Director's Research Group

In close cooperation with the working groups of the department "The Land in the Earth System" the Director’s Research Group focuses on the role of the land surface and the terrestrial biosphere in the Earth system. Key questions are: Does the interaction between terrestrial biosphere, atmosphere and ocean amplify or stabilize global climate change - or is this interaction important only for regional and local climate? Does the biosphere - geosphere interaction lead to abrupt climate and vegetation change? How does anthropogenic land use and land cover change alter the climate? 

(Graphic credit: Dominique Donoval, MPI-M)

Plant diversity of ecosystems in arid environment like Sahara and Sahel has changed over the past several thousand years. A mathematical model suggests that plant diversity may stabilise climate – ecosystem interaction thereby leading to more gradual, fluctuating decline of taxa (coloured lines), instead of abrupt vegetation and precipitation change.   (Claussen et al., Nature Geoscience, 6, 2013).

Current Research Projects

  1. Abrupt or not abrupt? How did the Sahara develop in the past and in the future? Did the Sahara spread slowly, or did the Sahara expanded abruptly? Could the Sahara become green again? Which processes affect the stability of the atmosphere - vegetation system in this region?
  2. How does land use affect the climate of Northern Africa? How do climate change, land use change and conflict affect each other?
    (CliSAP project with Jürgen Scheffran, Univ. Hamburg)
  3. Today, tropical forests cool the climate, boreal forests warm the climate. Does this general statement hold also in a warm ice-free climate of the early Eocene, some 55 million years ago?

Members and guests of the group

Name Position Subject Email
Martin Claussen Group Leader martin.claussen@we dont want
Tim Brücher Post-Doc climate - land use - conflict in Norther Africa tim.bruecher@we dont want
Ulrike Port Post-Doc, Diss. 2014 Vegetation Dynamics of the Paleocene–Eocene ulrike.port@we dont want
Vivienne Groner Doctoral student Biodiversity and vegetation dynamics in Northern Africa vivienne.groner@we dont want
Sabine Egerer Doctoral student dynamics of Saharan dust transport sabine.egerer@we dont want
Gesa Bedbur master student urban areas and global climate
Alumni PhDs and Post-Docs
Sebastian Bathiany Diss. 2012, Post-Doc 2014 Biogeochemical and biogeophysical effects of large scale changes in forest cover sebastian.bathiany@we dont want
Anne Dallmeyer Diss. 2011, Post-Doc 2014 Holocene climate variability and vegetation change in monsoonal Asia anne.dallmeyer@we dont want
Freja Vamborg Diss. 2011 Albedo - vegetation feedback (co-advisor: Victor Brovkin) freja.vamborg@we dont want
Juliane Otto Diss. 2010 Holocene climate-vegetation feedback at high northern latitudes (co-advisor: Thomas Raddatz)
Hinnerk Ries Diss. 2010 Heterogeneous boundary layers (co-advisor: Professor H. Schlünzen, Univ. Hamburg
Julia Pongratz Diss. 2009 Anthropogenic land cover change and climate of the last millennium (co-advisor: Christian Reick and Thomas Raddatz) julia.pongratz@we dont want
Jens Wohlfahrt Diss. 2010 Assessment of model simulation using palaeo-botnaic reconstruction (co-advisor: Christian Reick)