Climate Vegetation Dynamics

Climate shapes vegetation, and vegetation in turn changes climate, for example, by soils and plants reflecting sunlight differently or by plants cooling an otherwise dry environment through transpiration. The Climate Vegetation Dynamics Group aims at understanding these terrestrial biogeophysical feedback processes in the Earth's climate system. To this end, we address the following questions: How has the interaction between the atmosphere, vegetation, land surface, and ocean evolved in the past and how might it evolve in the future? Under what conditions might this interaction lead to abrupt transitions to new climate and ecosystem states? 


Snapshots of simulated global vegetation pattern, so-called biomes, derived from an MPI-ESM model simulation of the last 8000 years (Brovkin et al., 2019) using a biomization tool developed in this group (Dallmeyer et al., 2019). Most striking is the widespread vegetation in the Sahara at 6000 BCE. The "Green Sahara Period" ended between 4000 BCE and 2000 BCE, earlier in the north than in the south and earlier in the west than in the east (Dallmeyer et al., 2020). In some regions the expansion of the Sahara occurred rapidly, much faster than the subtle, rather linear change in the forcing of the climate (Claussen et al., 2017).

Group members and research topics

  Topics (visit the personal web pages to learn more)
Martin ClaussenGroup LeaderGlobal climate - vegetation interaction in past and present day climate
Juergen BaderGuest
Holocene climate dynamics
Manuel ChevalierGuest
(Univ. Bonn)
Paleovegetation reconstruction
Roberta D'AgostinoGuest
(Univ. Trento)
Holocene tropical dynamics
Anne DallmeyerScientistPaleo vegetation dynamics
Mateo Duque VillegasPhD candidateThe dynamics of past African Humid Periods
Pinhsin HuPostdocTrait-based modeling of plant functional diversity and its interaction with the climate
Leonore JungandreasGuest
(iDIV, Leipzig)
Interaction between deep convection and land surface in Holocene North Africa
Koushikh KarunakarMSc Student
Christian ReickSenior ScientistTheory of the terrestrial carbon cycle
Nora Farina SpechtPhD candidateSaharan mega lakes and wetlands and their interaction with vegetation and climate
Josephine WongPhD candidateLong term interaction between vegetation and soil hydrology
Sylvia HoustonAssistant