Programme Atmosphere and Climate (ATMO)

PT2. Land surface processes in the climate system

In Programme Topic 2 we investigate the exchange and feedback processes between biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere.
Fog about a mountain lake in Bavaria, Germany; Photo: A. Meyn

Photo: A. Meyn



These highly dynamic compartments of the Earth System interact in a complex way by the exchange of vast quantities of matter and energy.



Our research focuses on

  • the effects of land use and climate change on regional matter fluxes
  • vegetation in the climate- and land use system
  • biogenic sources and sinks of greenhouse gases
  • regional climate- and water cycle variability
  • urban-rural interactions
  • atmospheric exchange processes in complex terrain

Our aim is

  • to understand and predict the ramifications of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations on the Earth's climate system and its interactions with the biosphere.

Therefore we

  • need robust measurements of concentration trends and exchange fluxes, together with observations of governing biogeo-chemical and biogeo-physical processes.
  • focus on high temporal and spatial resolution at regional scales.
  • are specialised in observational and experimental approaches. These are closely linked to process- and integrated modelling activities.
  • use a broad multi-disciplinary approach and work in cross-disciplinary collaborations.



Measuerement Robot at IMK-IFU (KIT) TERENO site Fendt, Bavaria, Germany


Photo: R. Kiese

ST.1 Effects of land use and climate change on regional matter fluxes

We derive process-level knowledge of biotic and abiotic drivers of ecosystem greenhouse gas emissions and transfer such knowledge to landscape-scale modelling systems, to assess impacts of climate change.

Contributing institute:

Landuse on the island of Majorca


Photo: A. Arneth

ST.2 Vegetation in the climate- and landuse system

We investigate the response of vegetation processes to land use changes, the effects of combined climate and land use change on ecosystem services and the role of land use change in complex feedback loops.

Contributing institute:



Water and energy flux measurements in Western Africa


Photo: H. Kunstmann

ST.3 Regional climate- and water cycle variability

We adress the challenges of high resolution hydro-climate analysis and prediction at regions that are characterized by high natural variability and/or sparse observations.

Contributing institute:






Schematic illustration of urban reaction vessel


Figure: S. Emeis

ST.4 Urban-rural interactions

We investigate the impact of large urban areas on surface-atmosphere exchange, and on the state and chemical composition of the "urbanized" atmosphere.

Contributing institute:








TERENO Eddy covariance station of IMK-IFU (KIT) at Graswang, Germany


Photo: S. Eckart

ST.5 Atmospheric exchange processes in complex terrain

We develop methods, both instrumentation systems and analysis tools, modelling and validation, in direct support of long-term ecosystem observation programs, such as TERENO-prealpine (Terrestrial Environmental Observatoria) and ICOS-ecosystems (Integrated Carbon Observation Systems - ecosystem component).

Contributing institute: