Agreement and other policy making.

Webpage ICOS
Webpage Flask and Calibration Laboratory
Link to the conference

Measuring species traits for biodiversity policy goals
September 18, 2018

Mature cods of different sizes; measuring intra-specific variation of body sizes in fish can give important insights into population changes. Picture: Jan Dierking.
(Adapted from a press release by Australian National University)

Management of global biodiversity requires up-to-date, reliable, comparable, and repeated biodiversity data. Such monitoring is achieved on a global level by using Essential Biodiversity Variables. In a new perspective paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution, biodiversity researchers show how trait variability within species can be incorporated in Essential Biodiversity Variables. Including such trait variability will enable the assessment of how organisms respond to global change. This information is also crucial for international policy goals on biodiversity, according to the authors, among them iDiv researchers Jens Kattge from MPI-BGC, Nadja Rüdiger and Laetitia Navarro.

In order to understand how biodiversity is changing worldwide, it needs to be monitored with common units of measure at different locations. To establish such common units is a central goal of GEO BON, the Group On Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network. About five years ago, GEO BON has initiated the concept of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) to derive globally coordinated measurements that are critical for detecting and reporting biodiversity change. Just like the Essential Climate Variables, EBVs are constructed from various sources of data and constitute the minimum set of information needed to assess biodiversity change through time. EBVs are also the building blocks of indicators that can be used to measure the achievement of conservation policies and targets. As such, EBVs play an important role in biodiversity related policy decisions.

Species traits

A classical measure of biodiversity is the number of species at a given location. To get a better picture, however, researchers need to complement species numbers with other measurable aspects of biodiversity, e.g. the variation of traits within a given species. As an example, size is such a variable trait within a taxonomic unit. It describes a specific characteristic of plants, animals or other organisms that can vary within a population between individuals and also between different populations. It can vary with time, in particular in response to environmental change.

The recent publication in Nature Ecology and Evolution, authored by a group of more than twenty scientific experts, describes the requirements for developing the EBV class ‘Species Traits’. It can cover measurable variations in, e.g., phenology, morphology, reproduction, physiology or migratory behaviour. The concept results from a workshop in March 2017 where three researchers of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Jens Kattge, Nadja Rüger and Laetitia Navarro met with other international experts.

W. Daniel Kissling, lead author of the paper and researcher at the University of Amsterdam says: ‘Currently there is no detailed framework for the empirical derivation of most EBVs. In our paper, we provide a conceptual framework with practical guidelines for building global, integrated and reusable EBV data products of species traits. This facilitates the monitoring of intra-specific trait changes in response to global change and human pressures, with the aim to use species trait information in national and international policy assessments.’

Co-author Jens Kattge, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena and researcher at iDiv, leads the recently established GEO BON working group on species traits. He adds: “So far species traits are successfully used in local biodiversity assessments: reduced size of mature individuals in the catch of fish and in the harvest of trees indicates overexploitation of these natural resources; reduced foliation and leaf nutrient concentration indicates forest stress, e.g. due to acid rain; changes of bird migration patterns and plant phenology indicate species responses to climate change.”

„This publication is an important milestone for GEO BON as, until recently, we didn’t have a dedicated group working on the development of the Species Traits EBVs. Now the group is set up and can build on the paper to define its roadmap“ says Laetitia Navarro, Executive Secretary at GEO BON and researcher at iDiv and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, and adds: „Understanding how species traits might vary, in space and time, and when populations and ecosystems are confronted with human pressure, is also important for our own well-being since those traits can be directly linked to several ecosystem services.“

Biodiversity policy

The international research team assessed the societal relevance of species traits and highlighted their underrepresentation in current international biodiversity change indicators. These indicators are used to assess policy targets at a global scale, such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set by the Convention for Biological Diversity. Kissling: “I was surprised that there is such a lack of species trait information in in these international policy assessments of biodiversity change. We outline the steps needed for data-intensive science and effective global coordination to advance the inclusion of species trait information into indicators of biodiversity change, and how collected trait data can be shared in an open and machine-readable way.”

Making biodiversity data available for policy assessments requires substantial financial and in kind investments from universities, research infrastructures, governments, space agencies and other funding bodies. As a positive example for such support, the ground-breaking workshop had been organized within the H2020 project GLOBIS-B “GLOBal Infrastructure for Supporting Biodiversity research” funded by the European Commission ( Kissling emphasizes: “The operationalization requires not only more funding, but also a cultural shift towards more openness, interoperability and reproducibility within the broader science community.”

Jens Kattge
Head of the Research Group Functional Biogeography
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Laetitia Navarro
Executive Secretary GEO BON
German center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

W. Daniel Kissling
Head of Biogeography & Macroecology (BIOMAC) lab & Associate Professor of Quantitative Biodiversity
University of Amsterdam (UvA)

Webpage Functional Biogeography

New plants on the block: Taller species are taking over in a warming Arctic
September 26, 2018

The height of tundra plant communities has increased over the last 30 years. © Anne Bjorkman
Joint media release of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Until now, the Arctic tundra has been the domain of low-growing grasses and dwarf shrubs. Defying the harsh conditions, these plants huddle close to the ground and often grow only a few centimeters high. But new, taller plant species have been slowly taking over this chilly neighborhood, report an international group of nearly 130 biologists led by scientists from the German Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) today in Nature. This has led to an overall increase in the height of tundra plant communities over the past three decades.

The study, initiated by a team of researchers supported through the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), analyzed the most comprehensive data set on plants in the Arctic tundra available. "The data set includes data from almost 120 tundra areas in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, and Siberia, where the growth height and other plant characteristics were measured," says Jens Kattge, coordinator of the TRY database at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, which contributed significantly to the data set.

"The increase in height we saw was not just in a few sites but nearly everywhere," says lead author Dr. Anne Bjorkman, who now works at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and who conducted the study at the iDiv research centre, the University of Edinburgh, and Aarhus University.

The researchers identify climate warming as the underlying cause. Temperatures in the Arctic have risen by about 1 degree Celsius in summer and 1.5 degrees in winter over the three decades covered by the study, some of the fastest rates of warming on the planet.

A detailed analysis showed that not only do individual plants grow taller with warmer temperatures, but that the plant community itself has also shifted. “Taller plant species, either from warmer pockets within the tundra or from southern areas, have spread across the tundra”, says Dr. Nadja Rüger, a scientist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and at Leipzig University and a co-author of the study.

This move is far from over, as Bjorkman points out: “If taller plants continue to spread at the current rate, the plant community height could increase by 20 to 60% by the end of the century.” Surprisingly, the researchers found no evidence that this “invasion” of taller species is currently leading to a decline in shorter species.

Arctic regions have long been a focus for climate change research, as the permafrost underlying tundra vegetation contains one-third to half of the world’s soil carbon. When the permafrost thaws, greenhouse gases could thus be released.

An increase in taller plants could speed up this process as taller plants trap more snow in winter, which insulates the underlying soil and prevents it from freezing quickly and deeply in winter. “Although there are still many uncertainties, taller tundra plants could fuel climate change, both in the Arctic and for the planet as a whole”, Bjorkman concludes.

In contrast to plant height, researchers found that six other measures, such as the size of leaves and their nitrogen content, showed no consistent change over the last thirty years. These other plant characteristics were strongly influenced by moisture levels in addition to temperature.

The researchers conclude that the response of the plant community as a whole to climate warming will depend on whether the tundra becomes wetter or drier over time. Rüger says: “In order to predict how the plant community in the tundra will react in the future, it is necessary to not only take into account alterations in temperature, but also in water availability. If precipitation or the water cycle change, or if the timing of snowmelt shifts, this may have severe effects on the tundra vegetation.”

Original publication:
Anne D. Bjorkman, Isla H. Myers-Smith, Sarah C. Elmendorf, Signe Normand, Nadja Rüger, Pieter S. A. Beck, Anne Blach-Overgaard, Daan Blok, J. Hans C. Cornelissen, Bruce C. Forbes, Damien Georges, Scott J. Goetz, Kevin Guay, Gregory H. R. Henry, Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, Robert D. Hollister, Dirk N. Karger, Jens Kattge, Peter Manning, Janet S. Prevéy, Christian Rixen, Gabriela Schaepman-Strub, Haydn J. D. Thomas, Mark Vel-lend, Martin Wilmking, Sonja Wipf, Michele Carbognani, Luise Hermanutz, Esther Lévesque, Ulf Molau, A-lessandro Petraglia, Nadejda A. Soudzilovskaia, Marko J. Spasojevic, Marcello Tomaselli, Tage Vowles, Juha M. Alatalo, Heather D. Alexander, Alba Anadon-Rosell, Sandra Angers-Blondin, Mariska te Beest, Logan Berner, Robert G. Björk, Agata Buchwal, Allan Buras, Katherine Christie, Elisabeth J. Cooper, Stefan Dullinger, Bo Elberling, Anu Eskelinen, Esther R. Frei, Oriol Grau, Paul Grogan, Martin Hallinger, Karen A. Harper, Monique M. P. D. Heijmans, James Hudson, Karl Hülber, Maitane Iturrate-Garcia, Colleen M. Iversen, Francesca Jaroszynska, Jill F. Johnstone, Rasmus Halfdan Jørgensen, Elina Kaarlejärvi, Rebecca Klady, Sara Kuleza, Aino Kulonen, Laurent J. Lamarque, Trevor Lantz, Chelsea J. Little, James D. M. Speed, Anders Mi-chelsen, Ann Milbau, Jacob Nabe-Nielsen, Sigrid Schøler Nielsen, Josep M. Ninot, Steven F. Oberbauer, Johan Olofsson, Vladimir G. Onipchenko, Sabine B. Rumpf, Philipp Semenchuk, Rohan Shetti, Laura Siegwart Collier, Lorna E. Street, Katharine Suding, Ken D. Tape, Andrew Trant, Urs A. Treier, Jean-Pierre Tremblay, Maxime Tremblay, Susanna Venn, Stef Weijers, Tara Zamin, Noemie Boulanger-Lapointe, William A. Gould, David S. Hik, Annika Hofgaard, Ingibjörg S. Jónsdóttir, Janet Jorgenson, Julia Klein, Borgthor Magnusson, Craig Tweedie, Philip A. Wookey, Michael Bahn, Benjamin Blonder, Peter M. van Bodegom, Benjamin Bond-Lamberty, Giandiego Campetella, Bruno E. L. Cerabolini, F. Stuart Chapin III, William K. Cornwell, Joseph Craine, Matteo Dainese, Franciska T. de Vries, Sandra Díaz, Brian J. Enquist, Walton Green, Ruben Milla, Ülo Niinemets, Yusuke Onoda, Jenny C. Ordoñez, Wim A. Ozinga, Josep Penuelas, Hendrik Poorter, Peter Poschlod, Peter B. Reich, Brody Sandel, Brandon Schamp, Serge Sheremetev & Evan Weiher (publiziert am 26. September 2018): Plant functional trait change across a warming tundra biome. Nature.
Doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0563-7.

Contact at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry:
Dr. Jens Kattge
Ph: +49 (0)3641 57 6226

Webpage iDiv
Research Group Functional Biogeography

Similar characteristics found in both domesticated and wild species
October 22, 2018

Wheat has been one of the most important cultivated crops for many thousands of years. (Photo: István Héjja, MPI-BGC)
Researchers from 19 Institutions, including the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemisty, have analysed and published the biological traits and evolutionary placement for a set of more than 1000 domesticated species around the world. This work provides the scientific community with a detailed database, which will permit to address new questions.

The species of plants and animals that we use for food provision, such as wheat or sheep, were formerly wild species, which underwent domestication since the late Paleolithic. In this context, a set of researchers has united efforts to build a global database on the evolution and biological traits of more than 1000 domesticated species. “We set up to address two objectives”, explains Ruben Milla, first author of the article “first, we asked if plant and animal domesticates belong to a few or to many evolutionary lineages and, second, we inquired if those species shared biological characteristics with their wild relatives”.

The main finding of the study is that the traits of domesticated species are a subgroup of those we find in wild species. For instances, even if agricultural species tend to yield big seeds, or livestock species tend to be large in size, those traits can also be found among wild species.

This work calls to amplify the search for new species that can be used as human food in the future. The results could be used to pinpoint which are the relevant traits of food species, and in this way facilitate the search of wild species that portray such characteristics.

Food species in the tree of life

An additional contribution of the study is the finding that food plants come from very diverse evolutionary origins, whereas livestock animals belong to a few linages. “Even if some of the main agricultural crops belong to a few botanical families, such as the legumes or the grasses, we find food plants in many other evolutionary linages of plants”, says Jens Kattge, coordinator of the TRY database which supplied trait data. Thus, this study will provide the scientific community with a valuable database on food species and their wild relatives, which will enable future research in this area.

Rubén Milla, Jesús M. Bastida, Martin M. Turcotte, Glynis Jones, Cyrille Violle, Colin P. Osborne, Julia Chacón-Labella, Ênio E. Sosinski Jr, Jens Kattge, Daniel C. Laughlin, Estelle Forey, Vanessa Minden, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen, Bernard Amiaud, Koen Kramer, Gerhard Boenisch, Tianhua He, Valério D. Pillar and Chaeho Byun (2018)
Phylogenetic patterns and phenotypic profiles of the species of plants and mammals farmed for food.
Nature Ecology & Evolution. doi10.1038/s41559-018-0690-4

Contact at MPI for Biogeochemistry
Dr. Jens Kattge
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 6226

Link to the publication

Round table discussion of DKN on societal resilience and climate extremes
November 15 - November 16, 2018

Climate extremes are one of the major future threats to society, as recognized by several international bodies. Yet, it is difficult to conceive the question:
Which instabilities, tipping points and risk cascades are most likely emerging from the interaction of future climate extremes with ecological and societal systems?.

Invited participants from research, industry, institutions, and authorities will discuss among other things the following issues:

What are the main challenges that extreme events pose for different sectors?

What are the main obstacles to social resilience regarding extreme events?

The round table is organized by Markus Reichstein and Dorothea Frank from Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and will take place within the framework of the German Committee Future Earth (DKN) working group on “Societal resilience and climate extremes”.

Webpage German Committee Future Earth
Webpage working group

Earth System PhD Conference (ESPC 2019)
March 13 - March 15, 2019

The Earth System PhD Conference ESPC 2019 conference will be hosted by PhD students affiliated with the Earth System Research Partnership of the Max Planck Society.

The event will take place from March 13 to 15, 2019 at MPI for Biogeochemistry in Jena.

The young Earth system scientists will discuss about how natural processes and anthropogenic activities affect the Earth system. A workshop on skills and methods of Earth system research as well as an excursion complete the program.

Conference Webpage


Global Carbon Budget 2018 just published
December 6, 2018

Source: Global Carbon Budget 2018
The yearly assessment of the global carbon budget is not only relevant to unravel the global carbon cycle but also to underpin climate policies and to predict future climate development. The budget components such as fossil CO2 emissions, atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the ocean and terrestrial sinks as well as imbalances have just been released in the open access journal Earth System Science Data (see below, Le Quéré et al., 2018).

Sönke Zaehle and Christian Rödenbeck, both scientists from Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, have contributed with improving dynamic global vegetation models and assessing the ocean CO2 exchange from data.

The Global Carbon Project is a large international research project and part of the Future Earth initiative on global sustainability. It strives to develop a comprehensive picture of the global carbon cycle, making available up-to-date estimations of global CO2 emissions and sinks as well as information on the state of the climate system by taking into account both its biophysical and anthropogenic dimensions.

The primary reference for Carbon Budget 2018 is:

Global Carbon Budget 2018, by Corinne Le Quéré, Robbie M. Andrew, Pierre Friedlingstein, Stephen Sitch, Judith Hauck, Julia Pongratz, Penelope A. Pickers, Jan Ivar Korsbakken, Glen P. Peters, Josep G. Canadell, Almut Arneth, Vivek K. Arora, Leticia Barbero, Ana Bastos, Laurent Bopp, Frédéric Chevallier, Louise P. Chini, Philippe Ciais, Scott C. Doney, Thanos Gkritzalis, Daniel S. Goll, Ian Harris, Vanessa Haverd, Forrest M. Hoffman, Mario Hoppema, Richard A. Houghton, George Hurtt, Tatiana Ilyina, Atul K. Jain, Truls Johannessen, Chris D. Jones, Etsushi Kato, Ralph F. Keeling, Kees Klein Goldewijk, Peter Landschützer, Nathalie Lefèvre, Sebastian Lienert, Zhu Liu, Danica Lombardozzi, Nicolas Metzl, David R. Munro, Julia E. M. S. Nabel, Shin-ichiro Nakaoka, Craig Neill, Are Olsen, Tsueno Ono, Prabir Patra, Anna Peregon, Wouter Peters, Philippe Peylin, Benjamin Pfeil, Denis Pierrot, Benjamin Poulter, Gregor Rehder, Laure Resplandy, Eddy Robertson, Matthias Rocher, Christian Rödenbeck, Ute Schuster, Jörg Schwinger, Roland Séférian, Ingunn Skjelvan, Tobias Steinhoff, Adrienne Sutton, Pieter P. Tans, Hanqin Tian, Bronte Tilbrook, Francesco N. Tubiello, Ingrid T. van der Laan-Luijkx, Guido R. van der Werf, Nicolas Viovy, Anthony P. Walker, Andrew J. Wiltshire, Rebecca Wright, Sönke Zaehle, and Bo Zheng (2018)
Earth System Science Data, 10, 1-54, 2018, DOI: 10.5194/essd-10-2141-2018.

Contact at MPI for Biogeochemistry
Dr. Sönke Zaehle
MPI for Biogeochemistry
07745 Jena, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)3641-57 6230

Link to the Global Carbon Budget 2018
Link to the publication

Forsche Schüler am MPI für Biogeochemie
March 28, 2019

Drohnen für die Forschung (Foto: S. Héjja)
Forsche Schüler am MPI für Biogeochemie

Liebe Schülerinnen und Schüler,
Ihr seid herzlich eingeladen, am Donnerstag, den 28. März 2019 einen Blick hinter unsere Kulissen zu werfen und die Forschung an unserem Institut kennen zu lernen. Bringt Forschergeist mit und wir freuen uns darauf, gemeinsam mit Euch zu experimentieren.

09:00 Begrüßung, kurze Institutsvorstellung und Hinweise zum Programm
09:15 2 Promovierende stellen sich und ihr Forschungsthema vor
09:45 kurze Pause, Aufteilung der Gruppen
10:00 bis 13:00 Projekte

13:30 Abschlussveranstaltung im Abbe-Zentrum

Die Veranstaltung endet gegen 14 Uhr.

Projekte am Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

Um an unseren Projekten teilnehmen zu können, solltest Du mindestens die 8. Klasse besuchen!

Projekt 1ALLE Plätze sind belegt
Drohnen für atmosphärische Messungen
Multikopter, besser bekannt als "Drohnen", sind faszinierende Fluggeräte. Viele Menschen nutzen sie in ihrer Freizeit, um Fotos und Videos aus der Vogelperspektive aufzunehmen oder um Rennen damit zu fliegen. Aber Multikopter können noch viel mehr: sie liefern wissenschaftliche Daten, wenn sie mit den richtigen Geräten ausgerüstet werden. Gemeinsam bauen wir einen kleinen Multikopter so um, dass er die Temperatur, den Druck und die relative Feuchte der Umgebungsluft messen kann und führen damit Messungen in verschiedenen Höhen durch. Außerdem lernst du, wie diese Fluggeräte funktionieren und was du bei ihrem Einsatz beachten solltest.

Projekt 2 Noch Plätze frei!
Flora Incognita – die App zur Pflanzenbestimmung
Mit unserer Flora Incognita App könnt Ihr unsere heimischen Blütenpflanzen ganz allein bestimmen. Wir zeigen Euch, wie Ihr die Pflanzen am besten fotografiert und so zu Hobbybotaniker*Innen werdet. Gleichzeitig könnt dabei mithelfen, unsere Bilddatenbank zum Training unserer Bilderkennungstechniken zu bestücken. Bitte bringt Euer Smartphone mit!

Antrag auf Freistellung vom Unterricht

Noble Talks at Beutenberg Campus
May 16, 2019

In the public lecture series "Noble Gespräche" on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 5 p.m. in the lecture hall of the Abbe Center Beutenberg:

Prof. Dr. Detlef Weigel, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, will report on

"Changing climate - changing vegetation"

Prof. Weigel investigates the genetic variation of plants and investigates how plants adapt to a constantly changing environment in the short and long term. His work on the regulation of the flowering time and the role of microRNAs in development as well as his studies on the adaptability of plant species are of great importance for both basic research and plant breeding.

Within this event, the scientific prizes "Life Sciences and Physics" of the Beutenberg Campus e.V. will be awarded.
The lecture will be in German language.

Beutenberg Campus e.V., Noble Gespräche

How predatory plankton created modern ecosystems after ‘Snowball Earth’
January 29, 2019

Lennart van Maldegem on the Nankoweap Butte, Grand Canyon National Park, USA. ©Pierre Sansjofre
Around 635 to 720 million years ago, during Earth’s most severe glacial period, the Earth was twice almost completely covered by ice, according to current hypotheses. The question of how life survived these ‘Snowball Earth’ glaciations, lasting up to about 50 million years, has occupied the most eminent scientists for many decades. An international team, led by Dutch and German researchers of the Max Planck Society, now found the first detailed glimpse of life after the ‘Snowball' in the form of newly discovered ancient molecules, buried in old rocks.

‘All higher animal life forms, including us humans, produce cholesterol. Algae and bacteria produce their own characteristic fat molecules.’ says first author Lennart van Maldegem from Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biogeochemistry, who recently moved to the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. ‘Such fat molecules can survive in rocks for millions of years, as the oldest (chemical) remnants of organisms, and tell us now what type of life thrived in the former oceans long ago’.

But the fossil fats the researchers recently discovered in Brazilian rocks, deposited just after the last Snowball glaciation, were not what they suspected. ‘Absolutely not’, says team-leader Christian Hallmann from MPI for Biogeochemistry, ‘we were completely puzzled, because these molecules looked quite different from what we’ve ever seen before!’ Using sophisticated separation techniques, the team managed to purify minuscule amounts of the mysterious molecule and identify its structure by nuclear magnetic resonance in the NMR department of Christian Griesinger at Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. ‘This is highly remarkable itself’ according to Klaus Wolkenstein from MPI for Biophysical Chemistry and the Geoscience Centre of the University of Göttingen: ‘Never has a structure been elucidated with such a small amount of such an old molecule.’ The structure was chemically identified as 25,28-bisnorgammacerane — abbreviated as BNG, as van Maldegem suggests.

Yet the origin of the compound remained enigmatic. ‘We of course looked if we could find it elsewhere.’ says van Maldegem, who then studied hundreds of ancient rock samples, with rather surprising success. ‘In particular the Grand Canyon rocks really were an eye-opener.’ says Hallmann. Although nowadays mostly sweltering hot, these rocks had also been buried under kilometres of glacial ice around 700 million years ago. Detailed additional analyses of molecules in Grand Canyon rocks—including presumed BNG-precursors, the distribution of steroids and stable carbon isotopic patterns—led the authors to conclude that the new BNG molecule most likely derives from heterotrophic plankton, marine microbes that rely on consuming other organisms for gaining energy. 'Unlike for example green algae that engage in photosynthesis and thus belong to autotrophic organisms, these heterotrophic microorganisms were true predators that gained energy by hunting and devouring other algae and bacteria’, according to van Maldegem.

While predation is common amongst plankton in modern oceans, the discovery that it was so prominent 635 million years ago, exactly after the Snowball Earth glaciation, is a big deal for the science community. ‘Parallel to the occurrence of the enigmatic BNG molecule we observe the transition from a world whose oceans contained virtually only bacteria, to a more modern Earth system containing many more algae. We think that massive predation helped to ‘clear’ out the bacteria-dominated oceans and make space for algae’ , says van Maldegem. The resulting more complex feeding networks provided the dietary requirements for larger, more intricate lifeforms to evolve—including the lineages that all animals, and eventually we humans, derive from. The massive onset of predation probably played a crucial role in the transformation of our planet and its ecosystems to its present state.

Original publication:
Lennart M. van Maldegem, Pierre Sansjofre, Johan W. H. Weijers, Klaus Wolkenstein, Paul K. Strother, Lars Wörmer, Jens Hefter, Benjamin J. Nettersheim, Yosuke Hoshino, Stefan Schouten, Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté, Nilamoni Nath, Christian Griesinger, Nikolay B. Kuznetsov, Marcel Elie, Marcus Elvert, Erik Tegelaar, Gerd Gleixner, Christian Hallmann (2019).
Bisnorgammacerane traces predatory pressure and the persistent rise of algal ecosystems after Snowball Earth
Nature Communications 10:476, DOI 10.1038/s41467-019-08306-x

Christian Hallmann
Max Planck Research Group Leader
University Bremen, Building IW-3
Am Biologischen Garten 2
28359 Bremen, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)421 218 65 820

Lennart van Maldegem
Present address: Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University,
39 Building 142 Mills Road Acton, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

Link to the publication (open access)
Additional photos for the press

Press release for download

Wind energy supplies almost three quarters of expected electrical energy
February 6, 2019

Wind turbines are getting more and bigger. This is another reason why their share of generating electricity in Germany has risen to 9.1 percent by 2014 - equivalent to 58.9 terawatt hours. Wind turbines near Coppanz, Thuringia (© Axel Kleidon)
Ageing and slipstream effects restrict the actual yield – 20 percent of the difference remains unclear

The energy transformation in Germany has just reached a new record. In 2018, almost 40 percent of the generated energy came from renewable sources, 17 percent of which came from wind energy. Thus, wind energy contributes to the energy mix in about the same proportion as is to be expected under the wind conditions in Germany. This was determined by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, who compared the potential and the actually obtained energy output of the wind turbines.

Even just looking at some wind parks can give cause for skepticism: Individual turbines are often at a standstill. This impression doesn't line up with the notion that wind energy must be used intensively in order to meet the needs of the energy transformation. It is against this background that scientists have been increasingly questioning in recent years whether the anticipated contribution of wind energy to the energy mix may perhaps be over-estimated. Sonja Germer and Axel Kleidon, who conduct research at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, have determined that wind turbines in Germany supply about 73 percent of the theoretically attainable energy. "Based on our studies, the turbines largely make effective use of the wind and thus contribute to the success of the energy transformation," says Axel Kleidon.

In their study, which covers the period from 2000 to 2014, the researchers combined data from the German Meteorological Service (DWD) regarding wind fields and information about the sites and technical properties of the wind turbines. They were able to determine how much power the turbines can ideally generate given the prevailing wind conditions. Accordingly, the efficiency of wind turbines that is to be expected under ideal conditions, i.e. the ratio of actual power output to the ability of the generators to generate electrical power, is about 25 percent or around 2300 full load hours per year. "This expected efficiency seems comparatively low," says Axel Kleidon. "However, it is the result of the uneven distribution of wind speeds." Half the time, winds in Germany are less than 20 kilometres per hour, so that turbines during this time can only use 10 percent of their capacity or less.

In 2014, the share of wind energy in electricity generation was 9.1 percent.

The researchers compared the anticipated electricity yield under these conditions for about a quarter of the wind turbines for which data was available with the actual power output. The researchers also examined which factors reduce the power output actually generated by the wind turbines. According to this, the ageing of the wind turbines reduced the yield in 2014 by close to seven percent. This is also due to the fact that the average age of wind turbines in Germany rose from 3.8 years to 10.8 years in the period from 2000 to 2014. Since turbines in wind parks are often located in the wake of other turbines, the yield is reduced by about two percent. However, the scientists also observed a constant difference between the actual and ideal yields of up to 20 percent that they cannot explain. The different contributions with which the scientists explain the discrepancy cannot, however, simply be summed up as the relationship between the factors is non-linear.

The difference between expected and actual yield was then used by the researchers to determine the actual yield of all wind turbines in Germany. The generated yield has risen from 9.1 to 58.9 terawatt hours between 2000 and 2014. This corresponds to a share of 1.6 percent of the electricity generation in Germany in 2000 and 9.1 percent in 2014. These numbers line up very well with the data that the Federal Minister of Economics and Energy has published regarding the performance of wind energy systems in Germany.

The influence of reduced wind speeds is not yet noticeable.

In earlier studies, the scientists calculated that as more turbines are installed in an area, the efficiency of wind turbines would drop. Given such intensive use, the wind speeds should drop, because every turbine removes part of the wind's energy. "We expected that we should already be able to find such a trend in some regions of Germany," says Axel Kleidon, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena.

That is why, for their new study, the researchers examined the years 2000 to 2014 as it was a period during which the number of wind turbines in Germany increased from almost 9,000 to more than 25,000. Since the turbines during the same period clearly improved in capacity – for example, the rotor diameter on average increased from 42 to 66 meter – the average capacity increased from 611 to 1453 kilowatt. The installed capacity increased from 5.7 gigawatt to 37.6 gigawatt. "The difference between the expected and the actual power yield has remained relatively constant over the years," says Sonja Germer, scientific researcher in the task group. The researchers did not find any drop in efficiency linked to the increased number of turbines. "We probably don't use enough wind energy yet to be able to see the influence of reduced wind speeds clearly enough," says Sonja Germer.

Original publication
Sonja Germer and Axel Kleidon (2019) Have wind turbines in Germany generated electricity as would be expected from the prevailing wind conditions in 2000-2014? PLOS ONE.

Axel Kleidon
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena, Germany
Telephone: +49 3641 57 6217
Mobile: +49 170-9260144

Link to the publication

Press release for download (pdf)

Artificial Intelligence to boost Earth system science
February 14, 2019

Climate-driven CO2 exchange: The spectral colors show the anomalies in the CO2 exchange on land during El Nino years. FLUXNET data have been upscaled by machine learning. Radiation anomalies are shown in red, temperature anomalies in green and water anomalies in blue. (© Martin Jung)
A study by German scientists from Jena and Hamburg, published today in the journal Nature, shows that artificial intelligence (AI) can substantially improve our understanding of the climate and the Earth system. Especially the potential of deep learning has only partially been exhausted so far. In particular, complex dynamic processes such as hurricanes, fire propagation, and vegetation dynamics can be better described with the help of AI. As a result, climate and Earth system models will be improved, with new models combining artificial intelligence and physical modeling.

In the past decades mainly static attributes have been investigated using machine learning approaches, such as the distribution of soil properties from the local to the global scale. For some time now, it has been possible to tackle more dynamic processes by using more sophisticated deep learning techniques. This allows for example to quantify the global photosynthesis on land with simultaneous consideration of seasonal and short term variations.

Deducing underlying laws from observation data

“From a plethora of sensors, a deluge of Earth system data has become available, but so far we've been lagging behind in analysis and interpretation,” explains Markus Reichstein, managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, directory board member of the Michael-Stifel-Center Jena (MSCJ) and first author of the publication. “This is where deep learning techniques become a promising tool, beyond the classical machine learning applications such as image recognition, natural language processing or AlphaGo” adds co-author Joachim Denzler from the Computer Vision Group of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and member of MSCJ. Examples for application are extreme events such as fire spreads or hurricanes, which are very complex processes influenced by local conditions but also by their temporal and spatial context. This also applies to atmospheric and ocean transport, soil movement, and vegetation dynamics, some of the classic topics of Earth system science.

Artificial intelligence to improve climate and Earth system models

However, deep learning approaches are difficult. All data-driven and statistical approaches do not guarantee physical consistency per se, are highly dependent on data quality, and may experience difficulties with extrapolations. Besides, the requirement for data processing and storage capacity is very high. The publication discusses all these requirements and obstacles and develops a strategy to efficiently combine machine learning with physical modeling. If both techniques are brought together, so-called hybrid models are created. They can for example be used for modeling the motion of ocean water to predict sea surface temperature. While the temperatures are modelled physically, the ocean water movement is represented by a machine learning approach. “The idea is to combine the best of two worlds, the consistency of physical models with the versatility of machine learning, to obtain greatly improved models,” Markus Reichstein further explains.

The scientists contend that detection and early warning of extreme events as well as seasonal and long-term prediction and projection of weather and climate will strongly benefit from the discussed deep-learning and hybrid modelling approaches.

Original publication
Deep learning and process understanding for data-driven Earth system science
Reichstein M., Camps-Valls G., Stevens B., Jung M., Denzler J. Cavalhais N., Prabhat (2019)
Nature 566, 195-204, doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-0912-1

Contakt at MPI for Biogeochemistry:
Prof. Dr. Markus Reichstein
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 6200

Webpage Department Biogeochemical Integration
Webpage Michael Stifel Center Jena
Link to the publication

Extreme Events - Building Climate Resilient Societies
October 9 - October 11, 2019

The overall objective of the conference is to elucidate the relations between climate extremes, societal resilience, and sustainable development goals. Development and transformation for achieving the SDGs can be severely threatened by catastrophic events triggered by climate extremes. Yet, at the same time development towards reaching the SDGs may enhance societal resilience against such extremes. We will identify the major obstacles for building climate resilience across regions and sectors, as well as priorities and means to address these obstacles. We aim to develop both strategic agendas for research and for best-practice design and implementation.

The conference is organized around 5 parallel workshop sessions:
(I) Challenges of extreme events for resilient infrastructures,
(II) Climate Extremes and Food Security,
(III) Climate Extremes and Security,
(IV) Data science for human wellbeing,
(V) Response to compound events.

The parallel sessions are guided by the following research questions:

1) Which impacts are expected to be caused by extreme climate events (incl. compound events, impacts cascades and feedbacks) across ecosystems, infrastructures and society?

2) What are key obstacles (e.g. financing, governance, data & system knowledge) towards societal resilience across sectors and SDGs?

3) What knowledge is needed to remove these obstacles and how can research, teaching and learning support the transformation towards SDGs while facing climate extremes? The sessions are considered to emerge bottom-up - hence you may think about contributing themes there. Each session will be formed by approximatively 30 participants.

Researchers from all disciplines and professionals from business and administration working in the field of extreme events and resilient societies are welcome to attend the conference.

The Volkswagen Foundation offers travel grants for early career researchers (PhD students and early Post Docs up to 5 years since PhD) or young professionals with a link to climate extremes and resilient societies from all fields (e.g. history, climate science, data science, economics, ecology, geography, health, mathematics, psychology, sociology, risk assessment, political sciences). Applicants can win one of 25 travel grants to take part in the Herrenhausen Conference "Extreme Events: Building Climate Resilient Societies" in Hanover, Germany, on October 9 -11 2019. Successful applicants will get the chance to present their research/project in a 2-minute lightning talk and during the poster sessions. The travel grants include travel expenses to Hanover, visa fees (if applicable), as well as accommodation in Hanover. The deadline for submitting applications is March 28, 2019.

Please do not hesitate to contact us in case of further questions:
Mrs. Maack ( regarding logistic and travel aspects
Prof. Dr. Reichstein ( and Dr. Frank ( if you have any further questions relating to the conference.

Conference website

Ten years HALO: Interview with research pilot Stefan Grillenbeck
February 22, 2019

HALO: Hight Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft (© DLR)
Sorry, but the information and the interview of our project partner DLR are only available in German language so far.

Zwischen 87 Grad Nord über dem Nordpolarmeer und 65 Grad Süd über der Antarktis war das deutsche Atmosphären-Forschungsflugzeug HALO über die vergangene Dekade im Einsatz. 23 Missionen über alle Ozeane und Kontinente hinweg zählt HALOs Logbuch inzwischen: mehr als 2000 Flugstunden in der Luft für die Forschung in bis zu 15 Kilometern Höhe.

HALO steht für „High Altitude and Long Range“ und wurde als Gemeinschaftsprojekt deutscher Umwelt- und Klimaforschungseinrichtungen, der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft und der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft mit Mitteln des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung initiiert. Getragen wird das Forschungsflugzeug von der Deutschen Forschungs-Gemeinschaft, der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, dem DLR, dem Forschungszentrum Jülich, dem Karlsruher Institut für Technologie und dem Leibniz-Institut für Troposphärenforschung. Die Einrichtung Flugexperimente des DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen ist für den Betrieb verantwortlich.

Einer, der von der ersten Stunde an in HALOs Cockpit mit dabei war ist DLR-Forschungspilot Stefan Grillenbeck. Am 24. Januar 2009 saß er am Steuer, als die aufwendig modifizierte G550 von Gulfstream in Savannah/USA in ihre neue Heimat überführt wurde. Im Interview erzählt Grillenbeck von seinen ersten Begegnungen mit HALO, seiner Begeisterung für den Testpilotenberuf und warum er über der Arktis unvergessliche Momente im Cockpit erlebte.

Lieber Herr Grillenbeck, als Forschungspilot sind Sie weltweit über alle Kontinente geflogen und das höher und weiter, als es die meisten Flugpassagiere je erleben werden. Fühlen Sie sich dem Himmel manchmal näher als der Erde?

In der Luft sind wir dem Himmel beim Fliegen natürlich immer etwas näher. Und es ist ein Privileg, unsere Erde von oben sehen zu dürfen. Leider ist die Freiheit dort oben nicht immer ganz so grenzenlos, wie in Reinhard Meys Lied beschrieben…

Wie sind Sie zur Fliegerei gekommen?

Am Gymnasium in Oberfranken habe ich bereits in jungen Jahren mit der Segelfliegerei begonnen. An der Hochschule München studierte ich dann Luftfahrzeugtechnik und über Kommilitonen kam ich in Kontakt mit dem DLR-Flugbetrieb. Ich trat der Flugsportgruppe in Oberpfaffenhofen bei und habe dort zügig meine Motorfluglizenz erworben. Ich absolvierte erste Nachtflüge, schleppte Segelflugzeuge in die Thermik und trainierte darüber hinaus Kunstflug.

Das vollständige Interview finden Sie auf der Webseite des DLR (siehe Link).

Das Max-Planck-Institut (MPI-BGC) ist wissenschaftlicher Projektpartner und an HALO-Missionsflügen beteiligt. Wissenschaftler und Techniker vom MPI-BGC haben unter anderem ein Cavity-Ringdown-Spektrometer für die Nutzung an Bord des Forschungsfliegers weiterentwickelt, um Treibhausgase direkt an den jeweiligen Flugorten zu messen.

Ansprechpartner am MPI für Biogeochemie
Dr. habil Christoph Gerbig
Tel. + 49 3641 576373

Dr. Julia Marshall
Tel.: + 49 3641 576383

Link to the complete interview (in German)

Together more successful: Computer scientists and ecologists investigate changes in ecosystems
March 19, 2019

The graph shows the CO2 uptake of vegetation by photosynthesis on Earth for a period of half an hour. In the right part of the graphic, the shadow symbolizes the night when light-dependent photosynthesis comes to a standstill. (Graphics by Sujan Koirola, data processing by Paul Bodesheim, Image license: CC BY 4.0)
Climate and land use changes have irreversible impacts on the biodiversity of terrestrial ecosystems. The consequences of these threats for our ecosystems are only partially understood. Today, researchers have a wealth of new data sources at their disposal to study the fundamental changes taking place on our planet. Over the past four years, scientists from different disciplines from seven European countries have worked together intensively on this topic in the European Union-funded project "BACI". Now they will meet from 27 to 28 March 2019 at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena for a final exchange of ideas. Their experiences and the results of their joint development work will be incorporated into future strategies for environmental monitoring at the European level.

Climate change and the associated intensification of extreme meteorological events on the one hand, and rapid land-use changes on the other, confront us with new global challenges. However, any strategy for nature conservation and landscape protection requires a solid basis of data. A new generation of European satellite observations - the so-called Sentinels - enables us to monitor the ecosystems of our globe with an unprecedented resolution in space and time. However, the huge amounts of incoming satellite data must be evaluated efficiently in order to detect changes in ecosystems early on. This is a challenging task that individual researchers cannot accomplish alone. Progress in this case can only be made if environmental scientists team up with computer scientists and remote sensing experts.

"The rapid development in computer science towards fully automated methods that detect anomalies in complex data is also a crucial step in environmental research", explains Dr. Miguel Mahecha, coordinator of the BACI project (Detecting changes in essential ecosystem and biodiversity properties - towards a Biosphere Atmosphere Change Index). But the chosen approach also opened up new perspectives for the computer scientists involved in the project. "We are pleased that our research makes a contribution to the environmental sciences", says Prof. Joachim Denzler. "Here we face new challenges that exceeded the capacity of existing methods. With the development of new algorithms, we have also taken an important step forward in our field", adds the Chair of Digital Image Processing at Friedrich Schiller University Jena and member of the Michael-Stifel Center Jena (MSCJ).

The joint project BACI, which was financed from the research and innovation program of the Euro-pean Commission Horizon 2020, can boast several success stories: The project succeeded in combining radar and optical data that contribute to, for instance, determining biodiversity patterns in European forest ecosystems. By combining satellite data and measurements of carbon dioxide exchange between ecosystems and the atmosphere using machine learning methods, it was, for the first time, possible to visualise the daily CO2 uptake of the entire Earth. Also, it has also been possible to predict the values of tree rings using artificial intelligence methods. Most of these breakthroughs were only possible due to unconventional ways of using artificial intelligence methods to answer ecological questions.

“The future of environmental research is data-driven and unthinkable without advances in computer science”, Mahecha sums up.

Contact at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Dr. Miguel Mahecha, Group Leader Empirical Interference of the Earth System
Phone: +49 (0)3641 576265

For more information please visit BACI’s webpage and twitter (see links below).

Project webpage BACI
Twitter BACI
Webpage Miguel Mahecha

Press Release (pdf)

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