Humboldt Research Awardee Stephen Sitch at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Professor Stephen Sitch, a world-leading scientist from the University of Exeter, UK, scientist with outstanding achievements in terrestrial carbon cycle science has received the prestigious Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. During the years 2024 – 2025 he will stay for several months at Climate Dynamics department of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M), hosted by the research group led by Prof. Victor Brovkin.

Prof. Sitch’s pioneering work developing the Lund-Jena-Potsdam Dynamic Global Vegetation Model had a profound impact on the global vegetation modelling community. For the first time, he showed convincingly how to forecast the response of land vegetation cover and carbon cycle to changes in climate and atmospheric CO2 concentration, the key natural drivers of vegetation dynamics. His pioneering study land carbon modelers from equilibrium to dynamic vegetation models, which are able to simulate changes in the spatial distribution of plant functional types over time. In the last decade, Prof. Sitch became an international authority in regional and global carbon cycling by leading the TRENDY community. TRENDY is the global terrestrial model intercomparison project, co-ordinating the international community of more than 16 Dynamic Global Vegetation Models, that provide each year new output of the natural land carbon sink and emissions from LULCC to the Global Carbon Budget assessment.

The Humboldt Research Award provides a unique opportunity to advance the understanding of land-atmosphere interactions and better quantify the role of climate change and extremes on permafrost-thaw and CO2 and CH4 emissions at multiple time horizons. A detailed analysis of the most recent land carbon budget will be combined with the carbon cycle modelling conducted using the novel ICON Earth System model, the new flagship model of the German climate research community used for climate and carbon cycle projections. The plans include scoping an exciting new activity on the role of disturbance (fire-permafrost-carbon) on vegetation dynamics and biogeochemical cycling in the boreal forest. Prof. Sitch will also visit ICON collaboration partners, Prof. Sönke Zaehle at MPI for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Prof. Ana Bastos, University of Leipzig, and Prof. Julia Pongratz at LMU in Munich. They will in addition be able to contribute data and expertise on regional atmospheric inversions, high-latitude nutrient cycling and land-cover changes, and the impact of climate extremes on land-atmosphere interactions.

Further information


Prof. Stephen Sitch
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

Prof. Victor Brovkin
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology