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Research at IMK-IFU

Soil-atmosphere flux chamber
Soil-atmosphere flux chamber
Ultralight Aircraft
Air-borne flux measurements

The terrestrial biosphere, hydrosphere and the atmosphere are highly dynamic compartments of the Earth system. All three compartments are tightly coupled and strongly interact in a complex way by the exchange of vast quantities of matter and energy.


Research in this topic aims at understanding the interaction and feedback processes between soil, vegetation and the atmosphere (water, energy, biogenic greenhouse gases and VOCs) at high temporal and spatial resolution at regional scales.
We specialize in observational and experimental approaches that are closely linked to process- and integrated modelling activities.

To understand and predict the ramifications of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations on the Earth´s climate system and interactions with the biosphere, robust measurements of concentration trends and exchange fluxes are needed, together with observations of governing bio-geo-chemical and bio-geo-physical processes.

In the global greenhouse, the terrestrial biosphere (i.e., largely soil-microbes and vegetation) is arguably the largest “broker” (acting as both source or sink) for the most important naturally occurring greenhouse gases: water vapor, CO2, methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O).

Moreover, the land-surface is the most active and dynamic “hub” for the transformation and cycling of energy and water through the climate-Earth system. Biosphere-atmosphere exchange processes are of particular interest, as they form the backbone of any predictive model that accounts for the source-sink behavior of the biosphere and its interaction with climate. This “broker”- and “hub”-role of the land-surface in the climate system is significantly affected by environmental stressors (e.g., drought or flooding, heat, ozone, pests, diseases), as well as by land-management practices (e.g., agriculture, forestry) and land use – land cover changes (LULCC).

To address even a limited range of essential research questions in this complex web of climatically relevant interactions at the land surface requires a broad multi-disciplinary approach, and cross-disciplinary collaboration. The scientists working together in these topics have originally been trained as atmospheric scientists, biologists, chemists, ecologists, geo-scientists, mathematicians, physicists, and in various engineering disciplines.