Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena conducts research into global material cycles and the associated chemical and physical processes. Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen are four elements that are crucial to life whose compounds are transported by plants, animals and microorganisms and distributed via the air and water. The scientists in Jena seek to gain a better understanding of the complex interaction between the organisms in the soil and the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as the influence of humans on these natural processes. How do ecosystems react to various climate conditions, land-use practice and species diversity? To this effect, scientists at the Institute compare historical data with current observations from field experiments and measurement campaigns in order to draw conclusions on the future adaptability of organisms. They also work closely with the Max Planck Institutes for Meteorology in Hamburg and Chemistry in Mainz.


Hans-Knöll-Str. 10
07745 Jena
Phone: +49 3641 57-60
Fax: +49 3641 57-70

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS for Global Biogeochemical Cycles

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

The rainforest in the amazon basin respond stronger to deforestation and climate change than the forest in the Konge basin


Interview with Sönke Zaehle from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry on the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)


Nitrogen may boost plant productivity, but the imbalance with phosphor reduces water use efficiency.


Well over half of Europe's forests are potentially at risk from windthrow, forest fire and insect attacks


The Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry is being awarded the Prize in the field of Earth System Dynamics


Droughts, heatwaves, and floods – climate change is likely to make extreme weather and climate events such as these more frequent and more intense. Markus Reichstein, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, and his team are working on predicting the impacts of such events. Reichstein uses large volumes of data in conjunction with artificial intelligence to carry out this research, which he hopes will make societies more resilient to extreme climate events.

Forests can remove large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. So far, there is consensus about this throughout the scientific community. However, there is some dispute about how forests can best protect the climate - whether they should be managed sustainably or left undisturbed. Right in the middle of this dispute is Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Director Emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena.

This summer, there were more forest fires in Brazil than virtually any on record. Susan Trumbore, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, is looking at the consequences that the immense loss of rainforest has on the local, as well as global climate. She also examines the likelihood of a forest recovering from a fire. If only it is given the chance.

Sometimes it takes a while for a person to find their vocation. Henrik Hartmann, for example, didn’t attend university until he was at an age when others have already earned a doctorate. Today, the forestry scientist heads a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. And the things he experienced prior to studying were no less exciting.

Research Software Engineer (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena October 13, 2021

Foreign Language Secretary (m/f/d)

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena October 12, 2021

The endangered skin we live on

2020 apl. Prof. Dr. Gerd Gleixner

Climate Research Earth Sciences Ecology Microbiology

The life and survival of humans on Earth depends on the functioning of the outermost layer of our planet, the "Critical Zone." In the Anthropocene, human actions have interfered with the exchange of matter between organisms and ecosystems, threatening the functioning of the Critical Zone. We examine how biodiversity loss reduces continental carbon storage, accelerating climate change. The world of soil microorganisms is the focus of our interest, as this is where the molecular drive of global matter cycles is hidden.


Klimaextreme: Von der Detektion bis zur Vorhersage

2019 Mahecha, Miguel;  Reichstein, Markus

Climate Research Earth Sciences Ecology Microbiology

Climate extremes, in particular heat waves, droughts, and their combination are inevitably increasing as a result of climate change. But little is known about how these events affect the terrestrial biosphere, which ecosystem functions are severely affected, and what feedbacks this may trigger in the climate system. At the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry we are developing new methods for the detection of extreme events in heterogeneous data streams. Our results show, among other things, how differently various ecosystems can react to extreme events.


Water, ice and snow: Driving forces of climate change in the Arctic

2018 Dr. Mathias Göckede

Climate Research Earth Sciences Ecology Microbiology

How stable carbon will remain in the Arctic permafrost in the future, instead of escaping into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas, is of utmost importance for the global climate. Water, ice and snow play an important role here. Our field research in Siberia uses new data and models to explain how the redistribution of water and increased snow cover, two known consequences of current climate change, can further destabilize the carbon pools in the Arctic. Our results help to assess the role of the Arctic in global climate change more reliably.    


The competition of plants and soil microorganisms for important nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus is a key determinant of the amount of carbon that can be stored in land ecosystems. Combining new laboratory experiments and improved numerical ecosystem models generates new insights into the intricate effects of this nutrient limitation for the future development of land carbon storage. This research contributes to a better understanding of the effects of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission of climate.


To spend or not to spend, that is the question.

2016 Hartmann, Henrik

Climate Research Ecology

Plants harvest energy from sunlight and store it in chemical compounds. These substances are the primary food source for other life forms and make plants the basis of all life on Earth. Plants also play an essential role in regional and global element and energy cycles and buffer changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from anthropogenic sources. Like small business companies, they have to manage and allocate resources to optimize fitness and survival. In the research group Plant Allocation, novel methods are developed and employed to derive plant resource management strategies.

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