Ongoing projects


The PhosForest project is an international collaboration project with partners in Europe and Brazil that aims to constrain phosphorus feedbacks on the functioning of the Amazon rainforest, and in particular on its response to climate change and atmospheric carbon dioxide. The low availability of soil phosphorus in the Amazon may limit the forests ability to act as a carbon sink due to the carbon dioxide fertilization effect, however key processes are relatively poorly constrained by observational data and consequently so are ecosystem model representations of phosphorus feedbacks. PhosForest proposes to advance our current understanding of phosphorus feedbacks in the Amazon and approaches the question by integrating observational, experimental and modelling approaches. The work encompasses enhancing observation-based knowledge of the phosphorus cycle in the Amazon and the integration of such in ecosystem models. 

PhosForest is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the International Graduate School of Science and Engineering (IGSEE).


Forests and extreme weather events: Solutions for risk resilient management in a changing climate

Climate change and in particular extreme weather events require the development of risk-resilient forest management strategies across Europe. In the proposed project, we investigate the interactions between extreme weather (heat waves, drought, storm), subsequent forest susceptibility to fire and pathogens, market developments, forest management and related uncertainties to determine on how current forest management strategies should be adapted to sustain risk-resilient multifunctional forest landscapes in the future. In close collaboration with stakeholders, we develop a model-based strategy for identifying and operationalizing risk resilient forest management regimes. We evaluate the risk of extreme events-induced forest damage and impacts on forest ecosystem services (ES) for the most important European tree species/stand types. We derive alternative climate change-robust management strategies by means of advanced coupled modelling approaches. The core of our methodological approach is a process-based forest ecosystem model coupled with a multi-objective, risk-sensitive optimization for robust forest functioning and ES provisioning. The goal is to derive the optimal forest management under changing climate and timber markets. For model evaluation, we mainly rely on data from national forest inventories. Our assessment will provide optimal silvicultural management regimes for integrated management of forests, i.e. fulfilling multiple ES provision goals. These results will serve as a basis for the development of guidelines for alternative, adapted management strategies at a local and regional scale. Based on modelling results, relevant policy areas will be identified. Through strong stakeholder involvement in all stages from co-designing of the methodological approach to discussion of findings, the project will enhance the science-policy-practice interface.

FOREXCLIM is funded by FP7-ERA-Net Sumforest and BLE.


Finding and understanding Ecological and socio-Economic system Dependencies in Biodiversity conservation and AgriCultural land use for the management of Key system drivers

Tipping points are undesirable and irreversible ‘regime shifts’, and occur in both ecological and the socio-economic systems. For the prevention of undesirable tipping points, a mechanistic understanding of the potential feedbacks between ecological and the socio-economic systems is necessary. This project aims to contribute to a better management and prevention of tipping points by using a modelling approach at the landscape scale.

We will set up coupled models of the ecological and socio-economic system that will be parameterized with data from case studies and subjected to a number of scenarios, to investigate the extent to which socio-economic tipping points drive ecological tipping points and vice versa. The preliminary phase of the project will be used to review the knowledge on coupled tipping points in the socio-economic and ecological systems, to set up the basic structure of the coupled models, and to select study sites from the identified candidate model regions in Europe, Africa and South America for the main phase. Scenario development in close cooperation with stakeholders and modelling will be carried out in the main phase of the project. The results of coupled socio-economic and ecological models will be made available with web interface that can be used worldwide for landscape analysis of tipping points.

FEEDBACK is funded by BMBF.


The CLIMAX project is an inter- and trans-disciplinary framework based on a European-South American research cooperation. The goal of CLIMAX is to better understand the combined role of remote and local drivers on South America climate variability. TUM's part at this project is to investigate impacts on the occurrence and intensity of extreme events (such as floods in Argentina and droughts in Brasilia) caused by this climate variability. Therefore we are using process based models to quantify precipitation changes in the south eastern South America.

CLIMAX is funded by the Belmont-Forum and the BMBF.

Amazon FACE

The Amazon-FACE Experiment investigates impacts of raising atmospheric CO2 concentration on tropical forest ecosystems. Find a report on the experiment in Nature here and the extensive science plan for the project here.

IRTG 1740

The German-Brasilian International Research Training Group IRTG 1740 funded by the DFG investigates “Dynamical Phenomena in Complex Networks: Fundamentals and Applications". Delphine Zemp and Catrin Ciemer focus on the evaluation of feedbacks between vegetation and climate in Amazonia.

Dendrobox (available at is an interactive interface to the International Tree-Ring Data Bank (ITRDB), the main public archive of digital tree-ring parameters. It allows for exploring chronology characteristics and the dendroclimatological potential of the records. Possible applications of Dendrobox include identifying records with a specific climate response, demonstrating the relations of tree-growth and climate in teaching, or simply playing with an impressive data set without the hassle of setting up analytical tools. 

Finished projects


The Helmholtz-Alliance "Remote Sensing and Earth System Dynamics" aims at the development and evaluation of novel bio/geo-physical information products derived from data acquired by a new generation of remote sensing satellites; and their integration in Earth system models for improving understanding and modelling ability of global environmental processes and ecosystem change.